How many of you have heard the phrase: “You have to love yourself before you can love anyone else”? The idea is that if you love yourself, it will naturally lead to caring about others, and not caring about yourself denies you the ability to have meaningful relationships.
But wait, what about bankers? What about bible-thumping bigots? What about mass-murderers and dictators? What about lobbyists and corrupt police and senators and congressmen and gangs? What about rapists? What about hollywood executives?
These are not self-loathing people. Psychopaths have high self-esteem. They love everything about themselves and continue to make the world worse because that initial self-love never spread out. Why wouldn’t they? They want everything for themselves because they see themselves as more important and more deserving. Hating yourself is not necessarily always what makes you hate others, so why would loving yourself be the only entryway to loving others?
You do not need to love yourself to love others. That’s bullshit. I hate pretty much everything about myself, and I cared about people. Certain people, at least. I was a humanist for most of my life, and my own self-loathing didn’t stop that. Even years after I should have stopped having any personal investment in the human race. Long after I should have given up on the species, I was still hoping and caring.
If I still care about anyone, it’s not because I had some epiphany or some moment of self-acceptance. It’s because I’m not a psychopath, and love is not selfish!
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