Radical Selflessness In the Age of Radical Selfishness

Hey friends. Wednesdays are my day to write about personal, non-wedding related stuff (or more like this is the day my marketing coach allows me to talk about topics that I want - ha!).  This week I have been thinking about the human tendency toward selfishness and how it permeates every single part of our lives. I've noticed in my own life that even some of the acts of service I do for others are done because I know I should do them not necessarily because I want to do them; not always, but sometimes. I think about our culture, our country, and the world at large and the effects of selfishness are almost tangible. Selfishness and hate breeds violence and unrest. In the age of "selfies" (of which I have done myself) the last thing we need is more individuality. As I was thinking on this, I was reminded of a blog I wrote on February 26, 2013 from my blog Musings de Maggie (the inspiration behind this blog's name and before I had the first clue what to do with a blog) addressing the same issue. For more on this, read the original blog below:


I awake this morning, groggy, from a restless night of tossing and turning, looking at the clock, followed by more tossing and turning. With a large canine in tow, I slowly drag myself out of bed, to begin my morning ritual of getting ready for another day.

Take dog out. Check. Contacts in. Check. Shower. Check. Oatmeal. Check.

Today is Sunday. Church day. Church, I have found, is the equivalent to my spiritual well-being as exercising is to my physical well-being. Yet, I always want to find a reason to get out of both. It is something my mind wants to talk me out of, if for no other reason, than there is always something more tempting within my grasp. My bed, a beautiful day outside, etc. Whatever the dull and shallow temptation may be, it always appears to me, to be so luxurious inside my mind. It is only after, church or exercising that is, that I am thanking myself, once again, that I ignored the resistance to take the easy path, for there is a sense of “fullness” one only feels after feeding the body, spiritually.

Today the pastor, Steve Constable, whom I adore to listen to (he is English), taught a message on selfishness. His message was that God could see how we treated not only other people, but how we treated Him. In light of this, we should spend less of our time and energy dedicated to our needs, desires, thoughts, wants, and wishes, and instead focus our efforts on the needs, desires, thoughts, wants and wishes of others. It is not merely enough, he said, to passively donate to charity, or to give our tithes to the church on Sunday. What we should be sacrificing is our time, our energy, our sweat, and our compassion. In a world where need is as great as it has ever been, if not greater, why are we so unwilling to lend a hand? Why do we hear the hypocritical whispers.....

Why do we judge those living with diseases like HIV? Do we not remember how God feels about the “least of these?”

There is an entire world in need. Individuals, families, and even entire communities have gaping holes where the wounds of sickness, divorce, famine, poverty, abandonment, illiteracy, shame, rejection, and grief threaten to take their lives every single day. So what do we do in response? We are afraid. Afraid to get involved. Afraid we won’t be needed. Afraid the sacrifice will be too much, or the emotional attachment will become too real.

Steve referenced an article in the New York Times written by David Samuels in October of 1999. The article is entitled, “In the Age of Radical Selfishness.” Steve’s message really resonated within me, and I wanted to know more. I came home and read the article. Over twelve years ago, Samuels noticed a shift in society, that has only continued and expanded over time. I found the article to be two things: depressing and inspiring. The article holds an even greater weight in our current social climate of texting, facebooking, tweeting, skypeing, and yes blogging. Our generation has the techology to be more connected than ever. We can talk to someone in China instantly. We can post a video to YouTube and a 1,000,000 people will have seen it by the end of the day. If we have all of the technology to connect, why are we more disconnected than ever? In a day and age when things are possible that 100 years ago seemed like something straight out of the “Jetson’s,” why are people spending more and more time alone, and less and less time invested in building relationships? David’s answer: our selves. We are standing in the way.

I have thought about Steve’s message several times today. I urge all of you, and myself, to be radical when it comes giving of ourselves for others. When I say these things, I am holding myself to the same standard. At one point in my life, my heart was so devoted to the plight of others. Then, when life got a little messy, and things got a little cloudy, I lost sight of this. So my challenge, is a shift in the way we think and behave. A shift to radical self-less-ness, instead of radical self-ish-ness.

Before I started this blog, I read that you should write about what you’re passionate about. If not, your readers will be able to see right through you. I thought, what can I write about? Sure, I love art, football, pets, traveling, etc. I wanted to write about something different.... But then it dawned on me today. Just write about what you feel strongly about. And what I am really passionate about is others, volunteering, and service. This…I could talk about all day.

I leave you with this, a quote from the article in the Times:

“The self is a necessary illusion that allows us to function in time, to create law, and morality, and art, and the rest of civilization. But it was never meant to save us from death, or imbue our lives with meaning and purpose. The self is the root of selfishness, and selfishness is what makes us unhappy. Too much concentration on ourselves makes us anxious, because the self cannot support the weight. That is the difference between the self and the soul.” -David Samuels. (End original blog).

This issue of "self" is not brand new to our day and time. Look at the Roman civilization. We aren't the first people to encounter selfishness; we simply just have the technology and means to broadcast and showcase it before everyone. As you may have heard me say before, I have been on a journey to become a more loving person, and as a by-product, a less selfish person. Boy is this no easy feat. However, all God needs from me (and any of us) is an honest + pure heart and a desire to change and He can do the rest. I am finding that when we resist the urge to be selfish and self-focused, real, lasting change happens; not only in our lives but in lives of those around us. I have fallen short and will continue to fall short, but oh grace. Sweet, sweet grace. 

Thanks for stopping by.

~Maggie ♥