The Student Room Group

Nobody cares about 'changing' the world

We're selfish so we don't care about the rest of the world. I don't get what this way of saying means as most if not all people are selfish. 'Changing' the world implies an altruistic generosity that we don't have. I don't see why I should spend my energy and time just to help other people without getting anything as a reward

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Human altruism has been well documented going back even to palaeolithic times so I think it's a bit of a logical fallacy (not to mention a touch narcissistic) to assume that your own experience is universal in the face of that evidence to the contrary.
Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but If we all just expect something as a reward for any action we take in this world then we never will take any step forward as we'll be too inclined to always wanting a reward out of anything we ever do. That truly is not a life I would want to live.
Reply 3
Original post by RoadtoSuccess
Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but If we all just expect something as a reward for any action we take in this world then we never will take any step forward as we'll be too inclined to always wanting a reward out of anything we ever do. That truly is not a life I would want to live.

Do you care about Botswana? Lol
Reply 4
Original post by artful_lounger
Human altruism has been well documented going back even to palaeolithic times so I think it's a bit of a logical fallacy (not to mention a touch narcissistic) to assume that your own experience is universal in the face of that evidence to the contrary.

I'd say the opposite, human history proves most if not all of us are selfish. For example, we are from the largest empire in history and we enslaved and exploited millions of people for our own benefit. I don't see much altruism in the UK history lol
Original post by Kawasa
Do you care about Botswana? Lol

It's an entirely different argument to claim that more people don't actually care about people and things they haven't personally experienced. People are quite likely to care about others in their communities.
Reply 6
Original post by vapordave
It's an entirely different argument to claim that more people don't actually care about people and things they haven't personally experienced. People are quite likely to care about others in their communities.

Ah you mean in the same community, I was talking about the expression 'change the world' that in my opinion means nothing. Nobody really cares about the rest of the world so 'changing the world' is ridiculous
Original post by Kawasa
I'd say the opposite, human history proves most if not all of us are selfish. For example, we are from the largest empire in history and we enslaved and exploited millions of people for our own benefit. I don't see much altruism in the UK history lol

There are examples of the early human ancestors being cared for after major and potentially lethal injuries, even saving them from the initial injury even if treatment proved unsucessful; see here: https://www.sapiens.org/archaeology/ancient-surgery/

Also interestingly similar behaviour has been seen in Chimpanzees recently: https://www.sapiens.org/biology/chimpanzees-self-medication-wound/

Although altruistic behaviour (at least, altruistic through a human lens) has been observed widely in animals, and so it holds that it would also occur in humans anyway: for a basic survey see the wikipedia page https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Altruism_(biology)
Original post by Kawasa
Ah you mean in the same community, I was talking about the expression 'change the world' that in my opinion means nothing. Nobody really cares about the rest of the world so 'changing the world' is ridiculous

You might find this article interesting. I get where you're coming from, and I agree that no-one has the capacity to truly care about every problem and human being on this planet, but I don't think it's out of selfishness.
https://web.archive.org/web/20200108195437/http://mindingourway.com/on-caring/
The kind of positive, good-vibes thread that I visit TSR for. Goosebumps.
Original post by Kawasa
We're selfish so we don't care about the rest of the world. I don't get what this way of saying means as most if not all people are selfish. 'Changing' the world implies an altruistic generosity that we don't have. I don't see why I should spend my energy and time just to help other people without getting anything as a reward


Changing the world is a big thing for everyone. You expect too much by the people. Be happy, if they change something in their surrounding for better, even if it is just themselves.
(edited 6 months ago)
Reply 11
It doesn't necessarily imply altruism at all. It is perfectly congruous to want to change the world and get rich whilst doing so. 'Selfishness' doesn't much matter if, for example, somebody saves kids from heart disease for ego, or for a huge wage. It is still a net good, and it is still a net change.

If you take the phrase to the extreme then arguably it is lofty enough to be absurd (although again, I don't think this necessarily the case). But to change the world has contexts that can be small-scale. They need not be about affecting every issue to ever exist - such an notion would indeed be silly, as well as impossible.

Part of why I do my job is the admittedly 'selfish' reason of wanting to make a positive impact with my time and my life. Does it change things, in a small way. But that'll do me.

The only people this is an issue for is deontologists, who are already prone to taking everything to absurd lengths in order to make their points.

If you don't want to help anyone else then that's your choice.
Reply 12
Original post by gjd800
It doesn't necessarily imply altruism at all. It is perfectly congruous to want to change the world and get rich whilst doing so. 'Selfishness' doesn't much matter if, for example, somebody saves kids from heart disease for ego, or for a huge wage. It is still a net good, and it is still a net change.

If you take the phrase to the extreme then arguably it is lofty enough to be absurd (although again, I don't think this necessarily the case). But to change the world has contexts that can be small-scale. They need not be about affecting every issue to ever exist - such an notion would indeed be silly, as well as impossible.

Part of why I do my job is the admittedly 'selfish' reason of wanting to make a positive impact with my time and my life. Does it change things, in a small way. But that'll do me.

The only people this is an issue for is deontologists, who are already prone to taking everything to absurd lengths in order to make their points.

If you don't want to help anyone else then that's your choice.

Then you don't change the world, that's my point. 'Change the world ' is a way of saying that means nothing and is pointless. Even if you help others you do it in a small scale, you don't spend your life changing Botswana or Liberia.
Original post by Kawasa
Then you don't change the world, that's my point. 'Change the world ' is a way of saying that means nothing and is pointless. Even if you help others you do it in a small scale, you don't spend your life changing Botswana or Liberia.


So .. are you trying to say Botswanans/ Liberians are more selfish and don't want to change their country? I don't understand. Changing the world takes far more than thinking about doing it.
Reply 14
Original post by artful_lounger
There are examples of the early human ancestors being cared for after major and potentially lethal injuries, even saving them from the initial injury even if treatment proved unsucessful; see here: https://www.sapiens.org/archaeology/ancient-surgery/

Also interestingly similar behaviour has been seen in Chimpanzees recently: https://www.sapiens.org/biology/chimpanzees-self-medication-wound/

Although altruistic behaviour (at least, altruistic through a human lens) has been observed widely in animals, and so it holds that it would also occur in humans anyway: for a basic survey see the wikipedia page https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Altruism_(biology)

That's prehistoric men who were in the same tribe. That's not 'changing the world', it's people in the same tribe helping each other for a mutual gain, I help you if you help me. It's not a free help. The prehistoric tribes killed their rival tribes and even the homo sapiens has replaced other human species by stealing their land. Much like the UK did with our great empire, we enslaved and used millions of people.
Reply 15
Original post by blabla2020202
So .. are you trying to say Botswanans/ Liberians are more selfish and don't want to change their country? I don't understand. Changing the world takes far more than thinking about doing it.

I mean they might want to change their own country only for their own advantage. Do you care about Botswana?
Original post by Kawasa
Ah you mean in the same community, I was talking about the expression 'change the world' that in my opinion means nothing. Nobody really cares about the rest of the world so 'changing the world' is ridiculous


I haven't read the entire thread so someone else may have already made this point that I'm about to make, perhaps more eloquently as well.

But regardless, what about the people who leave their homes, their family/friends, their (relatively safe) countries, so that they can do good in less-developed parts of the world? What about the people who regularly donate to charitable causes with the sole intention of benefitting those less fortunate than themselves? What about the people who try to call out and stand up against injustices, even those that don't directly affect them or their loved ones?

Yes, many people are quite self-absorbed and unaware of/unconcerned about the plights of those living in the rest of the world, but there are also many people who do care, who do the right thing and try their best to help, with no expectancy of reward. It would be completely unfair to assume that everyone is solely focussed on themselves and their lives because that's really not the case. Even people who speak up and try to fight back against prejudices for their own sake end up benefitting others too, because these things often have a snowball effect for something greater than themselves. Humanity can be cruel and selfish, but it can also be incredibly beautiful and heart-warming sometimes too - it's all about your perspective to be honest.

As for actually changing the world...I don't believe any one individual has the power to change everything wrong with this world because we still have many, many issues to resolve, just in the West alone. But I do believe that if we were all on the same page and worked together we could actually make a significant difference. Having said that, there have been movements in history that have made amazing positive impacts, often sparked by a single individual or group. Whilst these impacts may not reach or benefit every part of the world, they still make a difference and pave the way for further positive changes. And honestly? If someone can help change the circumstances of even one person for the better - whether that be someone they already know from their hometown or a complete stranger in the Middle East - then that's a brilliant thing and we should encourage more of this type of action, rather than looking at it from such a cynical point of view.

You're absolutely entitled to your own opinion and I can't force you to change it, but I invite you to read all the responses on this thread with an open-mind and reflect on them, because I'm certain that if you do you'll soon realise life is much more fulfilling when you care about people other than yourself. I would also like to challenge you to try do one nice thing for a stranger every day for the next week or so, even if it's something small like holding open a door, smiling at someone, giving a genuine compliment, etc. You won't be changing the world, but you could end up changing someone's day - and as an added bonus, you'll feel good yourself too!


Also here are some examples of people who have left (varying) impacts on the world (in no particular order):
- Nelson Mandela
- Martin Luther King
- Princess Diana
- Malcolm X
- Jesus
- Malala Yousafzai
- Rosa Parks
- Mother Teresa
- Muhammad Ali
- Mary Seacole

If you haven't heard of any of the above or know what they did, I strongly recommend you read up on them. This list doesn't even include the likes of those who left a mark on the world in terms of the scientific and engineering accomplishments, etc - such as Alexander Fleming, Thomas Edison, the Wright Brothers, Steve Jobs, and so many more. They're pretty fascinating too!
Original post by Kawasa
That's prehistoric men who were in the same tribe. That's not 'changing the world', it's people in the same tribe helping each other for a mutual gain, I help you if you help me. It's not a free help. The prehistoric tribes killed their rival tribes and even the homo sapiens has replaced other human species by stealing their land. Much like the UK did with our great empire, we enslaved and used millions of people.


My point was about altruism and that there are people woh have demonstrated altruism since the earliest days of human civilisation. It's an absurd claim that there exists no altruism, and it also doesn't follow that all altruism must be world changing. Plenty of altruistic acts are small acts of kindness to others. That doesn't change the fact they are altruistic.
Reply 18
Original post by spill_the_tea
I haven't read the entire thread so someone else may have already made this point that I'm about to make, perhaps more eloquently as well.

But regardless, what about the people who leave their homes, their family/friends, their (relatively safe) countries, so that they can do good in less-developed parts of the world? What about the people who regularly donate to charitable causes with the sole intention of benefitting those less fortunate than themselves? What about the people who try to call out and stand up against injustices, even those that don't directly affect them or their loved ones?

Yes, many people are quite self-absorbed and unaware of/unconcerned about the plights of those living in the rest of the world, but there are also many people who do care, who do the right thing and try their best to help, with no expectancy of reward. It would be completely unfair to assume that everyone is solely focussed on themselves and their lives because that's really not the case. Even people who speak up and try to fight back against prejudices for their own sake end up benefitting others too, because these things often have a snowball effect for something greater than themselves. Humanity can be cruel and selfish, but it can also be incredibly beautiful and heart-warming sometimes too - it's all about your perspective to be honest.

As for actually changing the world...I don't believe any one individual has the power to change everything wrong with this world because we still have many, many issues to resolve, just in the West alone. But I do believe that if we were all on the same page and worked together we could actually make a significant difference. Having said that, there have been movements in history that have made amazing positive impacts, often sparked by a single individual or group. Whilst these impacts may not reach or benefit every part of the world, they still make a difference and pave the way for further positive changes. And honestly? If someone can help change the circumstances of even one person for the better - whether that be someone they already know from their hometown or a complete stranger in the Middle East - then that's a brilliant thing and we should encourage more of this type of action, rather than looking at it from such a cynical point of view.

You're absolutely entitled to your own opinion and I can't force you to change it, but I invite you to read all the responses on this thread with an open-mind and reflect on them, because I'm certain that if you do you'll soon realise life is much more fulfilling when you care about people other than yourself. I would also like to challenge you to try do one nice thing for a stranger every day for the next week or so, even if it's something small like holding open a door, smiling at someone, giving a genuine compliment, etc. You won't be changing the world, but you could end up changing someone's day - and as an added bonus, you'll feel good yourself too!


Also here are some examples of people who have left (varying) impacts on the world (in no particular order):
- Nelson Mandela
- Martin Luther King
- Princess Diana
- Malcolm X
- Jesus
- Malala Yousafzai
- Rosa Parks
- Mother Teresa
- Muhammad Ali
- Mary Seacole

If you haven't heard of any of the above or know what they did, I strongly recommend you read up on them. This list doesn't even include the likes of those who left a mark on the world in terms of the scientific and engineering accomplishments, etc - such as Alexander Fleming, Thomas Edison, the Wright Brothers, Steve Jobs, and so many more. They're pretty fascinating too!

Most of them were not interested in 'changing the world'. And I don't see why they should be. I'll start with the last one, Steve Jobs, if you read something about him you read he was an arrogant and evil man whose only interest was his personal success and money. He wasn't good at all. His aim was his own interest, so he might have 'changed the world' only as a side point but he didn't care about that. Even the computer you are using exists only because Bill Gates wanted to make lots of money by inventing Windows, he didn't care about 'changing the world'. Most of the things around us exist only because of the profit, without profit as motivation most things wouldn't exist.
Given his level of philanthropy, Bill Gates is about the worst possible example you could settle on as an example of selfishness. Unless you take issue with him buying a Porsche 959 in the 80's.

Honestly this all just reads like "I'm selfish and can't envisage that everyone else isn't that way too".

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