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Decent Men Are Selfish - A Practical Example

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  • Decent Men Are Selfish - A Practical Example


    Every decent human being is selfish. Let us illustrate this with a couple of examples.

    Kalle gets up at 5:00 AM in the morning. He wakes his wife, whom he loves. They eat breakfast together. Kalle enjoys this calm moment. The love he feels for his wife is wonderful. In order to make sure that she continues to love him back, he is always polite to her. He knows that he would destroy his own life, if he lied to her and with her leaving him as a consequence. At 6:00 AM Kalle takes the subway to work. He takes care to pay the fare. He knows that he would harm his own interests if he took a ride without paying. Even if he got away with it, he would harm the subway company´s ability to run the subway for him, if he cheated them out of the fare. At 7:00 AM Kalle starts to work. He is careful to do good work, and he exerts himself the entire day. He wants his employer to be satisfied with his work, so that he gets to keep his job and also has a chance for a promotion. During the workday Kalle is polite towards his workmates. He spends 40 hours a week at his workplace, so it is in his own interest that the emotional climate at his workplace is pleasant. It would not be nice to spend time in a workplace where everyone insulted each other, talked behind each other´s backs etc. When he takes the subway home at 4:00 PM Kalle is at peace with himself. He knows that he has done good work during the day, so he experiences a pleasant feeling of pride. He just passes by the bar on the way home, without a thought of going in. Kalle does not wish to waste his money on liquor. He has more important things to spend his money on. He saves 20% of his net wage every month, because he wants to build up a capital, so that he can buy a house of his own. Kalle wants a house in a nice green district. He thinks that it would be the ideal environment to raise the children which he plans to have with his wife.

    When he is almost home he notices a ruffian who is snatching a purse from an old lady. Kalle roars and starts running towards the thief. The thief runs away, when he sees that he has been noticed. The old lady thanks Kalle. Kalle explains to her that he helped her because it lies in the interest of all decent citizens to keep the criminal types at bay. If the criminal had got away with victimizing the old lady, then next time it might have been Kalle himself or his wife who was robbed. Kalle calls the police on his cellphone of course, so that they can try to catch the thief. Kalle comes home late, because of the incident with the purse snatching. He had to spend some time describing for the police what the ruffian looked like, and reporting the details of the crime. Kalle´s wife trusts him when he tells why he is late. She knows from experience that Kalle does not lie to her. Kalle enjoys the tasty dinner his wife cooks him. She is always careful to prepare nice meals for him, since he treats her well. After dinner Kalle sits down, full of contentment, and begins his evening´s language studies in front of his computer. Kalle takes a language course via the internet, in order to learn to be fluent in English. At 9:00 PM he is finished with his studies. Kalle and his wife go to bed, so that they will be able to get up in time next morning. Kalle ends the day with a tender love session with his wife and falls asleep without any problem. Life is wonderful.

    Pelle wakes up at 10:00 AM the same morning that Kalle did, and in the same neighborhood. He sighs, because his hangover is horrible. His wife throws a few eggs in the frying pan for him. They are burnt, since she does not care. What woman could feel genuine love for such a parasite as Pelle? Pelle grimaces as he forces himself to swallow the mess. “Are you going to buy that flatscreen TV today, as you promised to?” Pelle´s wife snarls at him. “Yeah, sure thing, Sugar, of course I am!” he lies hastily to her. He remembers now that last night he gambled away at the casino the money which should have gone to buy the flatscreen TV. He begins to worry about how he will make enough fast money to buy the TV, or alternatively find an excuse which his wife will accept. “Life sucks!” Pelle thinks to himself, while he reluctantly begins to use his gray cells to find a way out of this latest crisis. His wife nods her head when he promises to buy the TV and says sarcastically “Yeah, sure!” She does not believe Pelle for a second. She knows what kind of man he is. “Why did I marry him?” she thinks to herself. After breakfast Pelle takes a fistful of tablets. He wants so much to feel good. But the tablets do not help. At 12:00 noon Pelle goes out. He tells his wife that he will now buy the flatscreen TV. “You will be so glad when you see the new TV, Sugar!” he assures her. His wife just grunts. But she is at least glad to be rid of his company for a few hours. Her existence is more bearable when he is not around.

    Pelle goes down to the corner bar. He spends his last money on a few shots of liquor. While he is drinking he goes through all the tricks he knows to make a quick thousand bucks. That is what he needs in order to buy the flatscreen TV. The race track is open. But Pelle has no money to bet with. And he knows that there is nada chance that the loan sharks there would lend him more money to bet with. He is already deep in debt. Maybe he could sell some drugs to the junkies? But he has himself used up all the drugs which he bought a week ago. Maybe he could rob a store? But he has no firearm. He thinks to himself that maybe he could quickly devise a fake gun, and bluff? His thoughts run along. “Ohohoh! Why, oh, why did I gamble away my money yesterday?” he asks himself. But he knows the answer. It was because he is the kind of person who has accustomed himself to not thinking. At 4:00 P.M. his liquor and his last money are finished – and Pelle has still not come up with a way to make a quick thousand bucks. He stumbles homeward. “What will I say to my old woman?” he asks himself desperately. On the way home he happens to see an old lady. A thought occurs to him. Maybe she has money in that purse she is carrying? If Pelle was rational, he would realize that the chance that an old lady would have as much as a thousand dollars cash in her purse is almost nil. But the tablets which he took earlier in the day, combined with the liquor, has destroyed his powers of judgment. So Pelle acts on the spur of the moment and makes an attempt to grab the lady´s purse. But somebody yells at him. Pelle turns around and sees a man running at him at full speed. Pelle panics and runs away. He makes it home.

    As soon as he comes in the door, Pelle´s wife snarls at him “Where is the flatscreen TV? And why are you so out of breath?” Pelle does what he is used to doing and quickly comes up with a lie “Well, you see Sugar, you would not believe what happened. I bought the flatscreen TV. You should have seen it! It was really nice. But when I was almost home with it, just a few blocks from here, a gang of lousy punks turned up and threatened me with knives. They forced me to give them the TV. A few of them disappeared with the TV, and the rest began chasing me. I barely made it home uninjured. I really sorry, Sugar! Believe me.” “You asshole!” Pelle´s wife screams at him. “You must have gambled away our money again. And you take me for such a fool that you expect me to believe such a transparent lie? What do you think I am?” Pelle screams back “You will not talk to me like that!” His wife screams back. The thing turns into a fight. Suddenly Pelle loses control. The stress, combined with the tablets he took in the morning, and the liquor he drank in the bar, takes its due. Pelle goes into a wall, takes a hold of his wife´s throat and strangles her to death. Soon afterwards, someone rings the doorbell. “Hello! This is the police. We want to talk to you about a purse-snatching attempt.” a man calls through the door. Pelle panics. He runs back and forth in his apartment. The police open the door with the landlord´s key. They see Pelle´s wife lying dead on the floor. They arrest Pelle.

    Which of the two men above was selfish? Kalle or Pelle? Pelle “thought only of himself”. Although he did not think much. He just did what he felt like, whatever happened to appeal to him. And he did not respect the rights or feelings of others. Was he selfish?

    Think. A selfish man does that which lies in his interest. Can any honest person deny that Kalle´s life was in all ways a successful and happy life, and that Kalle therefore did that which was in his interest? And can any honest person deny that Pelle´s life was a complete failure, and that Pelle therefore did not do that which was in his interest? Can any honest person deny that it was Kalle who was selfish, and that it instead was Pelle who was unselfish, in the word´s exact meaning?


    Last edited by henriku; 01-26-2020, 06:24 AM.
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