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A November to Remember, Verse 4: Of Motive and Movember

Jim Sullivan, special guest speaker, sharing his story of surviving prostate cancer
Jim Sullivan, special guest speaker, sharing his story of surviving prostate cancer.

What’s the difference between a good person and the ones to be wary of? Or a good and an evil action? What helps us to draw the line between right and wrong in anything we do?

Reasoning. Intent. Motive.

Motive. Motive makes all the difference. It defines the things we do for personal gain versus those we do for people simply because we care about them. It’s why we look down on the common thief yet admire Robin Hood. Motive defines how we are perceived, always working in the background behind every decision we make.

So Is It WRONG To Be Selfish???

From L-R, @AmandaBlake9, myself with the GOTSTYLE prize pack, @michaelkim, @fastdrvr
We can all be a little selfish sometimes — as seen from my notoriety for winning stuff….

Yesterday we took a look at selfishness. When I brought forth the idea that selflessness is completely possible, I got some interesting counter-points, like:

“There’s no such thing as true selflessness. The act of giving or pursuit to assist others is in and of itself a means of self indulgence.”

Justin Baisden

“Being selfish is an important part of our own survival. If we don’t always consider ourselves first, the probability of our own survival declines immensely. I don’t even know that it’s a bad thing. Our social conditioning throughout the ages is that the strong survive. ”

Zach Bussey

“Yes, people derive satisfaction from doing things that benefit others. But I think in many (if not most cases) we would do something “selfless” because we genuinely want to see someone else benefit/prosper/succeed.”

Erik Kingissepp

Summarizing:

  • everyone’s a bit selfish — so what?
  • we need selfishness to survive
  • selfishness  isn’t the root of the problem; the real problem is when our self-interests don’t align with the interests of the greater population

I’d agree with Erik, though, and would argue that motive is the key difference between selfishness and self-interest.

My reasons for being at The Big Give definitely started out as selfish — my notorious luck in full swing, friends had already told me that I’d be going home with a ridiculous amount of swag on top of whatever else I happened to win. To me, attending wasn’t even an option. But there’s a blurry line between our selfishness simply adding to our lives… and that selfishness negatively affecting the lives of others. It’s fine to do something for your sake alone now and then, but too much of it will make you unpleasant company to just about anybody.

With that said, the very next day, it was time to change the tune. Amanda Blake, a friend of mine, was throwing one of her After Work Drinks Toronto (#AWDTO) events,  where she’d asked me to attend as the official photographer. And because I like Amanda and the great person that she is, I said yes. But why else?

#AWDTO Movember Edition: Selflessness Is Possible

Family. Friendship. These are the kids of bonds where the entire idea of selflessness comes from. We’re taught from a young age that if we behave; if we do what we’re told — our actions will equal to rewards. But as we grow older, we discover the inequities in life. We find out that sometimes no matter how hard we try, we’ll see no improvements to our lives — sometimes there’re simply no rewards for the blood, sweat and tears that we put in!

The simple fact: it is so easy to get screwed over in life!

So why do we help if it’s unrealistic to expect anything for what we do?

Because we can be selfless. We can do things for others simply because we like them. And because this is completely possible, events like #AWDTO: Movember Edition can exist. Above, Zach pointed out that selfishness is important to our survival. But he also commented on the nature of selflessness and where we’re going next:

“[W]hen you’re able to consider others and give back… everyone goes “Hey that’s awesome good for you!” and we give praise… because we recognize that value in doing it. Our new world of having plenty (in Canada at least), is teaching us to do more… social good, giving back, charity, caring for others etc. 

Overnight will we all become charitable/giving/caring/selfless etc… no. Takes time to reprogram ourselves… but it is definitely taking hold in the collective consciousness.”

— Zach Bussey

 Giving a Little Mo’

In the course of 24 hours, I’d gone from seeing people clearly out for their own interests, willing to nearly trample one another to go home with a bit extra — to a different kind of crowd altogether. Some where there to support friends. Some to network. Some people eyed the prize table as soon as they came in. But the glitz was gone. The glamour was absent. In the end, there was just a room full of people just looking to have a good time.

And we would. We would meet new people We’d learn about the experiences of a prostate cancer survivor and why it was important to support the cause. Some of us would win prizes, all of us would leave a little changed — and I don’t think that anyone was worse off for it.

Organizer and DJ Andrew Lo playing the music for the party
Not only did he help organize, but DJ Andrew Lo was on the 1s and 2s for the night’s party!

So if anyone tells you that we’re all inherently selfish, or say that everyone is ultimately out for themselves — I want you to remember this: a selfish world cannot work. If we all cared for ourselves alone and never for the people that we care about, society couldn’t grow. We wouldn’t collaborate. Ideas that need more than one person’s abilities wouldn’t happen as often. Humanity would stagnate.

We all need each other to keep growing in this world. So let’s all be a little less selfish and make it happen!

–case p.

Next in the series: That time when Casey and Sarah took a little break to cruise in the Caribbean and what it taught them about themselves and WHY they appreciate Toronto.

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A November to Remember, Verse 3: The Song of the Selfish

As we get closer to the Christmas season and I continue to reflect on what I learned in November, I find myself asking a question:

Are all people ultimately only acting in their own interests? Is it human nature to be selfish?

This was the topic of a heated discussion the other day where fellow Torontonian CamMi Pham declared:

https://twitter.com/cammipham/status/276771716884230146

I’m not about to drag you back through the grisly affair, but while I definitely agree that there’s a ton of evidence that people can be selfish, my stance is that there are plenty of people yet who are selfless and just want to make the world around them a little better than it was when they first entered it.

The Big Give – aka – The Naughty List

I’m not much of a “party guy” — hard to believe, I know — I’m more into one-on-one interactions and small group settings where we can all enjoy each other’s company. Even at large events, I’m way more at ease when I have a solid group of friends around me.

When the music’s blaring, bodies are gyrating and the crowd looking glam, I’ll keep up with the best of ’em, but it’s not my scene.

So enter: The Big Give.

The Big Give, a charity benefit for Look Good, Feel Better (or LGFB — described by their site as “an organization that holds 1200 seminars for women and teenage girls who have just been diagnosed with cancer. The seminars teach these women how to maintain their self-confidence and elevate their self-image through their battle with cancer. The Look Good Feel Better workshop brings women with cancer together in a safe and supportive environment where they can share stories, insights, laughter, and feel ‘normal'”), was a very happening party, but I don’t ever remember feeling as lost at a party as I did in the first moments of that night. I made small talk with some of the volunteers and took advantage of the candy bar and not-so-candy (read: open) bar, but perhaps not knowing anyone there  reminded me of my transition from high school to university: going from somewhere where I knew everyone and everyone knew me, to somewhere where I was a biggish fish in a massive ocean, trying to find my way.

The candy bar at The Big Give
Some of my favourite selections from this table were sour strawberries and peaches! Was talking too often to enjoy as many as I would’ve liked to, though 🙁

Once some familiar faces started showing up, my aimless wandering came to a halt, but I still felt like I wasn’t on the pulse of the event. People dressed to kill. Anyone who came in the door quickly found their pack and a corner of the room where they could congregate. The openness and warmth I’m used to from the world of tweetups were absent in the blue hues filling the Berkley Church and washing over all the party people. It helped me realize one thing…

I’m not meant to be one of the “beautiful people”.

No, I’m the type who’s your best friend’s best friend. The funny guy in the room who makes sure that everyone’s enjoying themselves. I’m not there to look the best. I’m not trying to walk a red carpet and act like I’m better than anyone else. I just want everyone to have a great time.

All things considered, though, all was not amiss at The Big Give. Regardless of however I felt, the event still had much to offer, such as:

  • dancers to get people on the dance floor (no one ended up going on the dance floor)
  • free booze (of which people partook plenty)
  • free photos

But let’s get back to our original question — is selfishness simply in human nature?

Dancing With Wolves

In my heart of hearts, I would love to believe that people were there to support LGFB and simply have a good time — but behaviour would prove otherwise.

We all struggle with the siren song of swag.

Two of the big things that people were there for were the grab bags of legendary size that they distributed at the night’s end (which weighed 20 pounds apiece), and the ridiculously awesome raffle prizes that they had up for grabs!

But as the night wore on, our host Mike Chalut’s voice wore out and the crazier the contests got! From a raffle to a dance-off to a frenzied free-for-all, the night would end with women clawing, screaming and scraping past each other to get Mike’s attention — and for what? Jewellery? Gift cards? Gym memberships?

JessGo doing a live art presentation
This painting by JessGo would end up going for $5,000!

Perhaps it’s true. Perhaps many people in the world are selfish and act primarily out of self-interest. But it’s not everybody. That doesn’t account for the woman who bought a painting at the event for $5,000. It doesn’t really account for the people who believe in LGFB enough to give their time, products and services to make sure that the event was a success. And if you’ll bear with me for one more day to convince you, I think there’s a lot more in the world that such a narrow outlook doesn’t account for.

What about you, readers? Do you think I’m too off-base? Do I need to take a look in the mirror before I cast the first stone? Or is everyone in this world completely self-centred, and I’m simply living a life in denial?

Love to hear from you! Until tomorrow,

–case p.

Tomorrow: Karma, good deeds and how the month of Movember continued!