Selfish or Selfless?

By Alicia Chen

There’s a saying that states that there is a fine line between love and hate and I feel that there is an even finer line between selflessness and selfishness. An act of kindness could actually be done for selfish gain. Don’t believe me? Think about all of those times that you’ve done something nice for someone else, or for your community. Was it actually out of the goodness of your heart? Or was someone watching you? Did you do that action for the benefit of others, or for the benefit of looking good to others. We’ve all been there, and I know without a doubt, that most people on this planet have acted selfishly before. Maybe you never knew that you were being selfish, but even the people that seem the most selfless on the surface have acted in selfish ways before.

In elementary school, we’d always have canned food drives where we would bring canned vegetables or soups into our classrooms. There was always an incentive for people to donate. One year it was extra recess time, and another it was a pizza party, which every kid wants, but the prize was only awarded to the class that donated the most canned vegetables. At that time, I only thought about the prize when I donated. I would have never brought anything in to donate if there hadn’t been a prize. I remember dumping my bag of canned soup into the bin designated to my 3rd grade class with nothing but eating pizza on my mind.

Another time, in sixth grade, when community service actually mattered to me, I went to a community service event, outside of school, that helped pack up pet food for animal shelters. While I was there, I heard someone ask another person which animal shelter the food was being donated to. The response they received was “I don’t know, I’m here for the hours.” That made me wonder how many people around me that were scooping pet food into bags actually cared. There are many cases where people may need to have community service hours. For example, filling out applications, to graduate, and to just look like a more helpful and caring person overall. You know, to make people think that you’re this really nice person that cares deeply about helping people out, when you’re really only helping for your own good, like getting more hours for your application. You could be the most caring person on paper, but be heartless in actuality.

I know that requiring community service or putting an incentive on it seems like it’s helping the community on the surface because there are more hands helping out the community, and contributing to making it a better place, but when you dig deeper, you’ll find that there are always some people that don’t care about the cause, and don’t care about helping out. For this reason, I believe that to change the community for the better, we first need to change the people in the community into more caring human beings.

Alicia Chen

Alicia is currently a freshman, graduating in 2024. Her favorite book is One of Us Is Lying, and she enjoys writing informational pieces that provide differing opinions on various topics. She likes to interview other students and feature their opinions and experiences in her writing as well.