GRE Issue Essay 243
“People who pursue their own intellectual interests for purely personal reasons are more likely to benefit the rest of the world than are people who try to act for the public good.”
It is true to an extent that people who are in pursuit of their individual interests for personal reasons are likely to benefit the world. Nevertheless, the contribution made by the people who work for the public good cannot be undermined. Both these categories of people are responsible for carrying out deeds from which the rest of the world can benefit irrespective of whether the actions carried out by them were for personal or public reasons. However, it is not necessary that the people who pursue their interests for personal reasons stand to do more for the rest of the world as compared to the ones who keep public good in mind while carrying out their actions.
History is replete with examples of scientists and researchers who worked for the betterment of mankind. At the same time, there are those researchers who worked in isolation for personal reasons, but their discoveries helped in benefiting the rest of the world in a major way. Bill Gates may not have kept the notion of public good in mind when he started his work, but the end result of his commitment to pursuing his interests was that the entire world benefited from the results of his work. Explorers like Christopher Columbus and Ferdinand Magallen travelled across the seas in pursuit of their individual interests. They wanted to see what lay at the other corner of the world. The results of their travels were that the entire world came to know about the people who lived in another part of the planet. Scientists like Isaac Newton and Albert Einstein spent their lives in pursuit of their individual interests. These scientists probably would not have thought of the magnitude of the effect that their discoveries will have on the lifestyle and knowledge of the people in the rest of the world, but the truth is that their research resulted in discoveries that changed the face of humankind for good.
Mahatma Gandhi was a follower of non-violence and all his actions were committed towards the betterment of the society he lived in, whether it was in South Africa or in India. All his actions were carried out for the good of the people and he ultimately succeeded in freeing India from the clutches of an imperialistic power and he also succeeded in initiating a movement against racism in South Africa. Mahatma Gandhi’s principles and actions benefitted the people around him because he placed the welfare of the public much above his own interests. Another example is that of Jawaharlal Nehru who was born with the proverbial ‘silver spoon in his mouth’, yet he chose to place the interests of the public much above the pursuit of his own individual interests thereby leading the country on the path to progress as the first Prime Minister of independent India.
There may be a sizeable number of people who pursue their interests with the selfish motive of personal gains with total disregard to the harm it might bring to the public. Such people can go to any extent in order to make their lives more comfortable even at the cost of making the lives of people around them miserable and uncomfortable. In view of the above, it can be concluded that although people who follow their own interests in life may succeed in benefitting the others, it is not necessary that the actions of such people will benefit the public more than the actions of people who have always acted for the benefit of the public.