We’ve bandied about the word selfish quite a lot recently.

Do we have the right to call anyone selfish?

When we say the word selfish, what do we mean? Of course I went to New Oxford American Dictionary for an actual definition:

(of a person, action or motive) lacking consideration for others; concerned chiefly with one’s own personal profit or pleasure

Is it wrong to tell someone that they shouldn’t look our for themselves first?

Realistically, is it better to be selfless? (New Oxford American- concerned more with the needs of others than one’s own)

A few years ago my neighbor sent me a letter saying that she did not like the scented candles I would burn at the the end of the day when I was chilling before making dinner. In this specific scenario, who is right? Should I be selfish and light the candles because it was good for my peace of mind? Should I not use them so I can be a better neighbor?

Should I be selfish or selfless? Why?

Ok- take a minute and argue that one out…

When my daughter needed to choose a High School (high school choice in NYC- which after reading about some disastrous ELA programs, I’m selfishly happy that she had) was she supposed to choose a school that was best for her, knowing that if she got in, someone else wouldn’t? Or was she supposed to choose a school that was inconvenient and not inclined towards her academic interests?

In everyday parlance, what does selfish really mean?

What is the line between self advocation and putting others first?

My friend’s Mom felt bad because she got an appointment for the vaccine before her friend did. In this case, she was over 75 and clearly entitled to the vaccine. Why should someone feel bad because in this particular instance they got lucky? Was she selfish to get the vaccine before someone else?

What about survivor guilt? How many people feel bad because they didn’t die but others did?

I have to admit, much of what I do on a daily basis could be considered selfish in the right circumstance. I live in a home with heat and air, hot and cold running water that I presume to be potable, have a building maintenance person to take care of apartment issues. Pre COIVD I had a biweekly cleaning person to clean the bathroom and the kitchen because it’s easier on my knees if I don’t do that. Should I use less of these resources because others don’t have access to them? Should I take someone in off the street to shelter them?

I have volunteered in the public school system so that my daughter would benefit. I mean, obviously, my securing grants helped everyone, but my motivation was clear: do what I could to help my kid. Is that selfish?

We can think about public policy. Is it selfish to want your tax dollars to go to something you support, even though someone else might not support it?

If someone is anti-vax, are they selfish to not get inoculated?

Are smokers selfish because they pollute the air?

Do we have the right to tell anyone what they can and can not do with their body, their time, their money and their life?

What is your definition of selfish?

What do you consider a selfish act?

Pretend you’re a high school debater and argue both sides of the argument:

X is selfish because they _____________

X is not selfish because they ____________

The guy that tried to pickpocket me- was I selfish to not want him to take my wallet? Or should I selflessly have given him my cash because he obviously needed it more than me?