The Yin & Yang of Self-interest & Selfishness

Most of my life I’ve really been married to the concept that when the powers that be start to impose their usually-projected conceptions, from the Puritan Ethic, Other faith traditions who claim the belief that they are the sole model for what is a _________________________, what it means for someone to create with the help of others what it means to be a man or a woman, as well as the scourge of Consumerism and Globalism.

These impositions are reflecting a cultural value of CONTROL. In other words, if there is a problem in the world that seems to challenge our rugged individualism, and smoking Marlboros. The Cultural Value of self-autonomy and balanced ego functions.

The first colonizers and settlers to the U.S.A. came here first seeking freedom of religion. Eventually, however, the European Americans created an environment that would enrich themselves, and revolved around power and protecting one’s own self-interest. In the case of Native Americans, the European immigrants coming to our country, self-interest was soon encoded as extinguishing the savages, extinguishing the social and monetary milieu of Indigenous Peoples who ruled in sovereignty this broad, giving land; and by the way, the land was there for the conquerors not for those who lived a simple style of life, receiving the blessings of The Great Spirit, from the land and the water.

Isn’t there a contradiction and an incongruence here, so close that we’ve missed it, and spent so much denying our denial—some might reason that whoever had possession of land, were given it as a gift by the Divine/Beloved, thus, they were the ones who had received this Manifest Destiny.
I think false images of one’s own motives, and the blindness that overtakes a person when they’ve made every provision to live by self-interest; comes from a commonly held philosophy (in this case among European settlers), and then the process moves to the impirical self. The impirical self is a bonded-self; this is a larger self, a community of individuals, or a collection of tribes, clans, families, etc. Literally translated, we can conjecture that the impirical self is anything—people, place, thing, etc.—that you can see or sense with your senses. While many Indigenous Peoples were contaminated with illness, as per the selfless love of the settlers, and decimated many Native Peoples.

This brings the notion of self-interest back into play. Who decides what is best for someone? If you decide that only certain, understanding people are the sages who can decide what is in the best interest of the group, then it always breaks down into some sort of “Oh, yes, they’re less than” & elitism. I doubt if this happened much at all, but it was always a potential to avoid. We all have our collective archtypes and person groove of human nature. Indigenous Peoples were very equality-oriented with women being given leadership and dominant positions within the governance of their structured lives in community. Classically, it was Native Americans that taught the settlers much about farming. This was an other- oriented gesture on the part of the hosts, and the settlers should have been very grateful to the Natives for educating them how to plant, grow and harvest the food output; this also meant a more stable economy, with the addition of agriculture, for the various land regions, and the entire nation. As the Native Americans had to escape from their lands, with European Americans trying to kill them, or re-locate them to reservations (internment camps).

Here’s the irony: Settlers received benefits that eventually enriched their interest in the economy; racism has always been about the dominant group enriching themselves without having to do much but drive the inhabitants of the land onto reservations; by extrapolation, Native Americans have some of the highest percentages of chronic illness, domestic abuse, substance abuse, and, for many, unemployment. Thus, many Native Americans have left the reservation and moved to an urban location where jobs are more plentiful. This also may lead to the felt sensations of fear, survival, disconnection from culture & community, and social isolation.

In the case of settlers who were Europeans, constitutional racism was embedded and in the end institutionalized. No matter what the settlers would claim, there was always the irrational denial, and delusion that their dealing with self-interest egoism that expected the most positive results of love for self, love for family, love for the earth, love for the sky, love for the waters—in short, these are lofty platitudes, and the open truth shows the benefits the Europeans obtained through the labyrinth of lies, destructive behavior, murder, killing of innocents, and broken promises made in a spirit of trust.

Copyright Christopher Bear-Beam

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