Dear Potential Contributor to the New STI: © 12/31/97
Everybody knows that selfishness is a dirty word.
This they "know" in spite of Ayn Rand's book: "The Virtue of Selfishness" and in spite of some millions and millions of other words written by various Objectivist and other authors on the not always explicit, but usually at least implicit topic that selfishness is good.
So it is not completely unfair of you to ask me two questions. First: Why did I name my institute something so "offensive" as the "Selfishness Training Institute"? and second: How many written words is it going to take before people get the point that selfishness is a virtue?.
The first of these questions is a difficult, but not an impossible one to answer. The second, by contrast, is easy to answer: one more than all the words in the Universe. Which is to say, it isn't possible to get the desired result by words alone. At some point action is required.
Consider this letter one of your opportunities to act.
The first question, to repeat, is a difficult, but not impossible one to answer. It is difficult to answer because it involves me and my personal context. And since I am unknown to you, your impulsive response probably is: who cares. If this is you or even close to you, then I accept your persuasion challenge and ask you to allow me to tell you a story or two in exchange for your time. If you do, I think you'll find it interesting and (let me warn) you may even end up contributing to STI.
In the very early 90's I started my Selfishness Training Institute (STI) as a for-profit sole proprietorship to provide me with a career I would love and an income I could live on. I had been a Mechanical Engineer for a quarter of a century and voluntarily gave it up to pursue my real love which was psychology. STI was designed by me to provide psychological counseling services to individuals interested in using psychology to help them promote their own personal growth and development. A sentiment of mine at the time was: Psychology is for people not rats. (I did not use this as an Advertising slogan at the time, it simply was an unpublished sentiment of mine.)
At the time I had (and still do the last time I checked) a Masters Degree in Counseling Psychology. I spent the better part of the 80's obtaining it from the mainstream --read accredited-- universities and colleges available to me here in the State of Minnesota. (It took a long time to obtain because I pursued it on my own excess time and paid for it with my own excess money that I made as an Engineer.)
So in 1991 with my degree and enthusiasm in hand I set up shop. I designed my brochures and advertisements and set out to attract customers. I advertised in the Yellow Pages and local newspapers and sent out mass mailings introducing my Selfishness Training Institute to prospective clients.
Over time I had a few customers, but (in contradistinction to my hopes and wishes) they were not "knocking down my doors" to set appointments. So I thought, "well, this may take a little longer than I had originally planned". It was discouraging (and a significant amount of my savings was being consumed) but not so discouraging as to stop my motivation.
It took the State's threatening to send me to jail to do that.
STOP! HALT! DO NOT CONTINUE!
You are forbidden to read the rest of this letter because the person writing it is not a licensed psychologist...for that matter neither is he a licensed philosopher. Consequently, his opinions --not being sanctioned by the state-- are (probably) not correct.
OPTION: PROCEED AT YOUR OWN RISK
If you insist and do want to read on, do so at your own risk.
If you are interested in this letter and want to continue on, you can do so by correctly answering the following three questions: