It doesn’t look like that when you look around while living your daily life, does it?
People seem self-centered, disconnected, egoistic, uncaring about the world around them. They go about their daily lives without getting involved with other people, without much sign of positive interaction with each other or cooperation, leave aside any good deed…
Which seems to support the argument that people are “naturally selfish by nature”.
But that’s actually bluntly, totally and scientifically incorrect:
Both studies showed the same pattern—whether people were forced to use intuition (by acting under time constraints) or simply encouraged to do so (through priming), they gave significantly more money to the common good than did participants who relied on reflection to make their choices. This again suggests that our intuitive impulse is to cooperate with others.
Taken together, these studies—7 total experiments, using a whopping 2,068 participants—suggest that we are not intuitively selfish creatures.
A groundbreaking study with 2 experiments with a large number of people showed that people choose to act cooperatively, helping and in solidarity when prompted to react instinctively.
In contrast, when people are given time to think, education, social biases, social and cultural conditioning kick in, and they start to make selfish choices.
The study is one of the most methodical and accurate studies which have been conducted regarding human nature, and it has a considerably large sample set to boost its accuracy. Its one of the most precise psychological research so far.
And what it practically tells us is that we, the people, are instinctively cooperative and helping in nature – we have the traits which we classify as good. And it is the societal, cultural biases, our society, our education which make us act selfishly.
It’s actually obvious if you just think about it:
When you are conditioned from toddler age to be self-centered, be ‘successful’, be materialistic, reinforced throughout entire elementary and secondary education, high school, and then higher education, with never-ending media bombardment of the same philosophy of selfishness, greed, and consumerism, it would be very difficult not to be conditioned to pick up self-centered behavior patterns.
Because it’s all-encompassing – education, media, our daily life – each and every bit of our reality is shaped to enforce a behavior set of selfishness because it is much more profitable to have people as ever-producing, ever-consuming, insecure drones that fuel the engine of consumerism.
Even the most angelic persona would have difficulty living in such an environment if s/he did not adopt to a degree of selfish, egocentric behavior.
But deep down, deep inside, s/he still wouldn’t be the person the system forced to make him or her.
And that’s why we see problems everywhere
People are over-stressed.
They go about their daily lives as if it was a drag, themselves dragging their feet through the motions they have to do every day.
Work. Pay. Save. Spend. Buy. Succeed. Consume. Surpass…
People are unhappy.
They regularly need help from their Psychologists, they take pills. Either openly, or while keeping it secret.
Some break down and start trying to find a way to break out of the cage they live in, some try to persevere and endure.
They are unhappy, because the self-centered life they are made to live is not compatible with their personalities, because they are good, deep down inside.
A selfish person wouldn’t have problems living in a society formatted for selfishness. He or she would be right at home, doing whatever self-centered stuff s/he was supposed to do.
And indeed, there is a noticeable number of such people, right at home with our current system.
But the majority is unhappy. Simply because they are incompatible with the system of selfishness.
That’s what happens when you force a system formatted for selfishness on masses of people who are good deep down inside: A society with psychological issues, stress, dissatisfaction, sustaining itself only through supplements, pills and therapy sessions.
So, take heart, you are not alone as a good person
You are one of many who have to battle a selfish system forcing them to be selfish.
You are not alone.
There are many, many good people.
They feel the alienation you feel, they go through the stress you go through, they long to have good people around them just like you long for having good people around yourself.
You are not the minority, but the actual majority.
You are not someone alone in a system that goes against your deep nature. You are not out of place, improper.
The system is what is out of place, improper for the people in it, artificially and uncalled-for. It is not the people’s desire to have such a self-centered, dysfunctional and broken society, but its the desire of those who profit from having it so.
You and many good people like you are those who have it right, those who subconsciously feel what’s right and what’s wrong. Those who can see the good inside themselves and other people, albeit overshadowed by the demands of a system that forces them to suppress their good nature.
There are many good people going about their daily lives around you, going to work, picking up their kids, doing their weekly shopping. They may even be able to spare the time to greet each other when they have the chance. But otherwise, they are so busy with what life throws at them.
They have to work, they have to take care of their family, house, their life, and their future, they have to battle insecurities and uncertainties of life and go on staying afloat to be able to continue their lives.
Even in such a situation of forced self-centered lifestyle, exaggerated busydom, there are still many good people.
What can you do?
Surely, you cannot single-handedly change society and help people unleash their inner good by lifting the demands which the system puts on them.
You couldn’t be able to single-handedly alleviate the problems and issues of the people in your immediate social circle or neighborhood to give them a breather either.
You can’t just force people to behave more in line with their own nature and create an environment of good people doing good deeds with your own efforts too. So that you could have good people around you and live in a better society.
After all, you, yourself, also have to make your way through life by bearing the burdens which the system puts on your shoulders.
But you are not powerless. You are not alone, and you and many other good people together can change things.
You can bring about change, bit by bit, step by step, without upturning your life and jeopardizing your own safety, security, and your current life.
You can give a little bit from yourself when you can, to the extent you can. You can do a little good deed every other day, just a little bit at a time.
You can encourage other people to do the same, to do little good acts, to take little good steps every day, even every other day, taking courage from your example.
You can tell other people about the little stuff you do, encourage them to do the same, you can talk with each other on how to help each other, the people around you, the society at large, one little step at a time.
Surely it may not be easy to tell who is really a good person and who is just an actual egoist under the veil of selfishness that the system forces on people.
Some people may be good people like you, and some may be real egoists, perfectly at home with the system.
But over time, good people eventually and inevitably act according to their nature when given the chance. Over time it is possible to know people around you, and start to tell who is really a good person, and who lives by his or her own ego.
The easiest you can do is to be good to the extent you can afford, to people who are receptive to good acts and intentions. To the people who respond to good deeds in kind, to the people who don’t just take and never give back anything to anyone else. Good people may not be immediately around you, or even among your family. They may come up from unexpected places, they may be unexpected people. But they are out there…
Just be open to the extent you can afford, to the amount you can afford, and be on the lookout for good people who feel just like you. Try to do a little bit for each other every other day, without upsetting your own lives. And as such, be an example that encourages others to do the same with those around them. So that they also may realize that they are not alone, that there are good people in this world and they are many, and they may take heart and find the courage and power to push their life and the society towards a better tomorrow, one little step at a time.