This I Believe

John ``Jack`` - Marietta, Georgia
Entered on December 13, 2006
Age Group: Under 18
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Selfish. The word conjures up images of Scrooge McDuck sending his fortune to the moon just so no one can steal it. Selfish. It’s what our parents tell us never to be. We must learn to hand out donations to everyone we pass. But selfishness is not evil or immoral. It is what has kept us alive since the dawn of our existence, and it continues to do so today. Selfishness motivates us to do our best and to achieve our goals.

Several weeks ago, I made five dollars renting out pens for a dollar each to students who had forgotten theirs. One girl, who had brought neither a pen nor money, said, “If I don’t get a pen, I’ll fail this essay.” She was right, but I didn’t care. She would have to pay for her own mistake, and with luck she would learn from it.

Selfishness encourages competition, which our economy is based on. It is not, however, a reason to break the laws. I have no respect for people who are lazy. These people either break the rules to get what they want faster, or they sit idle, waiting for a selfless benefactor to drop a bundle of 100-dollar bills into their laps.

Selflessness is even worse than laziness, because it gives the lazy members of society means to live on, thwarting natural selection. Doing favors, however, is not wrong. When you do things for people you care about and who you know deserve assistance, you help them because you value them, and because you know you will receive something in return. She will pay back the money you loaned her. He will help you when you are struggling. The balance of giving and taking is maintained thanks to selfishness.

Let’s rid ourselves of Scrooge McDuck, the man who doesn’t put his selfishness to use. Let’s teach our children to protect their property, their ideas, and their lives from the thoughtless sacrifice known as selflessness. And most of all, let’s remember what I was trying to tell the girl without a pen: your life is what you make it.