Try asking this to anyone or for that matter your own self and you know the answer always is “No.”, almost. You might even offend people if you ask this question directly but people always seem to find some kind of pleasure when it comes to passing on the comment all the time like “He/she is selfish. I do not want to hear his/her name. Bla, bla, bla…” Sometime people say this anecdotally and sometime they say with heart-breaking facts that make us real sad and angry. However the facts are always relative, just like they say, ‘ever since Einstein discovered the theory of relativity everything is so relative’. “Selfish” is a relative term and to some extent everyone in the world is selfish. Some go beyond the limit to promote self-interest at the cost of others and some do it just to protect one’s interest without hurting/exploiting others. The later remains very common and former is not too common. However it’s the hurting kinds that make the world disgusting place. What kind of selfishness can we accept and what we can’t? There is not defined boarder line. Acceptable level of selfishness changes by culture and places. But, there are selfish people in and every part of the world. For example, in America, if you ask for a car ride and thank the person at the end of the ride, you paid it back. The person who gave you car ride will not expect anything more from you. The story ends right there. In Nepal, if you ask for a car ride, whoever gives you the ride thinks that he/she did a big favor to you and next time you forget to mention about that, the fellow will cast you as selfish (I am sure there are many Nepalese exceptions to this.)
Some people never want to seek help from others and never want to become burden to anybody else. They hide their sorrows and pain behind their plastic smiles in front of others trying to pretend as if they are the happiest in the world. Even if they are hungry with no penny in the pocket and no food in the kitchen, they never go to others asking for help. They drive themselves to the limit trying to avoid undue help from others. What kind of nature is this? Is this shyness? Is this self-esteem? Or is this self-respect? Asking help from others is as good as being dead. Few of these people may hurt themselves and lose a lot and cause a big damage to their personal life. But, many of such kind of people eventually find the way out of the trouble and succeed in achieving what they want. I really feel sorry for few of those people who avoid asking sincere and humanitarian help from dear and near ones when they really need some. What I am trying to get here is that seeking help from others is not being selfish. Seeking help all the time and forgetting someone who stood there for you when you were in dire straits and failing to acknowledge that someone is being selfish.
Some people exploit others big time. They become successful using others left and right. They know how to make kind-hearted people feel near to them. They manipulate innocent and benevolent people and exploit their humanity and kindness. These cunning people use good people at every step of their life and forget all of them as they go to the next step. They are so shrewd and cunning that they become successful in finding and exploiting good people as/when they need. These kind of people hurt many good people in the world giving the impression that ‘exploitation’ is the key and not help. I have seen good/innocent people in tears after having been deceived by the people they once trusted and gave all they could. Many have started doubting their own judgment. “How could I do that?” “How did I fail to recognize the snake?”
When you look yourself into a mirror, it makes you ponder what kind of person you are? Have you ever taken an undue advantage of anyone? Have you submitted yourself to anyone for your personal gain? Have you begged for any help from anyone thinking that you would never have to pay back? Have you ever lied to anyone for career or financial gain? Have you ditched anyone? Hopefully, a straight “no” would be that answers that you will find. But, that’s the way many of you see yourself. You do not know what others think of you. This is always mystery to many and you are one of them. I am sure many people call you selfish. Can you defend yourself against such charges? As long as all of us can defend ourselves from such charges, we should not be worrying about someone calling us selfish. That’s why I call it a relative term – not the absolute one.
A son/daughter who ignores his/her parents is selfish and cannot defend him/herself no matter how hard he/she tries because without parents support it is very difficult to establish identity as a person (I am sure there are some exceptions.) A younger brother who is helped by his elder bothers after death of the parents, given all support and care to get educated, and ultimately ends up being successful and then starts exhibiting ‘arrogance’ by trying to spread the message across that he is self-made is a true selfish. I have seen some of these hypocrites and I am sure many of you have too. A husband who is helped by his wife going up the career ladder and who ditches his wife afterwards is a coward and a loser. He does not have courage to accept his past. This kind of selfish person is the one who makes the world ugly place. A person who makes friendship for the sake of snapshot gain is an unquestionably selfish. These kinds of people make the world unfriendly and hostile place. All kinds of liars are selfish, no matter how small the lie it may be if they hurt others for personal gain.
Bottom line is one should never hesitate in asking for help as there is no dearth of people in the world who are willing to help others. The only criterion here is not to forget the person who helped you and making sure that the person is acknowledged, appreciated and moreover thanked. Remember there are no free lunches unless you want to be recognized as “selfish.”