A selfish virtue

Good news for all of those self- serving, self-centered, self-indul- gent, self-interested people out there.

The Ayn Rand Institute in Irvine, Calif. has declared selfishness as a virtue.

Yes a virtue: “an example or kind of moral excellence,” such as forgiveness, gentleness, kindness, patience, or strength.

This comes as wonderful news to me. Today, I can hoard my donation money, stop giving my time to worthy causes, and find the new meaning in life…

Wait… now what was that meaning was I supposed to find again? If life is about being selfish, then the meaning in life is to serve myself. While it probably ought to sound good, it really doesn’t seem like a cause worth chasing.

Peter Schwartz, chairman of the Ayn Rand Institute, has written a new book titled “The Virtue of Selfishness-Why Achieving Your Happiness Is Your Highest Moral Purpose.” According to a recent Ayn Rand press release, Schwartz shows “the destructiveness of self- sacrifice and the impossibility of peaceful cooperation among men under the code of altruism.”

Now I’m sure there’s some sort of logical explanation for these conclusions… Kind of like when I tell myself cheesecake is good for my diet because it’s dairy. Or when I convince myself that sitting on the beach during a lunch break counted as work because the time they’re conceived a column idea.

But honestly, how can anyone say altruism, the unselfish concern for the welfare of others, is detrimental to society?

I took a few ethics classes in college. (Yes, believe it or not, journalists are often required to take ethics courses.) We studied several systems of ethics, including atilitarianism and Christianity.one of them called selfishness a virtue, but most of them did declare unselfishness as a trait of morality.

I almost want to get a copy of this book to see what kind of sense it could make, but I fear being brainwashed into self-indulgence.

We as humans have this wonderful ability to rationalize our actions. But this time, I think someone may have gone too far. Sure, I can be selfish sometimes – maybe even a lot of times. I think we all can it’s a downfall of the human condition. But I think I’ll keep pairing selfishness with guilt and unselfishness with moral obli- gation and use my tricks of ration- ality for cheesecake and time at the beach.

“The entire population of the universe, with one trifling exception, is composed of others.” – John Andrews Holmes.