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No religion seems to be spreading faster today than the religion of selfishness. It goes by many names, but most of them make little effort to hide the underlying philosophy of self-worship.

Call if self-actualisation, self-awareness, self-sufficiency, self-esteem, assertiveness training, or whatever... the basic message is that living your life for others is too much like hard work. It's more fun and less stress to be selfish.

The many gurus of selfishness are trained in convincing you that you can totally indulge yourself without any feelings of guilt. A sense of responsibility and consideration for others is attacked as an enemy of the almighty self.

In this age of instant self-gratification, where almost anything can be obtained with enough money and the touch of a button, very few think to consider the long-term repercussions of a world gone mad on selfishness. All that matters is that right now I can feel good!

Sadly, the movement is filling a genuine need. Too many people do the right thing for the wrong reason. They are good only because they fear what people will think if they did what they really wanted to do. But, by convincing these people that the pleasures of selfishness will more than compensate for what people think, the gurus have only added a new vice to the old one. As selfishness becomes more and more popular, it's actually becoming easier to be selfish for the same wrong reason (i.e. giving in to peer group pressure) that people used to have for being unselfish in the good old days.

In the sixties there were complaints that talk of love was superficial. The hip generation confused shallow emotions and fancy rhetoric with the long-term commitment that real love requires. But today love of any depth is under attack. "What's love go to do with it?" sings Tina Turner. "Give me money!" replies yet another pop idol.

Many poets and songwriters, the perennial prophets of love, seem to have exhausted their taste for love, and turned to a harsher message of hate and selfishness.

The obvious question (Where is all of this leading?) should cause us to ask deeper questions about our own response to the situation. Is our commitment to love strong enough to face an all-out spiritual war against it? Do we have something deeper than a toothy grin and hippy love beads to sustain us in a world that is sinking rapidly into spiritual darkness? Can we motivate others to join us before they too are sucked in by the dark vortex?

Time will tell.

(See also The Love of the Left)

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