Are Human Beings Naturally Selfish?

Siboniso Mawandla | The Republic Mail

So in my opinion, yes human beings are selfish, we are built to negotiate things so that they work in our favour. We almost never do anything for someone without expecting something in return, writes Mthethwa Thandeka. 

When last did you do something that only benefits the person you are helping or trying to help? And what was the motivating factor behind you trying to help them, how did you feel after helping them? Chances are you felt good after helping them, you had this great sense of relief, why was this so? Well, some might say it is because we do something because we want to get something out of it, we expect something out of it even if you do not see this or expect it.

When someone comes up to you and asks you for something, you are either naturally inclined to help them or not. But then if you are, the first question you ask yourself before helping them is how would I feel if I don’t help them? Therefore this might be all about your benefit more than what they want to ultimately achieve which you do not take into consideration.

Take for instance, when you want to complete a task but someone wants your help and you say no. Do you say no because you want to complete your task before they do, because you don’t want to share your information or you simply do not know how to help them? If you are the one person who never wants to help other people mainly because you feel that helping them compromises your knowledge and your position as a know it all, then you are certainly a definition of a selfish human being.

A more common example exists within our families. Think of how your parents always want you to do exceptionally well at school just so they can brag to their neighbours about how well their “smart” child is doing at school, college, university or even at a work place as compared to their kids.

Think of how you wake up early in the morning just so you can have that remote controller first because if you don’t, you will be stuck watching the thousand soccer channels on supersport the whole day. Everyone in every family is guilty of this one, you might even be one of those who sleep with the remote controller because you don’t want to watch all the other channels that do not fascinate you as much when compared to your siblings.

Are you one of those people who like giving back to the communities that either surround them or not, like donating large amounts of money towards an organization and then feeling good about it? And if yes, then that act on its own makes you selfish because if you are thinking of your feelings rather than just giving without expecting something in return, you are selfish. What this basically means is that, almost in every situation you put yourself in, you either want pain or pleasure. No one will put themselves in a situation expecting pain so, we all want pleasure.

The last thing I want you to think of is when you go to church and do tithes and offering. When you lay that money down, you make a commitment to God that if he helps you in a certain situation, and you will praise and worship him. And how when you are in trouble, you pray and ask him to get you out of that situation and then in return, you will praise him and stop all the bad things you were doing.

So in my opinion, yes human beings are selfish, we are built to negotiate things so that they work in our favour. We almost never do anything for someone without expecting something in return. It is always about, if I do this for you, how am I going to benefit from it and this is not to say that being selfish is wrong. In fact, there is nothing wrong with being selfish because you are simply looking out for your interests and making the best of every situation presented to you. Being selfish is almost something that humans do without even recognizing that they are being selfish, so one way or the other, it is like we can’t avoid it.