This doesn't look civilized

I had a great talk with a good friend this morning about the idea of sacrifice being a positive or negative.  Sacrifice is usually considered the greatest good one can do.  Selfishness usually defines the worst people on the planet.  I think the reason for this is because we generally use loose definitions for them.  Definitions that really don’t make any sense.

Objectivism offers more accurate, effective definitions.  My friend helped me realize the simplest way to differentiate is to recognize whether love is involved or not.  “Sacrifice” out of love is rational selfishness (which I’ll just call selfishness).  “Sacrifice” without love is sacrificial.

I heard Oprah has been talking about how she “sacrificed” having a family so she could work 24/7 on her show.  Assuming she loves her show, Oprah was not sacrificial in her actions, she was selfish.

When I give up a night working on a project to go see my sister play in a volleyball game I’m being selfish.

When I give up a night partying to study, I’m not sacrificing, I’m being selfish.

When someone makes me feel guilty for some group of starving people and I give them money to rid the guilt, that’s sacrificial.

When I take time out of my day to help someone I don’t like, that’s sacrificial.

So selfishness is not hoarding all good for yourself unless you don’t love anyone.  Selfishness is acting in your highest good; in Atlas Shrugged that meant John Galt giving his life for Dagny Taggart.