Selfish: adjective: (of a person, action, or motive) lacking consideration for others; concerned chiefly with one’s own personal profit or pleasure.

-ism: noun; informal, derogatory:  a distinctive practice, system, or philosophy, typically a political ideology or an artistic movement.

The more I listen, the more I hear “me comes first”. The more I hear it, the more I shake my head. Taking care of one’s neighbors, one’s community? How about one’s overall life, which should include caring about and caring for others who might intersect that life.

Consider this. A person goes to the local grocery to pick up dinner. At the checkout there’s a mother with her children, and one child is coughing. The cashier is sniffling. Two days later the person who just wanted to get dinner now has a case of the flu. And that person goes to work, and spreads the flu to the office. And that office, which should have finished a project by a hard deadline, now has to beg for more time because the office had to deal with flu rather than be working on their project.

Well, you say, what about the people who got flu shots? Probably those in the office got flu shots. Not necessarily. The office doesn’t offer free flu shots, only paid ones. And the assistants, the interns, the part-timers – they don’t have the office health plan, or they just can’t afford the shot, or they can’t arrange time to go get the shot when it’s being given. So they don’t. And the man who started this all by going to the grocery? He got the flu because he refused the shot (and we won’t go into that here).

Healthcare is only one area where the selfishism of the the title of this post comes into play, but it’s the biggest. Because some Americans don’t want to pay for the healthcare of others, we have more problems with people needing care and not being able to afford it. Selfish attitudes have gotten us selfishism, which is now making it’s way through our Congress as they try to undo the ACA and create the AHCA.  Selfish attitudes have made it almost impossible for more people to work together to create good things that will benefit most people. But “if I don’t get a benefit out of it, it’s not for me” is the prevailing thinking.

Selfishism lives in Congress, it lives in gated communities, in towns where police routinely stop people just for having the wrong color skin, in rural areas where an out of state plate on a car can get you funny looks at the gas station. Selfishism breathed life into the campaign that elected our current president, and he’s got selfishism down pat. America first. America only.

Americans need others, we need more than our small circles of trusted friends and confidants. We need to be able to reach across the way and build up all our communities, our towns, our schools. We need to know that our neighbors are healthy, that the cashier at the grocery store can get a flu shot, that the office we work in values our time and efforts on whatever project we take on. We need to stop selfishism.

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