Generosity Toward The Selfish

Before criticizing a person who is selfish to the point of hurtfulness, consider how much fear and insecurity that person must have to believe that the only way to get ahead in life is to do so in spite of others.

Selfishness, especially when taken to the extreme, is the outward manifestation of fear. It is rooted in the fear of being alone, unloved, and unsupported by a larger community, the fear of scarcity, that there is not or will not be enough, and the fear that we live in a world wherein we must ultimately fend for ourselves.

For a person who was raised to believe that we should be generous, giving, and community-focused, it may be difficult to understand how and why another person can only think about his or herself to the point of actually hurting others. To this person, such selfishness may even seem immoral.

Being truly generous, however, means not only giving of oneself, one’s time, and one’s wealth, no matter how little of each of these one has in excess. At a deeper level, generosity means having a generous spirit. This means trying to understand others, giving them the benefit of the doubt and room to be themselves, no matter how flawed they may be, and forgiving them for these flaws because they may not actually be their fault, just like our outlook on life is not solely the result of our own decisions either.


Holistic Budo: As it is in budo, so too it is in life. As it is in life, so too it is in budo.

Robert Van Valkenburgh is co-founder of Taikyoku Mind & Body and Kogen Dojo where he teaches Taikyoku Budo and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, as well as a founding member of the Severna Park and Baltimore Holistic Chamber of Commerce.

Artwork by Ana, except where otherwise noted.

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