GREED | The Game of Love: Selfish or Selfless?

“I love you, Dominique. As selfishly as the fact that I exist. As selfishly as my lungs breathe air. I breathe for my own necessity, for the fuel of my body, for my survival. I’ve given you, not my sacrifice or my pity, but my ego and my naked need. This is the only way I can want you to love me.”

Ayn Rand. The Fountain Head.

          Love, in my regard, is a game whose comparison is most closely related to a “House of mirrors”, where you will attempt to find in others the reflection of yourself, of your values and virtues. In short, you will strive to find the reflection of yourself that appeals to you the most. I argue that we can find traces of our personalities identified with every individual that we encounter, since human nature is one, and one alone. However, as the objectivist philosopher, Ayn Rand argues, men are born with free will. Altruistic love, selfless love, is based on the idea that we must love everyone in our surrounding, and that in the name of such love, one must sacrifice, one must work and suffer to satisfy the pleasures and whims of the person subject of your love. I disagree.

“To say ‘I love you’, one must learn to say ‘I’ first.”.

-Ayn Rand. Atlas Shrugged.

          I can only speak for myself, as I am the person I know the best. Call me a narcissist, for having a high regard of myself, but I believe that a man should be, and is by nature, entitled to self-esteem. In fact, it is true that human beings are lonely beings. So, question: How do we find companionship amongst an existentially lonely humankind? I argue that it should be done selfishly. Ayn rand suggests, Love should be handled as a business deal, in which the currency are a human being’s values. It is only after spending time analyzing ourselves, and raising awareness of our own values and virtues, that we can then discriminate from humankind those individuals whose value system, mirror our own. I, for example, could never love an altruist. In fact, I tried, but I couldn’t find myself identified with the individual. Phrases such as “You are my happiness”, or “Baby, I just want to please and serve you.” do not mirror my value system, for I am individualistic, not altruistic.

In the painting “The swing” made by the Rococo french painter Jean-Honoré Fragonard (1767) clearly see two men competing for the attention of the woman on the swing. I would argue that the man swinging the woman is an altruist while the man on the floor is individualistic, for he chooses to flirt with the woman disregarding the efforts of the other man to seduce her. The woman on the other hand is also individualistic, for she does not mind receiving the benefit of the company and the efforts (the swinging) of the altruist man, while seducing and gaining the attention of the man of her choosing; a selfish, individualistic man: A man of self-esteem.

“To love is to value. Only a rationally selfish man, a man of self-esteem, is capable of love—because he is the only man capable of holding firm, consistent, uncompromising, unbetrayed values. The man who does not value himself, cannot value anything or anyone.”

– Ayn Rand. Atlas Shrugged.

          I do not believe in altruistic love; Simply because, I take selfish pleasure in loving, and caring for the person of my choosing. Compared to a child and his favorite toy. In respects to love, however, I believe that our only mutual benefit from the other person we choose to love, should only be their companion. “I’ve given you, not my sacrifice or my pity, but my ego and my naked need.” The person of your choosing should not be neither “your savior” or “your charity project” nor “Your only door towards happiness”; as it implies that you are yet to develop self-actualization, and self awareness of your own values.

 “It is an act that forces them to stand naked in spirit, as well as in body, and accept their real ego as their standard of value. They will always be attracted to the person who reflects their deepest vision of themselves, the person whose surrender permits them to experience a sense of self-esteem. Love is our response to our highest values – and can be nothing else.”

-Ayn Rand. Atlas Shrugged.

           For one, they should be that one individual whose possession grants you a sense of self-esteem, a sense of achievement, a well-earned price. And lastly, the person of your choosing should be that one individual to whom you have willingly exposed your fears, your failures; in short, your soul. These two individuals, will then find themselves in complete and utter intimacy, for when sexuality comes about, they will lay in a both physical and metaphysical nakedness.

“Adam and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame.”

– Genesis 2:25

As Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, they will not hold shame in their physical nakedness, for they are mirrors, reflections of each other’s metaphysical reality, of each other’s virtues, of each other’s souls. For your own heart’s protection, for your own well being, and to guarantee your success in the game of love, in the “house of mirrors”, being selfish, individualistic, in short, being greedy is a must.

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