Mental health experts often talk about “the types of people in this world.” They have many classifications of people, such as: narcissist, passive aggressor, the anti-social, etc. But I’m thinking that maybe we keep forgetting about the two main types: the “me’s” and the “we’s.”
The world is in a great state of flux right now. We’re facing an unseen enemy and people are frightened because it can appear that we have more questions than answers right now — more unknowns than knowns. Its perfectly normal to be scared and perfectly normal for our emotions to run the gamut — fear, anger, sadness and hope. Some people though, are letting their fear get the better of them.
As government and scientific leaders try to manage the effects of the pandemic, we see progress being made, even if its only small wins. While scientists and medical experts try to find a treatment and a vaccine, they’ve proposed very sensible measures we should all take: wear a mask in public, social distance as much as possible, wash your hands regularly, avoid touching your face and avoid larger gatherings. All things considered, this isn’t really much to ask, is it? As we observe Memorial Day, we should look at the sacrifices our fallen heroes made: they fought in violent wars and died on the battlefield, far from home. We should look at our elders and think about all the tough times they’ve lived through. We should look at the world around us and acknowledge that millions upon millions of people go to bed hungry every night. Children all across the world suffer — they don’t have clothes, clean water, a safe home and for them, daily life is a constant struggle. Yet all we’re being asked to do right now, is to adhere to some practical, simple, logical and non-invasive measures.
“Foolish, selfish people are always thinking of themselves and the result is always negative. Wise persons think of others, helping them as much as they can, and the result is happiness. Love and compassion are beneficial both for you and others. Through your kindness to others, your mind and heart will open to peace.” – Dalai Lama
The Me vs. We people
The Me People:
For what ever reason, there are those in our world that cannot follow the simple guidelines set out by experts. They refuse to social distance. They continue to gather in crowds and they violently refuse to wear a mask. They become incensed at the suggestion they should follow these guidelines, declaring that it is their right to not follow them — “this is a case of government overreach and I have my rights and its my right to not wear a mask and no one is going to tell me where I can and cannot go!” These are the “me!” people of our world. They see everything from their perspective only and they could not care less if they endanger the lives of others.
When someone says, “You are being selfish,” there is no doubt that you have just been criticized. The message from your critic is clear: You are paying too much attention to your own wants, needs, and well-being, and not enough attention to others. Selfish behavior is often described as immoral. A good person thinks of others first. This idea is instantiated in the oft-quoted “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35) and “Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country,” (JFK’s 1961 inaugural address).
According to some experts, selfish behavior is not only immoral, but it is also bad for your own psychological well-being. Renowned positive psychologist Sonja Lyubomirsky has written an essay claiming that research supports the Chinese proverb that ends, “If you want happiness for a lifetime, help someone else.” – John A. Johnson Ph.D. in Psychology Today
The “me” people of this world usually show their true colors when things get tough and they’re doing it again right now. These are the people who think only of themselves and they put their own selfish needs ahead of everyone else. The “me’s” of this world also fall into two categories: those who don’t see their own malevolent selfishness and say they’re “a good person” and falsely believe they are, even though their actions clearly say otherwise. And, those that know they’re selfish and make no pretense otherwise — they’re narcissists and proud of it. Personally, I don’t know which of the two I like less.
The “We” People:
The other type of people in our world are the givers and sharer’s. They’re the ones who, while inconvenienced and unhappy about the sacrifices they must make, do so anyway. They see the world not as a place of evil that we must conquer or defend against, but one of give-and-take — there is good and bad and we need to maximize the good and neutralize the bad. The “we’s” of our world see people more as equal and realize that we’re all just trying to get by. As it relates to the pandemic, the “we’s” of the world want to be safe and rightfully realize that the best way to do that, is for everyone to follow the few, simple guidelines: wear a mask in public, social distance as much as possible, wash your hands regularly, avoid touching your face and avoid larger gatherings. The “we’s” realize that its not too much to ask, its most likely only a temporary inconvenience and at the end of the day, if we all follow these guidelines, things will go back to normal much sooner and with more success.
The news right now is covering a lot of stories about people who are violently protesting stay-at-home and mask orders. We see them yelling, defying, menacing and threatening. Why? Is it paranoia? Do they really think that wearing a mask is violating their rights? How is avoiding large gatherings in the short-term, in any way an attack on our liberties? Its not some new forever law…its just something we all need to do during this uncertain time.
The “me” and “we” people of our world aren’t new. Sadly though, the “me’s” tend to emerge like locusts when there’s a wide-spread threat — perhaps they falsely believe it’s “every man for himself?” The “me’s” of this world are a very serious threat to peace, prosperity and happiness. They are the ones who will never be there for you. They don’t see the earth and the life that lives here as something of beauty, but more as a threat to their selfish needs and wants. On the other side of the coin, the “we’s” of our world, while not perfect, at least make the effort to share, care and try…they sacrifice for the greater good.
“Generally speaking, the most miserable people I know are those who are obsessed with themselves; the happiest people I know are those who lose themselves in the service of others…By and large, I have come to see that if we complain about life, it is because we are thinking only of ourselves.” – Gordon B. Hinckley
I hope and pray this crisis will soon pass. I will admit that this global emergency has brought out both the worst in people and the best in people. The people who have shown their true nature to be one of selfishness and self-indulgence, have worried me greatly. How will we face the next challenge if so many people only care about themselves? But what has given me hope are the “we’s” of this world, because they have proven to be the ones carrying the whole load — the givers, the doers, the creators, the sharers… its the people who care about “we” rather than just “me” that will help to sustain this world. Lets work together to raise up the caring and the kind among us, so that we may negate the evil of the takers and destroyers of our world.
Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. – Galatians 6:2
And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased. – Hebrews 13:16