The Politics of Self-Interest

It is time that we Americans begin to divine the difference between “enlightened self-interest” and “self-interested enlightenment.” The former demands that we use care in not allowing our self-interest to overwhelm our public duty as citizens. The latter gives us license to take all we can from the system, from the government, from our fellow man without a thought to the consequences.

When you refuse to serve the greater good by sacrificing some benefit to yourself, you take the first step down the pathway to becoming a reactionary. When you try to expunge self-interest in the name of enlightenment, you take the fist step down the pathway to becoming a radical.

The correct path is the middle route, the self-interest moderated by a developed sense of duty to the public good.

Now, which are we teaching our children?

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Author: David Wolf

An adviser to corporations and organizations on strategy, communications, and public affairs, David Wolf has been working and living in Beijing since 1995, and now divides his time between China and California. He also serves as a policy and industry analyst focused on innovative and creative industries, a futurist, and an amateur historian.

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