Why were we so selfish

First me, then me, then me again - Are we really all becoming more and more selfish?

While some lament the elbow society and others lament the great ego of the nation, our author is certain: It is not that bad for humanity. And she has found an expert who completely agrees with her. Good luck!

A family celebration, lots of people, me in the middle. The conversations become more and more lively after the liqueur as a nightcap and many a daring thesis is thrown into the room. Dangerous terrain, everyone who has ever drank liqueur at a family celebration knows that. You have to be very careful what topics you get involved with. Anyone who asks once is in it. Without right of withdrawal. Because when liqueur is involved, you can't get out of conversations.

A world full of egoists

"Mankind will see what it gets out of it," says my aunt, for example, warning me. "What will mankind see?" I ask absently and at the same moment regret it again, because what comes down on me in response is a swan song of humanity, a lamentation concert about the lack of manners of the youth and a deep regret over the loss of Helpfulness. Not only my aunt is sure that the world has become more selfish. Uncle Jörg also agrees and in the end even my mother nods timidly. "I also think that everything has changed a bit," she says cautiously. And I even know what she means. Still, I don't believe this gut feeling a bit.

The felt truth and real life

I venture to venture into the question of whether all of this is a bit pessimistic. But the liqueur-fogged party doesn't want to hear that. It has become terrible, they say. An unstoppable tragedy, the extent of which would only be apparent sometime after Trump. And people like me who stoically ignored the tendency are the tinder in the fire of an affluent society in which no one needs the other anymore. Aha. I feel guilty for a moment, then dig deeper. How do my relatives fix the egoism of the world? "It's a feeling," they say. And feelings never deceive.

The expert says: It's all nonsense

I'll call an expert. Prof. Dr. Horst Opaschowski is a futurologist, publicist and advisor for business and politics. Not only does that sound more well-founded than my aunt's feeling, it is. He can tell me exactly how things are going, actually quite well. "Solidarity light" is what he calls what research perceives in society. "This means give and take according to the motto: I will help you, but only that we understand each other correctly: You will then also help me," he explains. So aren't we that ego after all? Maybe we never were? "Yes, yes, but the ego society had its peak in the 80s," says the expert. "The events since September 11, 2001 have tended to bring people together again."

Why are we not so ego at all

There are many reasons for family and neighborhood solidarity (light). "The pension is not secure, for example, and it makes people fearful of the future. That increases the sense of family." And people are not only concerned about their future financially. "I recently heard a sentence on the news that stuck in my head," says Horst Opaschowski. " The greatest poverty is lonelinessthe poverty of contact. A sign of poverty for our society. This knowledge, too, "he says," makes people more altruistic and lets them move closer together. "Isn't that all that bad with the egoism?" I ask again, to be really sure. "Not at all," says Horst Opaschowski. "Older people tend to romanticize the old days. And if everything was better in the past, people were also much more selfless. Or at least that feels like it." And he says it so intelligently and charmingly that you can't really take it angrily at the aunts of this world. But it's still good to know they're wrong.

Horst Opaschowski

The scientist and consultant for economics and politics taught at the University of Hamburg from 1975 to 2006 and headed the Foundation for Future Issues from 2007 to 2010. In 2014 he founded the Opaschowski Institute for Future Research (O.I.Z) in Hamburg with the educational researcher Irina Pilawa, his daughter.