Are We Selfish?

by Steve Buschbacher

For a long time now, there has been a growing trend among Americans to be OK with being selfish. It ebbs and flows but is has been there as long as I can remember. Lately, it has become more prevalent.

Webster’s defines “selfish” as

  (1) concerned excessively or exclusively with oneself

  (2) arising from concern with one’s own welfare or advantage in disregard of others

Are we selfish? Is our own well being more important than the common good?

Take a look at the current TV commercials that show two neighbors who have both just returned from shopping at holiday time. One brags about the great buys they got on a TV or on holiday decorations while the other shows off the new GMC vehicle they just bought. On one hand, these commercials tacitly accept the Black Friday hysteria that has swept the country lately. One the other hand, they encourage us to be one up on our neighbors and to make sure that they feel less significant than those of us who bought a new SUV.

There is another commercial that shows two neighbors who are both receiving furniture deliveries at the same time. One delivery consists of furniture that must be assembled with delivery people who are cartoonishly inept at doing so. The other features fully assembled pieces that are royally cascaded into the home. The first neighbor switches between frustration and envy while the second smiles and waves. 

Come on! Seriously? Are we to accept the fact that our neighbors are nothing more than people who must be bested at all costs? We are being fed instructions on how to be selfish and how to show little regard for the people who live next door. 

Now, maybe some of you do not get along with your neighbors. That is a possibility, of course. But parading around your newest possessions in front of them serves YOU only and it is a very short lived feeling. I like my neighbors and if they got a new GMC vehicle, I’d be delighted for them. I’d want them to show it off and take me for a ride in it. I’d delight in their happiness. 

We see the same thing on a larger scale in government. What was one of the biggest arguments against Obamacare? That some of us may have to pay a little more in taxes to see to it that others could have health insurance. Many people were schooled to say “No, I do NOT have to pay for YOUR insurance!” In other words … “I got mine so take a hike. I’m not going to share.” 

Would you pay a little more in taxes so that we could have free college in our country? I would despite the fact that, in our family, our kids are all just about through with college. And why not? It works to improve our country on a large scale. Remember when we used to take pride in our accomplishments? Remember when those accomplishments were fueled by educated Americans?  

Remember Martin Shkreli? The guy who raised the price of a drug used to treat AIDS patients by a factor of 56 from $13.50 per pill to $750 per pill. Did he care? Of course not. He saw a need for the drug and he was going to make a big profit fast. Now, yes, it is true that Karma has entered the life of Martin Shkreli. He was convicted of securities fraud and is currently serving time awaiting his final sentencing on January 16. 

John Schnatter, the owner of Papa John’s Pizza, lives in a 25,000 square foot mansion in Louisville, Kentucky. (one of 3 that he owns in the area) He is not exactly eking out a meager existence. Yet he had the nerve to say that he was going raise his prices across the board when Obamacare went in to effect instead of paying for the cost of his employees’ health insurance. Is it his company? Yes. Can he raise prices if he wants to? Yes. Do we have to buy his lousy pizza? Hey, I’m from Chicago and we know good pizza and, Papa John, yours isn’t even in the ballpark.  

I was raised to hold others in high regard. I was raised to help my neighbors. I was raised to help my friends. I do not turn my back on others. How were YOU raised? How do you live YOUR lives? 

In Chicago, there is a beautiful park on the lakefront named Olive Park. Milton Lee Olive III was 18 when he sacrificed his life for his fellow soldiers by using his body to smother a grenade. He gave up his life. For his actions, he was awarded the Medal of Honor. He was completely selfless. Remember that when you over pay for Papa John’s ketchup on a cracker masquerading as pizza. This guy won’t even pay for his employees’ health insurance.