“People are dying. I close my blinds… I want to change the world; instead, I sleep.”
Being self-centered is the easiest thing to be. Most of us are taught from a young age to think of and consider the thoughts, feelings, and circumstances of others, but like most etiquette training, thinking of others is counter-intuitive and something that doesn’t come naturally to us. At all. We must be trained to do this, and we always fail, some of us far more than others. It is totally natural to be self-centered, to be fixated on one’s own problems and only consider the problems of others sincerely when their issues affect us, either directly or indirectly. It is easier to commiserate with someone when you have common ground with them and it is easiest to side with and consider the perspectives of those who’s affiliations match our own. So many of us spend the majority of our time ruminating over our own problems, whether the grievances we face are legitimate or otherwise. It should be a staggering slap back to reality, a badge of shame, that we can be aware of wars being fought, genocide committed, people around the globe dying of dehydration and hunger, and yet their concerns fail to linger in our minds as profoundly as the thought of our own kids’ private school tuitions, our car payments, and getting that promotion in order to show up the neighbours that we’re generally ambivalent about, until it comes time to gloat over some assumed point of superiority.
Why is that? Why do people only matter for what they can do for us, what they can give us on a material and psychological level? If other people only matter because they give us food, shelter, money, attention, and admiration, then do we really value their humanity, or does the cusp of their existence rest on their ability to validate our own?