A Good Case For Being Really Selfish

Having been in the advertising business for a career I could never quite shake off David Spangler’s comment that the best example of practitioners of black magic in the 20th (and obviously now the 21st) century are advertising executives. Perhaps there can be some redeeming efforts. I’ll try.

I don’t know about you, but I used to be dragged into church as a youngster and found myself being subjected to a lot of platitudes without many convincingly good reasons to buy in.

Take the subject of “Forgiveness.” I was told that in the long run if I were wronged it was better to forgive than to resent. Or what about revenge. I could feel pretty worked up about getting back at that SOB for what he did. So just telling me what I ought to do didn’t seem to cut it. I was more likely to resonate with my lawyer’s sly comment that “Revenge is a dish that’s best served cold,” or “Get even not angry.”

It wasn’t until I became ill that someone brighter than me pointed out that anger, stress, worry, anxiety, etc (even the thought of getting even) are constantly releasing a cascade of chemicals inside us that are doing us in at a far faster rate than all of the diet, exercise, and other well intentioned programs can rectify. Being more left brained at the time, the necessary appeal to me was “ good internal chemical management” much like “good financial management.” In other words it just wasn’t smart to feel so lousy. And if I considered myself smart then I should learn how to control the flow of these negative chemicals.

As much as I might resent the initial idea, I had to admit that lack of forgiveness is like leaving the spigot open for negative chemicals to pour in. I had to think about closing the spigot. What would that take? I had to realize that first of all my health was more important than what anyone had done to me. Once I began to dwell on this concept it became easier to do. It was entirely about me, not those who had wronged me. It was about my health, certainly not theirs. It was about cutting this toxic mental umbilical cord.

Once I began thinking like this it became easier. I looked around for sympathetic points of view to reinforce this new found realization. The Eastern philosophy of Karma is one. Think about it this way: It’s a matter of arithmetic. Let’s say you get punched. The natural reaction is to strike back. According to Karma the first lick is simply something that maybe you had coming from some past transgression of some sort way back when. Doesn’t matter. If you let it go, that’s the end of it, one lick. If you strike back, then Karma says you have another lick coming to balance out this last strike. So instead of calling it a day with one lick, you have another one on the way, either now or down the road. To protect yourself ie. your health, you’re better off to let it go, to forgive it, to give yourself a big dose of selfishness.

Now just to set the record straight: this is not to say that if someone steals from you or causes you bodily harm that you might not take corrective measures. It simply means that your attitude of personal ill will has been eliminated. I hope we can at least see more of this kind of selfishness

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