When you look at societies and nations, you can see patterns. You can see that certain nations rise to greatness in a short time. Certain nations stagnate for centuries. One can ask oneself, what are the circumstances under which a nation rises and another keeps spinning its wheels going nowhere ?
One thing that one notices is that, in the nations that rise to greatness, there is a sense of togetherness, there is a sense of sacrifice. People let go of their selfish, near terms needs and wants, and do things not for themselves only, but for the good of country. They may not brag about it. They may even complain of the hardship. Nevertheless, at the core of their progress is this collective sense that we are all in this together.
In the nations that work and work and can't seem to make any progress, you can see, every body is struggling to get his own share. Every one is trying for himself it is always about me. "my job", "my son", "my money".
These nations are trapped in their own selfishness. They remain incapable of group and collaborative work. Every one says, "You want ME to work, so that HE benefits" "You want me to PAY, so that HE gets to eat" "Why do I have to do this? Let somebody else do the hard part" "Don't make ME pay for HIS well being !! "
And when the selfish and un-sympathetic people combine their lack of sympathy with aggresiveness more often than not they get to control the levers of power in the government. When that happens this country falls deeper and deeper, into the selfishness trap.
The government is the place for people who care for their country and their nation.
Under no circumstances, a person who does not care for his or her people should get any where near any position of power and authority in the government apparatus. Such people would destroy every thing and every one. Both long term and short term future of a country is at great peril when the upper echelon of the government of that nation is occupied by selfishness, greed and ignorance.
Extreme selfishness is contagious. When one person sees that another person has gotten ahead by trying to look after his or her own interest to the exclusion of others, that person decides to forget about any cooperation and to take care of his own interest.
So what to do ? How do we get out of this trap ?
It is incumbent on selfless people to take on this challenge. They must find each other and learn to trust each other. The government and the education system must be first and foremost cleansed and purified. The education system is of great importance.
Unfortunately when selfishness is widespread and chronic, families learn to teach selfishness to their children. That's when the future generation is contaminated. That's where education comes in.
Pupils must be thought, that this is a ship. We are all in this together. If I take care of you, and you take care of me, we will all benefit, we will all be better off. If I help you realize your idea and your dream, and you return the favor by helping me, we will all realize our dreams. Selfish behavior must be punished, selfless sacrifice must be rewarded. Individuals can be praised for their talents, BUT they should not be promoted to the level of heroism and divinity.
These must not be slogans, the society must internalize them. This will take a while, but it's necessary.
Also, we have to notice that our planet is actually a space ship. In addition there is no shore and no life boat. If we the inhabitants of this ship make it uninhabitable, there is no place to go. Currently It seems that the entire planet is in selfishness trap.
The developed countries are moving their polluting industries to the poor countries, the poor countries trying to raise money for their impoverished nations can't get enough of these industries. Every one is trying to have it all, and no one is prepared to give up on even the slight amount of convenience.
This problem will not be solved only through educating the public. The entire socio-economic order must change. As Noam Chomsky has pointed out, a system that considers amassing material wealth at all costs, a virtue, even praiseworthy, will destroy itself in time. The technological underpinning of this economic system must change radically.
Nevertheless if your scope is a country and its people, the goal of creating a nation with solidarity, justice, improved well being and hopeful future, is feasible.
This goal is worth living for. It is even worth dying for. at least, I think so.