I was discussing inflation the other day with friends, and one insisted that selfishness was a significant factor causing prices to climb. She cited the example of people who delay paying their utility bills until the last minute so their money can earn more interest in the bank. This forces the utility company to borrow money to pay its bills. As a result, utilities may request higher electricity rates to make up for extra interest and other costs.
This reminded me of two young girls I knew who shared an apartment. In the summer they kept their air conditioning on full blast, wore sweaters, and slept under electric blankets at night. When I pointed out to them that this was a waste of electricity, they were amused. ''But we get it free!m '' they exclaimed. ''It comes with the rent!''
Landlords, however, must cover such unnecessary expenses by raising rents. If everyone indulged in extravagance or miserliness, prices would be higher than they are!
Economic experts have acknowledged that developing qualities of unselfishness in society would contribute to reducing inflation. But how can this be accomplished? Some people are unable to detect selfishness in themselves, even extravagance. Once they become accustomed to a certain life style, luxuries to them become necessities. Or, like the two young girls, they don't really think in terms of economy.
Obviously, it will be impossible to conquer societal selfishness until each one of us grows humbly willing to think more unselfishly. Christ Jesus has already shown us how, but we need to take his words to heart.
Centuries ago the Master gave mankind the universal and individual antidote for selfishness. It's called the Golden Rule. ''All things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets.'' n1
n1 Matthew 7:12
In order for us to obey the Golden Rule consistently, the underlying error that fosters selfishness needs to be eradicated. This error is the universal belief that matter is the source and substance of creation and therefore the source of our good. In other words, we hoard, or withhold generosity, because we're afraid that good is material and limited and that our supply will be depleted. This is the error behind such traits as envy and greed, and it points to the need for a better understanding of God, who eternally provides for His creation.
''A mortal, corporeal, or finite conception of God,'' writes Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, ''cannot embrace the glories of limitless, incorporeal Life and Love. Hence the unsatisfied human craving for something better, higher, holier, than is afforded by a material belief in a physical God and man.'' n2
n2 Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 25.
Better, higher, and holier things await each one of us as we earnestly seek a more spiritual concept of existence. Through our divinely given spiritual sense, we can begin to grasp the true nature of God as Spirit, the infinite source of all good. We can see that God's creation must truly be spiritual and perfect. Gradually, we'll see that we're the eternal recipients of the goodness God has bestowed upon His spiritual likeness, man. As we wake up to the glorious heritage we have as the children of God, we'll find that we include the ability to live an unselfish life, and that we can obey the Golden Rule instinctively. We'll happily discover ourselves thinking more in terms of universal abundance than individual lack.
Unselfing all of society will not be easy, and it may take a while. But you and I can do our part. And we can begin today. DAILY BIBLE VERSE Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. Mark 12:31