To the People

The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or TO THE PEOPLE.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Me, My Selfishness, And I

I'm going to need some comment-block lovin' for this post. Can anyone think of an English word that means looking out for yourself first and foremost, but does not imply someone else "losing"?

I'm not typically one for nit picky linguistics, but this particularly bothers me. Self-interest, along with respect for the civil rights of others, is quite possibly the primary disposition* one can have in a free society. Yet there's no word for it:

Selfishness is the most obvious choice for looking out for oneself. But if you call someone selfish, can you think of any situation in which this is taken as a compliment? Capitalism might imply looking out for yourself while not violating anyone's rights, but it's not understood this way. And I can see why, observing the current government-guided mixed economy some erroneously call capitalism.

Conversely, selfless is generally accepted as a compliment. I'm not saying that helping others is no good, but the term commonly used for it implies self-sacrifice. And that sucks.

Life isn't sports, so who says there has to be a loser for every winner?

* For lack of a better word