“The standard of humaneness lies in loving others and not in loving the self. The standard of rightness lies in rectifying the self and not in rectifying others.”
So says Dong Zhongshu, the Confucian philosopher of the 2nd century BC.
He was particularly concerned with humaneness in his teaching as a basis for ethics that can be extended out to the culture (and empire) at large via each individual cultivating it within themselves.
The approach of Dong Zhongshu represents a strain within Confucian philosophers (and by extension, Zen and Japanese thinkers later) that jives well with me: Fix your own shit, care for others — everything else stems from these.
That is quite different than the tendency in modern America to push the idea that you should learn to “love yourself”. I don’t agree with this modern narcissistic bullshit.
The point is NOT to love yourself. Start by loving OTHERS and fixing the negative things about yourself. THAT is where a healthy self-esteem comes from, not to mention a healthy society.
The cult of self-esteem — sadly pushed for decades by psychologists themselves; now ingrained within the culture — leads to Narcissism, not proper mental health. You are not the center of the universe. A person who is focused on self-love will constantly bash others for what they do wrong and be totally lacking in humane compassion.
To paraphrase Jesus, “before you bitch about the sliver in that other dude’s eye, take the log out of yours, hypocrite.”
Rectify yourself, love others.
Now go lift something heavy,