Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Rambling thoughts on self-centeredness

Today as I left home on my walk, I had to step over a gift left right in my driveway by the dog of someone else. This started my mind on some rambling thoughts as I walked and contemplated that either this "gift" had been left by a dog not properly restrained by its owner, or by the owner walking the dog and not giving a single thought to the fact that it was my property being used as a waste disposal area. Either way, that dog owner was only thinking of himself.

I have the same issue with cats roaming wild around the neighborhood.  I am not an animal hater, but I choose not to have cats in my backyard because I love my flower beds and I love the birds and butterflies that come with the flowers.  But wandering cats insist on rolling in my flower beds, and acting as predators for the birds and butterflies, discouraging them from coming.  Those cat owners are not giving my choices a second thought.

I am not saying we are always self-conscious of our self-centeredness.  Someone else had to point out to me that when I empty a grocery cart and leave it between the cars in the parking lot because I am too lazy and thoughtless to return it to the cart coral or the store, I am giving hardly a thought to the poor people trying to park after me, and that is self-centered.  Now that I see it, I try not to do it.  But our hearts, as Calvin put it (the theologian, not the cartoon) are idol factories, and our biggest idol is us.

From the small to the large, I see this problem.  We don't think in terms of other-centeredness in art (art for its own sake) or music (I know what I like, so there can be no discussion of objective quality) or service to others (What can I do to make myself feel good about what I have done for others? Where can I send my money to relieve my guilt?).  But those are topics for another blog post. 

Let me end with this.  What are areas where you were unintentionally self-centered until someone else pointed them out to you?  I would love to learn to be more other-centered from you, Gentle Reader.

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