Prioritising yourself should be a principal life focus, we are told. Offload toxic friends, unfollow those you don’t like anymore, say no to an invitation without making up an excuse – be selfish, the self-help gurus intone. You deserve it.
I say do whatever floats your boat, but when your self-focus adversely affects others in a major way, please throw out that internal love and light mantra and consider the harm your selfishness can cause.
Cases of such egotism are not hard to find – and plenty were on show this past month as we dealt with the ongoing pandemic. There was the COVID-positive Victorian couple who fled their locked-down region and ended up in our neck of the woods. The woman did not get tested despite having symptoms, they did not get an exemption to enter Queensland and they didn’t go into quarantine on arrival. The selfishness was breathtaking. Their $4000 fines hardly seem enough.
The current cluster in New South Wales that has marred school holiday bookings on the Sunshine Coast started with a limousine driver who transported flight crew to and from hotel quarantine.
The rules are that such drivers need to be tested daily, but he didn’t partake. His selfishness set off a chain reaction, a series of disease bombs that continue to go off in unforeseen places over the border.
Can such selfish people please just not? Social pressure may squeeze this trend into submission, filling a space that the threat of fines and mandated legal requirements doesn’t seem to penetrate.
But the selfishness scourge extends beyond law breaking into our very social fibre. The litterer on the Maroochy River waterfront. The one who defecates but does not bury in the sand dunes at Teewah. The person who insists on playing the profane music loudly on the bus.
We can do better in being less selfish. It is applying a little bit of ‘woah’ on Nicklin Way in the race between the lights and letting the panicked driver next to you switch lanes. It is the offering to let someone with two items go through the checkout before you at the supermarket. It is the not going to work when you feel ill, because you could hurt an entire business.
If altruism seems a bridge too far, some basic consideration is surely not too much to hope for. Let’s start with baby steps.