What Does It Feel Like To Be Selfish?

When I am in my character defects of dishonesty, self-seeking, selfishness, inconsideration and fear, I tighten, compress and narrow. When I am tall and free and easy, I am serene, open and happy.

When I want something so badly that I think of nobody else’s needs, I tighten and compress and my worldview narrows. I’m like a monkey putting his hand in a trap to grab something shiny but then finds he can only get his arm out by releasing the shiny trinket.

When I am dishonest, my stomach feels queasy and my body tenses up because I know there are likely to be consequences I won’t like. When I put satisfaction of my basic instincts above their appropriate place, I tighten as I realize I’m stepping on other people and they’re going to retaliate.

All ideological beliefs are just unnecessary body tension. You can’t believe anything (as opposed to a state of awareness) without tightening and compressing your neck and torso.

When you read Paul in the New Testament, you can tell he could never read Hebrew. No clue. Good to read Alt Right in original context. I feel like there is nobody I can’t understand, can’t empathize with, from Hitler to Caesar to Napoleon to Mao to Stalin.

>Empathize with Hitler? How exactly?

Understand why he felt he had to do hard things to protect his people.

>But both his justifications (“jewish conspiracy”) and methods were appalling. Or are you concerned only with the vague goal of “protecting his people”? And let’s not forget he was the greatest butcher of Germans in history, and >showed no empathy for them at the end.

I’m interested in understanding where people come from. How they see the world. Judging people is an entirely different thing. Both perspectives have their place. All moral judgments depend upon a subjective leap of faith.

>So you don’t believe in objective and universal moral imperatives, such as “don’t willfully kill children”?

Sure, but those imperatives are based upon a subjective leap of faith (which I make as an Orthodox Jew). Everything has its use, even atheism, because that perspective enables one to view the world as different life forms competing for survival and you can let go of the need to categorize some groups as good and others as bad.

There’s a famous Hasidic story about a rebbe who taught that everything has its place in God’s world. “Even atheism?” asked one student. “Even atheism,” said the rebbe, “because when you see a poor person, you should give to him as though there were no God in the universe to help.”

Most Jewish orgs think that if the Alt Right comes to town, you fight them. I say that as long as they desist from criminal behavior, you take them to lunch, you get to know them, you help them with accommodation, you offer to show them around town, you offer them help with medical and dental care, job hunting, etc. You support their right to free speech and to free assembly. You identify with their desire for the white equivalent of Zionism. You read their sacred texts. You learn their language. You speak to them in their language. You try to find common ground. And you don’t seek anything in return.

That’s how the Mennonites roll. They don’t compete with other groups. They only seek to love others and to be of service. As a result, there’s not a lot of anti-Mennonite sentiment.

About Luke Ford

I've written five books (see Amazon.com). My work has been covered in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and on 60 Minutes. I teach Alexander Technique in Beverly Hills (Alexander90210.com).
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