Benevolent Selfishness – Religion and Politics

Kurt's Religion and Politics

Years ago, when I was trying to get back in the regular labor market (I’d been working not quite for free in special circumstances prior to that), I took a job that was pretty much a muscle memory and low attention to detail type of position.

The pay wasn’t great, but at the time, it served its purpose. The point of the job was simply to get my name back out there, and put me on a regular schedule to prove once again, that I could work in that sort of environment.

In that position, I worked with a team of mostly ladies. Some were considered fairly normal people; others were definitely on the quirkier side. There was one older woman with whom I worked relatively closely. We did essentially the same job, sitting at more or less exactly the same type of machine.

While we sat working, we would have discussions of various kinds. Some of them were work related, but many more were general conversations about life.

As I say, the individual in question was older—old enough to have a twenty or thirty something son.

One of our sessions went something like this (keep in mind, we’re sort of starting in the middle):

Me: “I always told my children they were in school to make their teachers happy. So long as they didn’t ask them to do anything illegal or immoral, they were to try to do it, or be ready to suffer the consequences. I never assumed they were going to get anything from school. It was always my attitude if they taught them something, great! If they didn’t teach them something, it was on me to make sure they knew it.

She: “I just let the school take care of business. I made sure my boy did the homework, but other than that, it was totally on the school system.

It was at about that point, that reality slapped me hard in the face.

The fact is, if her child ended up like the children of so many who I saw take basically the same approach, in my view, there was little question why.

I can’t say when it happened, but at some point, I came to a conclusion, and when I did, the thing I decided then and there has stuck with me from that time to this.

If you want to work with people who have sufficient knowledge and ability to be good to labor beside, you’d better count on taking the time to educate them well enough to fill that bill.

I started to refer to this idea by the name, “benevolent selfishness.”

The simple explanation is this. If you don’t want to do multiple people’s jobs, you should ensure those working around you, are well equipped to do their work.

Likewise, if you don’t want to pay outrageous amounts of tax, you need to make certain those entering the workforce, have some understanding what’ll be expected of them, so people will actually be willing to hire them. You also want to give them at least a basic knowledge base, so when they start some sort of position, the people with whom they’re working don’t have to bring them quite so far when they work to get them up to speed.

The same principle can be applied to so many things. I taught my children as best I could, to learn new things, for example, figuring whether or not I was there to help them, it would still be easier to do so, if they had a basic understanding how to pick up new information.

The point is, when you have to deal with people who didn’t have parents or teachers that gave them good help in preparing for the big wide world, you realize just how significant it is that people did have that help.

Another example, I learned a long time back, that when you’re a person with large amounts of experience working with others who don’t have that history, you shouldn’t worry about freely imparting what you know.

I could spend eight hours a day for months, teaching you what I know, and you’d still not have acquired nearly all I have in my experience base.” Is what I’d tell greener workers.

The thing is, even if I did teach them everything I knew, I would be continuing to learn yet more—and it would take me sufficiently long to teach them the ropes, that by the time they learned what I already had in my toolbox when I started teaching them, I’d have picked up large amounts they likely didn’t know in the meantime.

What I’m trying to say is, there are certain ways one can be selfish, that’re actually beneficial to one’s fellows. The result is, they figure out how to do things that are likewise beneficial to us.

This is what I mean when I use the term, “benevolent selfishness.”

Just imagine, a world where you don’t have to work as hard for a variety of reasons, because you’ve taken the time to help those around you become better armed to deal with life when it comes their way.

And remember, unless you really don’t know anything (something I’d be surprised to hear in most cases), the chances they’ll outdo you in the course of time are small. Really though, if they do, that’s not necessarily horrible anyway.

On the other hand, if you’re constantly fixing the mistakes or problems of others, rather than teaching them how to fix them, you’re doing neither yourself nor them any favors.

It’s true there are times the best thing to do, is to fix a problem or an error and move on. Making a habit of doing so though, is not wisdom.

So remember, when you fail to pass on what you know and can do to others, you’re asking for a harder life. If you do so, chances are you already know or will learn more that will keep you ahead of them in terms of experience.

Bringing things all together, remember that benevolent selfishness is really a pretty wonderful thing all around. Don’t know what that is? It’s doing things for others, so your life will eventually be that much easier for everybody. Try it, see how it works for you. It’s done wonders for me in the course of time.

Thanks for reading, and may your time be good.

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