Monday, 31 May 2010

Me, Me, Me

People these days seem to be obsessed with themselves. They’re focussed on what they can get out of situations; they want to get the best for them. Even if what they’re doing will affect many other people negatively, if they get something positive out of it themselves, they’re much less likely to care. Increasing numbers of people (adults and children) want to become celebrities to become centres of attention and increasingly few people possess the trait of humility. Granted, some people are naturally less concerned about other however that doesn’t explain why so many put helping others as second (or even lower) priority after themselves.

The UK election highlighted this through the general view on taxes and the NHS. People almost unanimously want a better NHS, a better level of FREE health treatment but those same people also want lower taxes. I can understand the poor wanting lower taxes but it really frustrates me when those who can afford it demand for lower taxes or at least protest against tax rises. They request lower taxes because they want more money for themselves, they don’t want to part with their beloved cash. They don’t even begin to think why they pay taxes, the positive contribution that paying taxes has on their country. In the words of Wikipedia:

“Funds provided by taxation have been used by states and their functional equivalents throughout history to carry out many functions. Some of these include expenditures on war, the enforcement of law and public order, protection of property, economic infrastructure (roads, legal tender, enforcement of contracts, etc.), public works, social engineering, and the operation of government itself. Governments also use taxes to fund welfare and public services. These services can include education systems, health care systems, pensions for the elderly, unemployment benefits, and public transportation. Energy, water and waste management systems are also common public utilities. Colonial and modernizing states have also used cash taxes to draw or force reluctant subsistence producers into cash economies.”
(Emphasis added)

I don’t know about you, but I’d quite like most of these to be well funded, even if I’m not the one directly benefitting. However, so many people want the benefits of taxes without the cost of paying taxes. They want free health care, good education, good roads, and a good pension to look forward to, good transport systems and generally for public amenities to be as good and free as possible without any cost for themselves.

The problem is that if no one pays, no one benefits. We’re in a vicious circle where if we aren’t prepared to pay to help others, others won’t be prepared to pay either and we won’t have any benefit either. If we all paid more attention to the needs of others then it would make our lives better as well.

Now, I’m not saying I support a fully communist way of living. That takes things to the extreme where people can become lazy. I don’t think people should gain from being lazy or doing nothing but that doesn’t mean that people shouldn’t look out for each other. People these days have taken it to the extreme where they rarely care for anyone beyond their immediate family.

I think part of why people are so focussed on themselves and so forgetful of the needs of others is because the culture of today is so gravitated towards instant gratification. The instant effect of what we do, here and now. Instant coffee, instant messenger, instant loans, instant holidays, instant access, instant display... instant, instant, instant. People forget the long term affect of their actions on others and themselves. Husbands delve into the world of the instant pleasure of adultery forgetting the long term heartbreak of losing their wife, their family, their respect and their integrity; People dive head long into the instant gratification of reality shows forgetting the short term nature of their ‘fame’ and the horrible side of all parts of their life being on show. People care less and less about the long term option until after they’ve chosen the ‘here and now’ option by which time it is too late.

In its simplest form it’s like giving a child the choice between one chocolate bar now or waiting five minutes for two. If you think about it, you get more from waiting five minutes but it’s so much easier to just eat the one chocolate bar, to get the instant here and now pleasure.

Everyone’s lives are so intricately entwined and people so often forget. To go with the imagery from ‘About a Boy’, we’re not all islands. We’re not all disconnected from everyone else but we’re more like a body. What we do and how we act affects others and similarly, what others do and how they act affects us. We need to work together much more and not be quite so ‘me, me, me’.

DFTBA, Terrie, I have not forgotten... (Even if you have!)

(And on that note, if anyone has any ideas for punishments for Terrie’s failure to blog in well over a week, please post them in the comments! Ta!)

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