‘Me First’ mentality is a sign of the times, now more than ever – Published “Faith Matters” in AZCentral

‘Me First’ mentality is a sign of the times, now more than ever

The tendency to think ‘only’ of oneself has been a sign of the times, or so it is said. And this seems to be the case even more so now than ever. Many people attribute the even more noticeable change now to difficult times or perhaps the Covid-19 pandemic that supposedly changed many people and their attitudes. Whether it be in busy traffic, or getting ahead in a long line, or perhaps in a situation that involves financial or personal gain, people say ‘Me First.’

It seems that this ‘Me First’ angle pervades all aspects of life. At a personal level, it creates a feeling of entitlement and a feeling of being more deserving than others. On a social level, it creates classism or prejudice where certain groups of people feel that they are better than others. On a political level, it engenders divisiveness – where one set of ideas or policies are seen as better for everyone without consideration to the other point of view for the sake of compromise or the minimization of conflict. On a religious level, it creates dogma where the chosen ones see others as misguided.

I am also a realist and my religious faith has shaped my outlook to value the Golden Rule to work through these challenges. I am the first to say that the world is not Utopia and its inhabitants are not automatons. Competition drives this world but so does greed and malice. The quest for limited resources is very real. And most people are wired to put themselves first. This is very much in sync with nature, as the hungry lion seeks to eat its prey without remorse … but also without greed or malice.

So where do we go from here? What makes us different as human beings? What should we do to make our world a better place? And should we even do that?

We should definitely do it since we owe it to our posterity … to make this world better, safer, kinder, and more socially, politically, economically and environmentally sustainable … this is the only way that the world will continue … and the desire to do so is what should make us different as human beings.

So that brings us to, where should we go from here?

‘Treat others how you would like to be treated.’ Or, from my Muslim faith, ‘No one of you is a believer until you desire for another that which you desire for yourself.’ Some call it the Golden Rule which is pervasive in all faiths and all people spiritual or otherwise who may adhere to different philosophies, to include common sense. If we take a minute to think about the person on the other side, what if we were them? So next time you are in traffic … let the other person in … for next time that person may be you.

Asad Shahid, Muslim representative on the Interfaith Council and VP of Experience Interfaith, Arizona Interfaith Movement

PART OF THE USA TODAY NETWORK Copyright © 2023 The Arizona Republic 2/22/2023