“As we grow older, it becomes apparent that to defer constantly to others and seek their approval is not the most efficient way to get ahead. Yet, most of us continue with this ineffective behavior. Sometimes, we experiment with selfishness but usually discover that it produces bad feelings within us as a result of our early conditioning. “Nice” people aren’t supposed to be selfish too often. Even though we know that success in our endeavors requires a certain measure of self-centeredness, we continue to be nice. The only reward for this is our self-righteousness about our great “virtue.”
So it is with many of the other “selfless” virtues. But this is, in fact, pretentious and covert behavior. Often we disguise our concern for ourselves as concern for others, and we continue to purchase the approval of others by giving up our right to get our own way. We often allow others to treat us unfairly because we do not want to confront or challenge them, nor do we wish to disturb our deeply ingrained notions of right and wrong. Instead, we comfort ourselves with feelings of moral superiority. We tell ourselves that we are above engaging in conflict over unimportant trifles. But despite what we think, we turn the other cheek; not because it is right, but because it is easy.”
Chin-Ning Chu, in “Thick Face, Black Heart”
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