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Self-LESS

I have the antidote to ALL things troubling – globally, nationally, socially, spiritually, relationally and personally.  It’s ridiculously simple, extraordinarily complex.  It’s the practice of being SELF-LESS.  Think about it, what would happen if everyone (yes, everyone) looked out for the needs of others, not just their own?   


Being self-less is not thinking LESS of yourself (I am a no-good, worthless person), it is thinking about yourself LESS.  It is being others-oriented. 


That is SO not our present reality.  We live in a society that is largely concerned with all things me and mine; which promotes self-infatuation, not just self-awareness.  It’s about my needs, my rights, my desires, my privilege, my politics, my race, my choices, my comforts, my relationships, my things. Selfishness rules the planet. 


Think about a world without these expressions of selfishness:

  • Greed; the antithesis of generosity.  

  • Pride: defined as “a high or inordinate opinion of one's own dignity, importance, merit, or superiority.” (Dictionary.net)  

  • Sexual assault and exploitation; including pornography, which plays on lust and feeds the desire for self-gratification.  

  • Relational conflicts; from so-called “one-way relationships” aka “I give…you take” to one’s need to be right, or the need to win. 


Even pursuits like vocation and aspirations can be a breeding ground for selfish behavior.


Less obvious is how we process pain and hardship.  When trouble comes, do I resort to self-pity?  Do I see myself as a victim?  Nowadays addiction is defined as a disease.  However, is it not also a selfish way of managing pain - often blind to the collateral damage inflicted on others? Suicide can be a selfish act as well, leaving behind a wake of grief.   


Change the world…think selfless  

Think about what the world would be like if government officials put public service over power, prestige and privilege? What if they were focused on building bridges instead of walls; doing the hard work of collaboration, instead of leveling cheap-shot criticisms?


What if Big-Pharma and other companies put people over profits?  What if ALL countries selflessly worked together?  Poverty would be eliminated, slavery abolished, world hunger – a distant memory.  Sickness and disease drastically reduced.  Rogue forces of stealing and high-level corruption would cease, as they cannot co-exist with selflessness.  The selfless learn to share power, not to dominate or exploit the powerless.  


Cooperation would replace merely co-existing.  Countries would work together to lower the carbon footprint of the planet and to address the ways we are polluting and depleting our natural resources.   


True SELF-lessness would destroy terrorism, and root out the hatred that feeds it.  Selflessness would remove violence, and fear.  It would dismantle the forces of racism, antisemitism as well as the other “isms” in our world.  


Widespread selflessness would produce a colossal shift from accruing to divesting…from consuming to investing…With an infusion of worldwide selflessness, human existence would be radically altered. 


Selflessness is not sameness. It can have healthy boundaries, respecting the differences among people, institutions, and cultures.  You say, “That is so naïve. It’s contrary to human nature. It’s anti-Darwinian.  It’s impossible. It would take a miracle!”


….Or a Messiah. The footprint for building a self-less life is summarized by Paul:  Imitate Christ

Php 2: 5-7 Instead of being motivated by selfish ambition or vanity, each of you should, in humility, be moved to treat one another as more important than yourself.   You should have the same attitude toward one another that Christ Jesus had, who though he existed in the form of God did not regard equality with God as something to be grasped, but emptied himself by taking on the form of a slave, by looking like other men, and by sharing in human nature. He humbled himself, by becoming obedient to the point of death —even death on a cross! 


Spoiler Alert: Being selfless requires a certain kind of death; a change of heart and mind.  Who wants to deny themselves, especially if you have been the victim of self-centered behavior?  Self-defense seems like the only rational response.  In a dog-eat-dog world, looking out for #1 is the key to survival.  But that only keeps the ME-first merry go round in operation.  


What if being selfless was connected to imitating Jesus.  If anyone wants to save his life he will lose it.  But whoever loses his life for my sake will keep it.   In the words of the songwriter Zach Williams “A little more like Jesus, a little less like me.” It’s not that the self doesn’t matter. It does.  It just needs to matter less, while being others-oriented needs to matter more. 

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