Call it self-centeredness. Call it egotism. Call it selfishness. Call it what you will, the need to put oneself before others is an insidious disease.
Yes, I believe it is a disease. Something that eats away at the very core of a human being just as consuming as a cancer.
There is no outward manifestation of what I'm calling a disease. At least nothing that shows on the selfish human. But the damage a selfish person does is more to oneself than it is to those around him, even if it doesn't leave a visible mark.
When every action is weighed as to what the benefit will be to oneself before taking that action, a precious commodity called generosity is lost.
In just one week, I was gifted with a pen and ink drawing, two cups of mocha, an Acapulco chicken salad and a cinnamon roll-just random acts of kindness, obviously by people not centered on themselves.
Generosity and consideration of others does not always come in a material form, of course. It might be accepting the least desirable job at work or around the house, letting the wife read the newspaper first, even being the one to install a fresh roll of toilet paper.
My mom was the one who taught me about generosity and selfishness. The first lesson was probably teaching me to never take the largest piece of my favorite cake. My younger brother learned it the hard way, losing an entire pack of lifesavers because he wouldn't give one to a playmate. To this day, he gets slightly hostile when anyone even says the word "lifesavers"...maybe because it's a word that comes into play whenever someone wants to get his goat.