“In the ethical instruction which is given in school, stress is placed upon giving alms and performing public deeds of kindness; it is more difficult, apparently, to stress the subtle but more important acts of generosity, such as giving another a chance to be heard or refraining from display that might make another child feel inferior.”
—Dr. Arthur T. Jersild, from Child Psychology(1933)
The idea is that we are born selfish—just spend time with any toddler—and then we learn to share. We wouldn’t do it if we didn’t have to. It’s not our nature. But sharing is required for survival and we all figure that out eventually.
We submit to generosity.
What was the best moment of your life? Really, the peak moment when you felt like everything was exactly as it should be?
A group of people was living somewhat peacefully and somewhat happily on its land. Then a bunch of new people showed up and wanted to share the land. The new people had germs on their skin and in their saliva; the germs caused a disease, which killed off everyone who was already living there. But the germs didn’t hurt the new people; these new people were perfectly healthy, they lived on. The germs only killed the people who were there first.
What is the most selfish thing you have ever done?
We have to play well with others, in order to make a buck. Every toddler will one day realize this. Mommy can’t wipe your fanny forever and believe me, she doesn’t want to. (And if she does, then you have a scary mommy.)
People who lose their arms and legs, or the use of their arms and legs, they still want to live. They go on living. Some other people, fortunate people who can walk and clap and run their fingers through their hair, are driving in their cars thinking, “I just don’t want to live anymore. I don’t want to go on living.”
We may be generous, but we can’t give our arms and legs to people who don’t have them. When I say we, I’m just talking about myself. If you don’t consider me part of your group, or human subset, then none of this applies.