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.

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?

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!