Amy Finkelstein

Amy Finkelstein

Thursday, September 27, 2012


Opportunities… life is replete with them- some golden, some missed, some once in a lifetime. With opportunity comes the opportunism a chance to “take advantage of a situation” can carry either a negative or a positive connotation depending on the context in which it is set. Unethical “opportunism” implies manipulation and making unfair gains, while “opportunism” may also reflect a sense of entrepreneurialism and initiative when one takes advantage of a situation.
 In reflecting upon this question, I often find in my daily life that I strive to act as selflessly as possible, which in essence is the antithesis of “opportunism”.  I approach life with a perspective that I would rather give than receive, and basically, do everything within my capabilities to support and help out the people in my life. I’m always willing to volunteer to do the tasks that others do not want to and am more apt to go out of my way to do something for someone else to avoid “putting them out”. The above anecdote about my personality is not in any way supposed to come off as self-righteous or hubristic. I am a pushover and a people pleaser, more often rather than not the disadvantaged party in cases of “opportunism”. Seeking to live a life based on altruism carries numerous challenges and obstacles, both from the outside world and intrinsically.
I chose to act un-opportunistically usually in the hope that the good deed will be repaid someday or to uphold morals or even to gain that sense of pride and self worth when doing “the right thing”. I often think people act out against “self-interest”, because their personal conception of “self-interest” may not lie solely within themselves. Human beings-the social creatures that we are- often invest what we consider our version of “self-interest” in the well-being of others around us. In another sense, what I’m posing is that opportunistic behavior may need an expanded definition. There may be a way to reconcile both opportunism and altruism. It is perfectly possible for one individual to deny and opportunity in the interest of the betterment of another person, operating so that another person can ‘take advantage of the situation’. Rather than controlling a situation for their own individual gain, someone may act to “open a door for” or “give a boost to” someone else. This still implies taking advantage of a situation, but with altruistic intentions. The personal benefit derived from this comes in service to another person. 

1 comment:

  1. Next time can you put the post title in the subject line rather than in the body of the message?

    I liked this post and applaud your efforts at human decency. I am that way too, at least in some settings, though I can get quite discouraged when I see others stray from this norm. Then there is also on the highway where I will speed quite a bit if I don' think a cop is around. Perhaps most people are decent in some circumstances and opportunistic in others. Then the issue is where to find the line.