Have you ever heard the expression “everyone always acts in their own self-interest”? This is something I’ve heard for a long time and it’s never really sat well with me. It took longer than it should have, but what frustrates me is that it simply isn’t true. It’s also an oversimplification of human personality that harms how we all collaborate. It is simple to demonstrate that it is not true simply looking at parents. How many times do parents, particularly moms, give up their lives, their needs, dreams, and desires in order for their children to prosper? The reason I have more than one child is perhaps the best example of this.
When my wife was pregnant with our first kid, she experienced the worst hyperemesis I’d ever seen. During the pregnancy, she spent roughly 8 months vomiting up and being unhappy. We discovered that no medications or supplements could make her feel better. We couldn’t even keep food in the house since the fragrance made her sick. I couldn’t eat at home since the smell of the food would make her sick. According to all accounts, she endured pain and anguish.
She advised me that it was time to start working on the next child about 5-6 months after my first child was born. I smiled and said, “Wow, mommy amnesia must be real, because the last year has been hell for you.” She stared me down and stated, “I don’t have mommy amnesia; I remember every miserable second of that year.” However, Zain deserves a brother, and I will not deny him that portion of his life for any reason. Also, as a historical aside, the second pregnancy was the worst.
I believe we can all point to examples in our own lives that demonstrate how, on sometimes, we as humans do things only to benefit others. This also implies that we, as a species, care and would prioritize others over our own interests. This should encourage us all to believe that we are better than we appear. If we worked on and discussed the things that happen outside of people solely behaving in their own self-interest, we might transform the way we look at those around us. Including positivism and hope is usually useful.
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Dr. Matt Chalmers
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