As an educated individual, I have grew up with the notion that the act of altruism is to be honored and if given chances, I should be altruistic to others ??“ just as how I hope others to treat me in times of difficulty. If according to the central idea to Ayn Rand??™s arguments regarding the conflict between protecting one??™s own self-interests and dealing with the demands of a social system that encourages or sometimes forces altruistic behavior, I would be called ???selfish??? because the system has changed the value of altruism in both the self and the political system.
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Ayn Rand argues that the demand of a social system that encourages or sometimes forces altruistic behavior has created a conflict with the protection of one??™s own self-interests. Even my belief of altruism in the introduction is out of good intention; the society cannot disagree with me more because the society has built a whole different definition for ???selfishness??? to define my way of thinking: ???a synonym of evil; the image it conjures is a murderous brute who tramples over piles of corpses to achieve his own ends, who cares for no living being pursues and pursues nothing but the gratification of the mindless whims of any immediate moment??? (Why Selfishness, 80). Because I am only going to altruistic to others if given chances, I am placing myself and my rights above the whole. However, the ethics of altruism has degraded the value of ???self??? as evil and brute. An example would be helping someone write his or her essay while having one??™s own essay to write also. If I choose to refuse to help the person with his or her essay because I place my essay above his or her in the level of importance and by doing that protects my own self interest, I am an immoral person no difference from a person who robs a bank. The act is considered immoral by society standard because it does not benefit others. It is exactly the norm of moral value in this system that has ???proved??? me selfishness and thus, evil: I am prioritizing myself first then the others; my behavior, if not beneficiary to others, is known as selfish.
Much of our moral standard today has been shaped by the political system. The political system promotes and implants in our minds the necessity of helping others. Even though all men are not guaranteed automatic security in life since not everyone is born with the same advantage in life, our political system has shaped our belief that we should consider what is best for the society as a whole, not the actual human beings. We no longer have the right to our decisions: we must agree with the political system even when it does not benefit us. Because of this shaping in the system, we are forced to give up our self-interests for the greater purpose of serving humanity. Is this the way we want our lives to be Not necessarily, and for many of us, definitely not. Still, we have no choice for the society and the system that shapes it has chosen for us. What we once thought of as our rights to life and decisions that protect ourselves are merely immoral desires now. A great example Rand gives is Medicare. It is a project design to benefit the poor and the old, but does everyone in the country needs it Perhaps not. Is everyone willing to sacrifice more to support Medicare Probably not. But do I need to The answer to that is a simple ???yes??? because it is for the public. In the public, as long as it benefits some group, I have no position to refuse it. By not voicing against it, we mentally accept it. Until we start to think that we have the right to decide whether and when we want to help other individuals, we are blinded by this immoral belief of selfishness created by the society.
Ayn Rand??™s arguments on the conflicts between the protection of self-interests and the forced behavior of altruism for the benefit of the public as a whole is what a lot of us of have ignorant of. The original definition of ???selfishness??? is: ???concern with one??™s own interests??? (Why Selfishness, 80) and nothing about its negativity. We must realize and not forget that as individuals, it is our right to decide whether or not we want to perform altruistic behavior. The true moral value of altruism is that its beauty lies in the fact is it is out of complete volunteerism. The society or the political system it has shaped, have no rights in our decisions at all.
To sum up, due to the influence of society and the political system, we are all selfish to a certain extend. Ayn Rand??™s definition of altruism is unattainable in the circumstances given to us today. I tried my best to be selfless in every possible way, however, in a way, to be selfish is to protect oneself in the practical world we live in. I always wonder to myself, who in the world today, can be truly selfless in every way.