Growing up my father told me many axioms that were self-proclaimed laws of the land, more so edicts as to how every person should live their life. As he passed down many of his edicts, they often were stored in the part of my mind that says “remember this as the person who is speaking deserves a certain carte blanche, but accept it as true at your own peril.”
However, there is one law that he imparted on me–at the time, I was recusant to accept as fact. That fact is rule #4: Self-preservation is the SUPREME law of the land!
While later in life I would learn author,Samuel Butler set forth the very same principle– I fondly subscribe the principle to my father who learned it only through the misfortune of his adulting experience and the unkind hand that life dealt him.
In hindsight I have realized that I learned to care for others and put the needs of others before myself. While a necessity to having a functional society and ensuring continuity of human life, selfness, at first, can stand in opposition to accepting the idea of self-preservation.
Self-preservation is the principal of protecting oneself from ultimate demise–death. But in essences it is more than that. Self-preservation is the notion of guarding one’s soul from despair by giving away the key to entry to anyone and everyone; it is notion of discretion–holding back that immutable part of yourself (see rule #8); it is the notion of putting your essential needs (beyond the basics –food, sleep, etc…) for growth, development, etc.. before those of others.
While, easily confusable there is a fine line between self-preservation and being selfishness.
Selfish is when you have enough– money, time, food, insert physical item or intangible of choice– to share and their is no, or minimal emotional, physical, or psychological impact in providing another with the requested insert physical item or intangible of choice (i.e. money, a listening ear, etc..); yet you refuse to do so simple because….
Now, if in providing your time, money, etc.. to another it will cause emotional, physical, or psychological impact beyond what you have to spare or can bare, then it is not selfish but merely self preservation.
In understanding this rule, it became clear to me that the rule simply boils down to no one is going to look at for your best interest the way that you can. Further, while self-preservation is the SUPREME law of the land, it is one of the most difficult to accept. The notion of rule #4 requires you to sign on wholly to the idea that looking out for your interest can be done in an authentic and genuine manner; and recognizing everyone has limits, so taking action to prevent your limits from being crossed is not selfish but self-preservation.
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