we are often in a bind as to primacy between the two. no? i suspect this conflict is gender- and culture-biased. meaning, seemingly more women find themselves in almost-daily conflict regarding this choice: me or other? also, communitarian societies seem to - while not exhibiting conflict - posit the individual against the social or community good.
and so, the cavalcade of diatribes and epithets directed toward one who chooses self over others goes something like this (i've heard enough, i ought to know): selfish, individualistic, egotistical, egocentric, immature, opportunistic, unevolved. any others?
on the other hand, always - or preponderantly - operating from a place of others-first means what with respect to you? in a utopic society, others care for each other. in such a society, it follows that if i care for the others, the others will (take) care (of) for me.
i have rarely seen this work beautifully. or effortlessly. or altruistically.
i suggest we revisit the altruistic social psych experiments of the 60s to see how things turned out; in sum, they turned out not so favorable for community. also, we might do well to revisit jung's gender polarities, which he placed on a spectrum of care and self-efficacy; male and female, the fulcrum of which is superlative evolution, i.e., androgyny.
"horrid word or concept," you might say to yourself. bah! androgyny. really? do women not like to bang nails into walls? or lift weights at the gym? have i only imagined seeing a man stand in front of an overwhelming array of flowers looking for the perfect bloom for his beloved?
since when does poetry or wine or strength or finesse have a gender?
if i am strong and compassionate and look after myself, am i not in a better capacity to care for others?
i think yes.
i choose myself. first and foremost. and then come the others.