Selfishness – Our Poor Attitude

I am not going to dissect physiological selfishness within this post, for it is clearly beyond the scope of one post. What I would like to do is simply deal with self-ishness as it relates to creation, creating, and the creator. To understand our God, the Creator, and look at His creation, it is important to study the process and relationships of the creative process. There is indeed a link between the creator and his creation; I believe it has to do with the part of “self” that ends within the created object. High quality, timeless, creation (not just your basic problem-solving) but something of a special “museum-rated” quality, goes much deeper into the creator. Haven’t you heard the saying: “Put a little soul in it”? To most, this is just so many words about making an effort, but I propose that this timeless creation has exactly that in it…a little of your soul, a little of your life’s essence. There is, however, a danger of crossing the line…the line between putting yourself into the creation for the glory of the creation (“Let us make man in Our image”, Genesis 1:26), and putting yourself into you for the glory of yourself (pure self-ishness).

Why is it that man will often put-down and denounce innovation and creativity? Is it because of jealousy? Is it the change that is associated with innovation that scares people? I think people are mad at themselves, upset that they didn’t have the answers; they often feel that they don’t have the creativity within themselves to do the same. It seems to inflate or build up the criticizer (an ego thing) if he or she can denounce the creator or his creation. Saying, “that sure is a dumb idea” extends the position that you are smart enough to recognize that fact. The “put-down” is a way people seek to regain control over others.

All the great architects, artists, and filmmakers stood alone and were ridiculed by people of lesser vision. The importance of the created object by the creator was far too powerful to let the unknowing deter their paths by a watered-down and compromised pseudo-intellectual thought. A gang can come together for a given purpose, get the job done and move on to some other focus; but the real creator is a capable solitary innovative mind more focused on the creation than self. I know some of you reading this will say, “Wrong! The drive for that lone creator, that solitary mind is all about “ego” and not about any focus on the object of creation.” It is all about “self” you’ll say. Our society has put down “ego” as a bad thing because of a gross misunderstanding of what ego means. I’ve heard architects who should know something about creativity put down the Great Master…Frank Lloyd Wright for being egotistical, when it was ego that was the “muscle” that allowed him to conquer ridicule. Let’s first look at some definitions to help us be accurate; first “ego” and then “arrogance”; read carefully and compare the two.

ego – “the self, the individual as aware of himself, experiences the external world through the senses and consciously controls the impulses” …intuitive

arrogance – “full of or due to unwarranted pride and self-importance, overbearing, haughty”

It is my contention that these innovative and creative people must have ego; it is the “engine” that drives a person forward when all those around him are staying stop or “you can’t do that”. The ego is also the shield to protect those people as they found themselves out on the edge, charting new ground in a sea of hostility. Look at the “ego” definition again, it is an individual aware of self but within a larger context; it is not inward and selfish. Being aware of self is simply knowing one’s limitations and abilities for you to be able to use “the best tools for the job”; a craftsman knows which tool to pick up to do a particular job. Now, notice the definition of “arrogance”, the key words are:

full”…there is no room for anything else, nothing or nobody can get in; this often blocks new serendipity from being realized.

unwarranted”…there is no justification for the person’s attitude or position; most often what is visible in the person has not been earned.

self-importance”…manufactured self-worth and self-value; the drive to do something is purely inward and does not acknowledge a larger context.

Overbearing”…this is a protection mechanism for these people, a haughty overbearing attitude most often hides the inner insecurity and shallowness of the person; it keeps others from getting too close to see the truth.

Please don’t criticize a creative person, such as an artist, musician, or architect, as being egotistical when you mean arrogance. Ego allows the forceful decision making necessary for creative invention…do you think every new thought came about by some wishy-washy wet dishrag pea-brain afraid of making a decision, trying to decide whether he was right or not? No! New thought, ideas and solutions come about by one solid strong person having the guts to stand by his conviction after careful study and reflection; an individual aware of self but always within the larger context beyond self. Timeless solutions are never reckless.

God, the Master Architect Creator, created you and me, and created us to be creative; we are created in the image of God. We can and should use our God-given talents as a celebration to the wonderful gifts lovingly bestowed on us by God; to not do this and not give thanks for the blessing is to reject God. It was God who has granted you a confidence; a confidence that you can “go and do likewise”…that is, go and be a creative being…but in what larger context you say? The context we are to work within is not some socialistic utopia but simply it is to work to and for the glory of God. Although a person with ego can “miss the mark” (the definition of sin), it is this confidence in God and this larger purpose, the “ego engine” will empower us to run the uphill race.

Drunkeness is Arrogance

In 1968 I was attending Harding High School. I had a very fast car, a 1964 Ford Galaxy 500XL with a 427 engine, headers, Hurst 4-speed, and a gigantic honking 4-barrel carburetor sucking a gallon of 25 cent gasoline every seven miles. It was awesome! Everyone wanted to ride in my car. I was far from the most popular guy in school. I was a jock; I had earned the highly prized O-Club letterman’s jacket, I was a C-student, and I had my car…”the car”! Those days were filled with me trying to get a date, trying to move up in the social cliques, and drinking heavily. Drinking heavily…listen my friends…drinking heavily is now and was back then a major disaster! Still today I hear guys say, hey, let’s go out and get drunk. Friends, I’ve been there and done that…let me tell you the truth, there is nothing worse! You lose control, make a fool of yourself, break physical things and you break personal relationships. But, most of all, you hurt the ones that love you. To get drunk is an extremely selfish act. One night can ruin your whole life; it just isn’t worth it. How many parents have to bury a child from such reckless behavior? How many drunk drivers do we have to have killing our loved ones before we all wake up? Changing the societal laws is not going to work; the only thing that will work is the changing of one’s heart. This is why I wrote the book, “A Different Kind of Tree”; you must get your roots better nourishment if your tree is going to bear good fruit.

It took me awhile to learn this truth about alcohol; oh, how the lessons are so extremely costly! I hurt people, not physically, but the ones who loved me. That I survived is a miracle. As I look back, it is all just so stupid!

Selfishness is blinding. Hurting people when you are so into yourself is simply a non-issue; you don’t see it and you don’t think about it. You are blind to the impact you have on those that care for you. The hurt you thrust upon others doesn’t exist, at least to you that is. Your actions are ugly and arrogant! Selfishness leads you to believe that you are the only person that matters, the only person with “that” particular problem (fill in the blank with the name of any problem), and furthermore, you think nobody in the world knows what you are going through. You think you are “one of a kind”. Your actions are a kind of a reverse arrogance; everyone in the world is doing great but you. You lash out against those who love you because you are selfish! Your roots are in rocky ground, as mine were back in those early days. I have changed for the better by changing my nourishment! No, I am not talking about the food you take through your mouth, but the food of the heart, the food of the soul. This is what you need to change for the better.

A Child of the Sixties Compares with the Culture Today

In the sixties, we had parents too full of themselves to parent properly – just like today. In the sixties, we had bullies and hazing – just like today. In the sixties, we had classmates that would tease and do pranks on each other – just like today.

So, what is the difference between then and now? The situation is clearly shown in Marybeth Hicks’ article entitled, “A Sad True Story Shows Morality Lacking,” published March 22, 2012. It is a story about two young university freshmen roommates, one spied on his roommate and published a webcam video over the Internet of his roommate’s gay sexual encounter, which drove him to end his life by jumping off a bridge. The insensitive spy got 10 years in prison; a great way to begin a life wouldn’t you say? Every college campus these days should absolutely be considered rocky ground.

In the sixties, we had child suicides, drugs and drug overdoses – just like today. So, what is the difference between then and now? The answer is found in the sense that life has no meaning. Often we see children lacking a sense of life and death and what death actually is; many times believing there is no value in whether they exist or not, so who cares? Many children believe their parents don’t care; and with the breakdown of the nuclear family unit, many children feel on their own. The ease of getting in and out of marriage, the lack of penalty of failure, and the freedom many welcome for “alternative coupling” is destroying much more than is currently being realized. Future generations will be paying the price for a long time. Children coming out of this abyss lack sensitivity and self-esteem, which reveals itself in the extreme level of coarseness, brutality and selfishness we see today! It is indeed very rocky ground.

Now common language for adults and young children as young as a single digit in age (and even used on television commercials) is the use of the word “freaking” or “fricking.” You have to be totally unobservant not to know that the word “freaking” has become a socially acceptable replacement for the F-bomb! We see the wide-spread use of the WTF acronym for “what the f___.” Who are they kidding? Because it isn’t the actual word, it is okay? I don’t care; the word is a most ugly symbol. If you know how the symbolic word is intended, then it too has all the ugly coarseness of the original “hidden word.” Our speech makes a big difference in who we are.

But Haven, those of you old enough to know would say, in the sixties there was a lack of morality while coarseness and selfishness became the norm. Yes, true, but back then we knew there was a right and a wrong; we knew a decision had to be made to be bad or to be good, and the decision had nothing to do with “feelings.” There clearly was a line in the sand; we knew when it was crossed. We knew it was wrong to cuss. Oh, people used profanity, but it was not every day normal speech as we see today. It was consciously used by decision to be explosive and only used for impact. We talked politely to girls; never would we have talked so-called “boy talk” to a girl. Today, the “girl talk” is just as ugly and filthy as any gutter-mouthed boy.

If you wish to be a better person, you must gain our nourishment in more fertile ground…ground found in the Bible. There are indeed absolutes…absolute right and wrong. Decision-making is not relative to your own definitions; there are ramifications to our behavior. Our culture is becoming more rocky, and we know that a tree grows all twisted, dry and ugly in rocking ground.