Monday, April 27, 2009

Unselfish v. Selfless

(This is sort of following up some of my earlier thoughts today)

The difference between unselfish and selfless is more than purely semantics.

I've been trying to get over my habit of saying "ish" at the end of every adjective. "This pizza is really yummy-ish" It sounds much stupider than it reads, and it reads pretty stupid. So I've been trying to get over it.

But adding an ish means that its only sort of like the adjective. There's a big difference between the doctor telling you "You'll be able to live a normal life." and "You'll be able to live a normal-ish life."

Semantics, unselfish and selfless. The thing is that being unselfish doesn't mean that you're not thinking about yourself, it just means that you're not thinking about yourself completely, you're not completely self-centered. You're un-selfed... ish. Compare that with selflessness, where there isn't any of you in it. It's not about you, it goes beyond being about something in adition to yourself, it is being about something that is totally seperate from yourself. It is without self. It is selfless, not selfless...ish.

And because I was wondering about the walk for life, and wondering how it really does any good. And why, if money can solve problems I even have any. Why I can sit here complacently writing this and other thoughts, thoughts about me, when I should be doing everything in my power to save the human race from an eternity in a literal hell.

And the answer seems very plain. I'm selfish. I might even be unselfish. But I'm not selfless. Because ultimately I care more about myself than I do about even the cause which I regard to be most noble. I look out for number one, and so I eat while others who I should love are starving. I care about me so I materialistically care about how I look when there are others who are dying from exposure. I love myself so much that I give myself leisure time when others spend every moment working simply to survive, have no time for life, for love, and even then find time for others.

Part of me is wondering how I can even be writing this, when I should be doing something better. I think the answer is that I'm writing it because I'm selfish. And the fact that I'm saying I'ms selfish is just to draw attention to myself because I want attention because I'm selfish. And the fact that I point that out is also because I'm selfish. Everything I do is selfish. And if it isn't selfish, its unselfish, but it isn't selfless. I need to be selfless, I need to stop writing this now.


  1. "Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others." That seems to imply that we aren't called to be completely selfless, we can help others and ourselves.

    But then...when I could be using my energies so much more sacrificially, why do I things that benefit or please myself? Ugh, I should stop writing this now as well.

  2. ...Selflessness confuses me....what if we want to be selfless? is that selfish? is selfishness doing what will make you satisfied? fulfilling your own desires? But if you desire to help others, isn't that selfish? *confused*

    Selflessness means doing what will not help you, except perhaps by fulfilling your desire to help others. Selflessness isn't the act of doing something for someone else, but the desire to do so. (Greatest desire, which necessitates action. If it truly is your greatest WILL do it, we are all slaves to what we want.)

  3. But selfishness can't be what we want, or selflessness could be selfish. That, or selflessness means doing what we don't want.

    Uhg, so confusing, so convicting, so convoluted.

  4. I like what rebecca said...
    and ultimately, even when being "selfless" it is the SELF that is BEING selfless...
    "self" is never removed (it can't be...shouldn't be)

    But that doesn't help solve the problem, now does it?