Lesson 112: Selflessness vs. selfishness
TV Series: Star Trek - The Next Generation
Season/Episode: 2/1 ('The Child')


Wesley Crusher has to leave the Enterprise to join Starfleet Academy as a cadet. He doesn't want to leave the Enterprise, but he does it because it is what he is expected to do.

When discussing his decision with Guinan, the ship's wise alien bartender, Wesley says he believes that sometimes you have to do what others want you to do and not be selfish.

Guinan replies that it is, at times, more difficult to decide when it is better to be selfish and think about your self instead of thinking of others.


For those who believe it is better to always receive than to give, the idea of being selfish in making decisions is not a difficult concept to practice.

However, for those with a conscience about their fellow man, whether he is a stranger or familiar to them, there is always a driving impulse to do things that will be of benefit to others more than for themselves.

For these kind and very empathic people, there is the risk of not knowing when to draw the line between benevolence and self-victimization.

It is an unfortunate reality of our times, and perhaps of our species in general, that there are always unscrupulous people looking to exploit the good and the kind amongst us.

Pouring out words and expressions that support the goals and beliefs of the audience present, these villains seek to manipulate the emotions of others to benefit their own selfish purposes. After all, is this not the modus operandi of almost every politician?

Selflessness is a wonderful human trait, but it must always be on guard to not fall prey to the sometimes selfishness of others.

In the case of the young malleable mind of Wesley Crusher however, the pressure he feels to enter the academy, from his mother, the Captain and other crew members of the Enterprise, has no underlying tones of meanness or harm intended towards Wesley. This makes the decision more difficult.

When it comes to career and life choices, the final decision must satisfy a self-need more than the needs of others.

By moving our careers and lives in a direction based on the desires of others and not our own can often lead to dissatisfaction and even ill-feelings towards the others whom we were trying to please in the first place with our decision.

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