The Third Perspective – People are per definition selfish and…who really cares?

Some numbers..

  • There are probably more then a 170 billion galaxies in the observable universe.
  • The Milky Way galaxy that Earth is in, is estimated to be about 9×1017 km across (yep, a lot of zeros behind that 9).
  • 100 billion stars are believed to be able to be found in our Milky Way Galaxy.
  • The oldest star known to exist in our galaxy is 13.2 billion years.
  • The Earth’s diameter is 12,756km.
  • The Earth’s atmosphere is 480km thick.
  • The highest mountain on Earth is 8.8km high (Mt Everest).

The reason for these numbers is to put things in perspective about what part we play as the human race in the bigger scheme of things.

We know that there is not enough air up the top of Mt Everest to breathe for us to survive. That means that everything that we hold dear to us is developing in a tiny, tiny, tiiiiiny shell of mixed gases that is about 8km thick. That’s about 26,575 times smaller then the earth’s diameter.

We live in a gaseous layer that has a thickness similar to the price tag we have to peel off a newly bought 2.3m high bookcase, relatively speaking!

Besides that.. There’s a 100 billion stars in our galaxy alone and 170 billion galaxies in our universe! So? What’s the point of ramming that message home? We kinda know that don’t we? Well.. yes.. But most people seem to lose perspective. They seem to think that everything that they do is changing the universe as we know it.. Yes, the human race is messing things up..But if you put things in perspective we are only messing things for ourselves and the other animal and plant species living with us. Really.. everything we do is going to primarily going to affect us alone. If we really screw things up, the human race will just disspear and the rest of galaxy will not even blink an eye and keep on going on the way it has been going for the last 13.2 billion years or so. The human race has only been on this planet for about 200,000 years which is 66,000 times as short as the universe.

In summary, everything we do, is not aimed at the best interest of everything else in existence. No, it is for the benefit of ourselves.
Even saving the planet, decreasing ozone gases, recycling our waste and so on, we are only doing for ourselves. We’re not even doing it for the millions of animal species that we’re sharing our space with. We’re doing it because if those species were not there, the human race wouldn’t be able to survive and we wouldn’t have such a healthy planet to live on. No plants, no air to breathe. No animals, nothing to eat (for the vegetarians out there, many plants grow because of the animals polinating and such).

Combine that with the fact that the Human Race is just a fancy term for another animal species. This means that, like all other species of animal, we act upon impulses from our nerveous system that result from our interaction with the rest of the world around us. It also means that we are governed by the “pain is bad, pleasure is good” principle. It keeps us alive. It keeps us multiplying..
It also means that any actions like giving money to third world countries, helping elderlies cross the street, recycling our garbage, are solely done because we want to decrease pain and increase pleasure in ourselves. We feel bad that the atmosphere is seemingly heating up, so we try to decrease our displeasure by cycling to work. However.. if it is raining we seem to hurt a little bit more by thinking that we’re going to get wet and not so much that the atmosphere is heating up around us.

Plus combine that again with the fact that the societies of humans living on this planet are all made up out of individuals that act for their own self-benefit. There is no “master-plan”. There is only a collection of selfish individuals. We as the human race do not intentionally cut down trees and suffocate the rest of the world. We do not intentionally make extinct other animal species. Those are always results of decisions that we make as individuals based on our own self-interest. “Do I take the car to work today or shall I cycle? Well.. it looks like it’s going to rain and I don’t want to get wet so I’ll take the car”. “Shall I purchase free range eggs today? Perhaps not, because they are dearer than the cage hen eggs and I don’t have enough money with me”

Sites like The Story of Stuff are all wonderful sites that do try to give you an overview of what is happing.. However, they seem to try and pursuade people by playing their guilt card. Making people feel bad about what’s happing. Throwing words around like sustainability and such.. That is all good and well.. But what really would be a good way to tackle this is from the point of view that humans are selfish.. It should be easier to recycle than to throw away stuff in the landfill. It should be easier to cycle to work than to drive to work in a car. Nothing will change if people are still going to make the same choices even though now in the back of their mind there is the guilt feeling of suffocating the atmosphere.

Then there is the “them and us” feeling. The conviction that others are the source of all evil rather than being able to look at oneself and say that indeed they are part of the issue. Often country governments are blamed for oodles of issues in those countries. But in most countries where there is a democracy, the entity of government is just a bunch of individuals that have been chosen by the rest in that country to make decisions for the rest of them on how to run it. We forget that these individuals are also humans. That they are inherently selfish like the rest of us. They will make numerous individual decisions that will clump together into how the country gets run. There really is no one person that runs the show.. Even in countries like the US, people seem to forget that apart from the president there are numerous individuals making selfish decisions every day that add up to the daily running of the country. It’s not just the president that sits in his little office pulling all the strings.. It’s numereous voices, some louder than others all having a say and trying to benefit themselves.. That is just the way it is.

But really.. does anyone care? Well.. we should care I guess. Because no one else will…


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