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Those who are esteemed umpires of taste, are often persons who have acquired some knowledge of admired pictures or sculptures, andhave an inclination for whatever is elegant; but if you inquire whether they are beautiful souls, and whether their own acts are like fair pictures, you learn that they are selfish and sensual. Their cultivation is local, as if you should rub a log of dry wood in one spot to produce fire, all the rest remaining cold.
The simple recognition that everyone else wants to be happy and not to suffer, just as I do, serves as a constant reminder against selfishness and partiality. It reminds us there is little to be gained from being kind and generous while hoping to win something in return. Actions motivated by a desire to earn a good name for ourselves are still selfish, even if they appear to be acts of kindness.
I think it’s good to have your own selfish interests, whether it’s liking chocolate ice cream or wanting a new car. It’s just human nature is that. We have our own selfish interests. I think we have interests that go beyond our self to friends, to family first, maybe to friends, maybe to community. I think that’s important to think about those spheres of influence that radiate from you.
It is wonderful how shy even liberal ministers generally are about trusting people with the plain truth concerning their religion. They want to veil it in a supernatural haze. They are very reluctant to part with the old idea that God has given to Jews and Christians a peculiar monopoly of truth. It is a selfish view of God’s government of the world, and it is time that we knew enough to outgrow it.
All who strive to live for something beyond mere selfish aims find their capacities for doing good very inadequate to their aspirations. They do so much less than they want to do, and so much less than they, at the outset, expected to do, that their lives, viewed retrospectively, inevitably look like failure.