Let’s Not Let Self-Interest Get the Better of Us

By Paula Henriquez

What concerns me most is how can
we lower the egotismo index.

HAVANA TIMES – Life is in constant motion, it’s not like an exact and infinite spiral that spins on its own axis.  Every bend brings small changes, some of which are good, others not so much. The most worrying thing about this coming and going is human nature.

Every day, there are more and more people who think selfishly and defend their own interests. They do so even if it means having to step all over their fellow human beings. We see this every day in everything we do, where we work, in line at the store, on a bus.

The story I’m going to tell you today hasn’t come from somebody else. I saw it unfold in front of my own two eyes some time ago while I was on my way to work on a city bus.

A young pregnant woman was walking to the back of the moving bus because she couldn’t find a seat. The places reserved for pregnant women and the disabled were occupied. So she decided to ask for help, her physical exhaustion clear on her face and her swollen feet.

She went up to a man about 30 years old, with a body that was clearly sculpted by exercise. She kindly asked him if he could give her his seat.

The young man got up with an annoyed look on his face. He told her, very rudely, that he would give her the seat, but it wasn’t his obligation to do so.

The young woman recognized that he was right and tried to carry on talking. But the man cut her off and began to violently shout at her, seeking support and approval from other passengers.

My biggest surprise

To my surprise, some passengers began to chime in to the tune of this heartless man. What’s going on went through my mind? I couldn’t believe what I was hearing and seeing, but that wasn’t the worst of it.

I was left completely shocked when I heard a woman join in this kind of witch-hunt. The only thing that crossed my mind was that this woman hadn’t been blessed in this life with the gift of being a mother. If she had, I couldn’t understand her complete lack of empathy.

It was too much for me and I walked over to where the man was. I said in a very sweet, low voice, it wasn’t a matter of being right, but a matter of humanity. At this point, I was waiting for the heated bodybuilder to put me in my place, but luckily that didn’t happen.

Fortunately, he chose to ignore me. Although not before seeing his desire to do not very pleasant things to me, let’s say, plastered on his face. He went to the back of the bus, where he stayed in silence until he reached his destination.

This is only one of the many experiences like this that we see every day. Self-interest and dehumanization lurk all around us like natural behavior. A lot of the time, many people approve of such, like the incident I’ve just told you about.

There are many things that need to be changed, but every evolutionary process has a starting point. Let’s call this a kind of foundation to support the weight of everything that comes after.

That’s what our humanity is. Without it, what will our future be like as a species? What do we leave behind to our descendants?

We must move away from this selfish human behavior, this excessive sense of one’s own importance. I have said it before: we are a whole that is traveling in the same direction.

Read more posts by Paula Henriquez here.

Paula Henriquez

Paula Henriquez: Since childhood I have been told I should be careful what I say in public. "Think before you speak, especially in front of others," my mother would say, and it was more of a plea than a scolding. Even today I hear her and I obey her, just that I do not speak, I write. Letters and words are my escape, my exit and daily catharsis, which printed on paper, revive me. And this picture is my refuge.

3 thoughts on “Let’s Not Let Self-Interest Get the Better of Us

  • October 10, 2020 at 4:35 am

    I travelled to Cuba last year. In havana I found the attidude of some Cubans had changed from my previous visit, 2014. I would take my place in the tail, (queue) & when it was my turn I would receive abuse that I should not be there or go to the back. I found a lot of professional beggars who were very agressive if refused. I also met people with great humility. I brought as much as I could to Cuba which was received with gratitude & will return as soon as possible.

  • October 7, 2020 at 6:35 pm

    A real example of the macho culture!

  • October 7, 2020 at 2:33 pm

    Humanity is made up of all types.
    Including selfish, filthy, self-aggrandising scum.
    They lurk everywhere.
    In the City where I reside you got buses with cctv in them. However that doesn’t stop the verbal abuse, threats, sexual abuse, punch ups, knifings and unfortunately sometimes even worse.
    The Bus Driver, who has sole responsibility for the welfare of the passengers, carries out driving, fare taking and all other responsibilities from behind extremely thick protective glass to deter robbery attempts, physical attacks, acid attacks, spitting etc…….
    We are talking about basic and necessary forms of transport which take people from a to b.
    Paula hits the nail on the head:
    ‘Let’s not let self interest get the better of us’.
    I would like to take this sentiment and translate it into significantly more visceral terminology but if I did so, Mr Circles would quite understandably not air my comment.

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