Can you think of a time when you maybe did something for yourself, and it ended up harming another in the guise of self-preservation?
Have you ever really cogitated on how you have been affected by people’s decisions?
Those who harm others by seeking out to meet their own ends are demonstrating self preservation.
In many different ways, the egotistic men and women of the society have changed the world.
Monarchs have made decisions that plunged nations into poverty and war.
Irresponsible leaders have risked lives of fellow countrymen, and unprincipled people have betrayed friends and family, just to save their own lives.
Trying to explain the rationale behind such actions can be a Sisyphean task.
Some actions such as slavery, apartheid, torture, murder, war, genocide come to mind when enumerating some of the horrible things people have done to others in the past.
What makes it baffling is the fact that the progenitors of these atrocities engaged in these acts simply because they can.
Slavery and genocide of all things make the perpetrators of the crime feel good because they are more powerful than the opposing side.
The power makes them feel good which further alludes to a greater desire for self-preservation.
Did they care about the lives they took, the others they ruined, the opportunities wasted? No.
This was all because they had a presumed higher sense of self than of others.
That is what makes it evil — the thought that they are better than all others.
Many of the world leaders (past and present) have made decisions based on their personal opinions and not those of the people.
In their pursuit, many have been made miserable; wives have been married for the sole purpose of an heir, and young boys have been punished for minor infractions.
In the midst of all this, the leader was using people for his own ends.
It all succeeded because the citizens had been scared to stand up to the higher-ups and do what is right.
Instead, the people would rather wish suffering on others then suffering themselves.
Ergo, the evil of self-preservation is not in this case, the leaders, but instead the ordinary man.
During the Spanish Inquisition, many were captured, tortured, and threatened during questioning.
Some gave false information to save their own lives and instead inflicted it upon others.
The same torture was inflicted on others and they broke and gave false information.
This is another evil of self-preservation.
Sometimes, in the midst of our mere mortal existence, we come upon people.
Those who are so principled that they would rather suffer themselves than wish it on another.
That is what makes this few great.
In the end, the way our societies can forge ahead is for everyone to use self-preservation effectively and channel it into something that is good.