Years ago when I was a child (and as I have probably said many times before, I may have said this before) a teacher took me aside at Hudson Park Elementary (I think I even remember exactly where this happened) and told me that the world did not revolve around me. I think at the time I had been stealing or something. Not sure exactly all the effects this had on me, but I think I stopped stealing and created the foundation for a Nice Guy persona. Here is a book to explain that:
Now I can not be sure of the teacher’s motivations here. Everyone is raised within the confines of their family belief systems. Maybe the teacher was trying to help, maybe they were trying to hurt me, maybe they were trying to shake me up a little. But ultimately the labels “selfishness” and “self-centeredness” are applied to an individual as a way of controlling behavior that is believed to be, or is seen to be, undesirable in some way or wrong.
I am only going to say this once… The world, even the entire universe, does revolve around you. Or more accurately, your world, your universe revolves around you. Everyone that can look up and see the moon will see the moon. But everyone will have a different way of interpreting and perceiving the same object, and all of them will not be seeing the object as it really is, outside of all those associations, beliefs, interpretations and judgments. An enlightened person, meaning one who can see things as they are, will see the moon as it is. I have no reference to draw from here. They probably wouldn’t even assign a name or label to it.
The point is, no two people experience reality in exactly the same way. We all live inside the orbits of our own belief systems, habitual patterns of thought and perceptions. This is why one person can pick up a penny and joyously thank the Universe for its provision, while another may walk on past or kick it into the gutter. Guess which person likely has more money in their life?
Also being selfish or self-centered doesn’t necessarily mean you also believe the earth and the universe rotate about you. In fact I doubt if anyone labeled normal would believe that. And even if someone did, what makes that wrong? You can throw all the science you want at me, that still doesn’t make one person’s unique viewpoint any more or less valid than any other.
It also doesn’t necessarily follow that being selfish or self-centered is wrong. A baby is selfish, does that mean you punish him or her every time they demand you feed them or clean their diaper? Maybe some parents do, and god help them when their children grow up. Because when those parents are in diapers, baby-like and in need of care, what do you think the children will do? They can draw from what they have learned. They will only repeat the lessons their parents taught them. Are you in a nursing home, with children who never visit and don’t seem to care about you? Ask yourself, how did you treat them when they were helpless and dependant on you? Be brutally honest, you are far too mature not to face the truth.
We have to be selfish, because we have to take care of ourselves. If we fall into the Nice Guy (or Good Girl) trap, we will put the needs of others ahead of our own, looking for all the world incredibly selfless, but our motivations will not be pure. We will not really want to be doing the things we want to do. Our heart will not be in it, and if our heart is not in what we do, doesn’t that make us heartless? Aren’t we acting heartlessly? Think about that for a moment.
If we are self-centered I guess that means we act like, and truly believe, that only we matter. We may be arrogant and conceited. But the issue is not whether or not we are self-centered. The issue is why we are acting this way. Could it be that we have an over-inflated idea of ourselves because ultimately, we feel we are full of hot air? That we don’t matter, that nobody cares about us? Isn’t a low self-esteem why we don the role of self-centeredness?
The solution is not to criticize and judge others for behavior we do not agree with. Fuck that. And fuck trying to control the behavior of others. Anyone on that quest is acting like Don Quixote, chasing windmills. The solution is to be motivated by love, for ourselves and for others. Period.
So to that long-ago teacher, you screwed up. You were not motivated by love in what you did. You were motivated by the desire to dominate a child and control their behavior. This was very irresponsible of you. The end result is that child, now a grown man, has an incredible amount of crap to clean out that he inherited from his family, their religion, and society. He became a Nice Guy, meaning he wasn’t really nice at all. He has since begun to address these and other issues. But at the root of every issue he has are the things the adults in his life did and said to him when he was a child.
You were one of those adults. If you knew how to motivate the children in your care with love, that is how you should have proceeded. But chances are you didn’t know better. So while you are partly responsible, I do not blame you. I hold no grudge towards you. I understand, all too clearly, how we are all prisoners of our beliefs, adopted, inherited and picked up by ourselves.
Instead I will point out to you, and every other adult in any position of authority, the incredible responsibility we have. Adolf Hitler is thought to be one of humanity’s greatest monsters. But this is an incorrect point of view. The real monsters are the adults who contributed to raising Hitler to be who he became. Without those adult influences, there would be no Adolf Hitler, except maybe as a painter. Imagine if he had been raised by those motivated purely by love. People who loved him and supported him. People who encouraged his artistic ambitions. We would have seen more of this:
And less of this:
And none of your bullshit about, “Oh poor Hitler, he wasn’t loved enough!” in some sarcastic tone of voice. You are damn right he wasn’t loved enough, and this is just one blatant historical example of what happens to a child who is raised by adults that would rather control their child’s behavior than actually be motivated by love in their parenting! Maybe Hitler’s parents didn’t know any better, so couldn’t do any better. I don’t know. I am not a historian. I just know that all monsters are created, or rather raised, not born. I don’t care what proof you have to the contrary. Any exception proves the rule.
It’s time to stop fucking around and face the truth. Raise your children with love, motivated by love, or don’t bother having them at all. Give them away to adoption, send them to live with relatives, do whatever you have to do. But don’t try raising them unless you can do so motivated by love. If you are yelling at them, telling them they are bad or wrong, that they shouldn’t do this or that, you are trying to control their behavior and are not motivated by love. Your children are not your slaves, nor your dogs to be whipped into obedience and submission. Your religious beliefs are no excuse. You are responsible for the adult this child will become. Ask yourself honestly what kind of adult are you raising?
I don’t know about you but I would rather see more beautiful paintings and less episodes of genocide, holocausts and war. The kind of future we will have is not in the hands of our children, but those who are raising them. Our children will only repeat the behaviors they learned from us, or that were beaten into them. Not everyone will be imprisoned this way, there are a few who escape. But none of us escape undamaged. We all bear the scars of being raised by those who were not motivated by love.