On Opportunism and Altruism…

I am an opportunist. And I am not ashamed of it. Opportunism can be found in the dictionary as the taking of opportunities as and when they arise, regardless of planning or principle, and that is exactly what I do. I have been accused of mis-and abusing people, things and situations, but all I really do is taking opportunities.

Yes, I am manipulative, and yes, I am not far from a pathological liar when it comes to my personal relationships. That last thing is something I’m far less proud of, but it’s rather unavoidable in the type of relationships I keep up with.

But that is not what I wanted to speak about in this blog. The ideal in our society to live by is most likely altruism. Despite all realistic assessments of our world people still hang on to the idea that one should help others for no other reason than “being a good person”. Nothing wrong with that, really, but here I want to start a plea for opportunism.

Altruism is in essence just as based on fulfilling one’s own needs as opportunism, only opportunists are less haughty about it. Let’s face it, no human being does something because there is no good reason. Wether you do something for money, affection or spiritual fulfillment doesn’t matter; in the end it’s all personal gain you’re after.

Altruists look for the “good” in people; that is what I have been told. They help someone because they see something “good” in that person. But “good” is relative as a concept… To see something good in someone else requires you to have a certain standard of what is good and what not. And who are you to determine that?

I like to know why someone is acting in a certain way against me. I like to know what their behavior is based on. Call me mistrusting and paranoid; you’re not far from the truth with that. But the fact remains that I don’t like it when I don’t know why people treat me in a certain manner, no matter if this manner is good or bad for me. I can only guess that other people as well feel a little insecure and unprotected when dealing with others in such a seemingly random way.

Opportunism doesn’t need high standards. It makes use of an entirely different concept than the ethical “good” and “bad”. It’s main drive is “use”. Opportunists don’t look for the good in someone, they look for the useful. And the fun thing is, in a way people are just like books. About books Pliny the Elder used to say “no book is so bad but some use might be got out of it.” I believe in that statement, both concerning books and people. Opportunistic relationships are honest, at least they are to me. You deal with someone for a reason, and this someone deals with you for a reason as well. The state and hierarchy of your relationship is completely clear. It’s business-like. I can relate to that.

And before you mention it, yes, that leaves open the opportunity for others to “misuse” you as well. The only thing you need to do is be aware of that and stop considering it a bad thing. Is it misusing when someone deals with you simply for one or a few clear reasons? Those reasons don’t have to be bad for you!

Think of it as commensalism, a term form biology meaning one organism lives off another, without necessarily causing that other organism any harm.

All in all, I think altruists are courageous. But I’m a bit of a control freak, so I rather stick to the business approach of opportunism.

About quantumphysica

My name is QuantumPhysica The Insane, but you can call me QP. I am insane, admitted to a mental hospital in Belgium, and waiting for a decent diagnosis at the moment. Once I was a physics student with goals in life and what more; now I'm simply the patient of Room 93. Ever wondered what life is like in the psychiatric ward? I'll tell you everything you ever wanted to know... I am... particularly twitchy of personality. But I also am genuinely interested in everything. There is nothing that doesn't interest me, really. Everything, from quantum computers to fashion and cars to traveling... I also give advice. On anything. No taboos whatsoever. And I make lists of things...
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8 Responses to On Opportunism and Altruism…

  1. deviantdiaries says:

    I’m probably more of an opportunist than altruist as well now that you put it that way. Or as my parents like to say “self-absorbed”. I say “looking out for number one because that’s called survival”. I try to do no harm in the process though….

    • Indeed, that’s called survival. Survival of the fittest is in fact survival of the individual that adapts the quickest. And to adapt quickly, one has to be able to make use of the situation.
      Self-absorbed, thats another one I got thrown to my head a lot..

  2. Everything in balance. Give and take. Share and receive. It all settles evenly eventually.

    • That’s what I mean…
      People expect of altruists that they give without asking in return, that they give simply to give…
      But no one does that, everyone wants something in return. I just think opportunism is more honest on that account.

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