The Last-Slice-Of-Pizza Dilemma


The Last-Slice-Of-Pizza Dilemma is a staple occurrence for middle-school aged kids in America.  Let me set the scene.  You and three friends are circled around a rectangular table.  Tummies growling.  Mouths watering.  Your friend’s dad plops the box of pizza down.  One friend dives at the box of pizza and opens it while the rest of you grab viciously for a slice.  Plateless. Careless. Grease stains spreading like ink in water.

One slice down and on to the second.  You eye for the biggest slice and pick it up.  As you mindlessly devour your second slice, instinctively you begin to do some calculations as if you were awaking from being hypnotized.

“Ok, we’re all on our 2nd slice.
There’s 4 of us total.
And only two slices left…”


From this point forward it’s an emotional calculation – warring versions of self-interest.  Hunger – one of the most basic desires – compels you to eat more quickly to be the first to grab the second-to-last slice.  At least then you could claim ignorance of how many slices you’ve had.

But the second-to-last slice gets taken and all of a sudden there’s a different pressure – concern for self-image, or put another way, the desire to be liked.  At this point you might decide that satisfying your hunger is more important than your concern for your self-image and proceed to grab the last slice.  More likely, you’ll actually ask if anybody else wants the last slice- a gesture that has the appearance of sincere care, but it is more carnal than that; By asking, you’ve effectively placed the onus of responsibility on your other two friends, who themselves now have to decide which desire is more important, their hunger or self-image.  One says no.  So does the other.  Mission Accomplished.  Unembarrassed, you pick up the now luke warm pizza with a grin of victory on your face.

But in this war of desires, there is yet a third desire that we’ve been trained to bury here in the West- a desire for your friends, those around you, to be the beneficiaries.  This is beyond simply treating others the way you want to be treated.  This is considering their well-being before your own.  And while this is a desire, it is not selfish like the other two desires.  It is more mature.  More life-giving.  More human.

This is how the Last-Slice-Of-Pizza dilemma plays out for those who operate by the third desire.  Far from waiting till the last slice – sensitive of the uneven math – you resolve to be satisfied with but one slice.  You eat it and then stop.  You’d prefer that your three friends each get the same portion, even if it means you eat substantially less.  Here, there is no motive born from concern for self.  Nor by some other form of insecurity.  It is motivated by love.

Operating from this third desire drastically changes the social dynamic.  In fact, you’ll notice that your three friends, who otherwise may have operated in self-interest, will be more conscious, more aware.  They, themselves, may choose to forfeit a slice.  Or insist you eat theirs.  Here there is no competition.  No cannibalism.  It’s true friendship.  A true team.

Obviously the Last-Slice-Of-Pizza Dilemma plays out in nearly all of our social interactions.  While driving to work.  While in line at the grocery store.  Making investments.  Out at dinner.  Unfortunately, our society has trained us to be cutthroat.  That is if we want to get ahead.

Here at California Fruit Wine, we are imagining a world where we do things differently.  Whether in our interactions with our customers, in who we choose to do business with, or in how we want to grow, we are motivated by this third desire- care for others.  For business, this is counter-cultural, seemingly at odds with the “bottom line”.  But maybe that’s a good thing.  Is this idealism?  Some unrealistic utopia?  I don’t think so.  What I’m afraid of, is that labeling as such is just way for us all to justify our own selfishness.

So you have two choices.  Dismiss this notion and continue on as usual.  Or be a part of helping us in choosing to relate to each other differently.

Alone, we are but cogs in the system.  Together we can accomplish great things.  Who’s with us?


About brianhaghighi

Brian Haghighi is the Co-Founder and Co-CEO of California Fruit Wine Company, an innovative winery in San Diego that handcrafts wine from a variety of different fruits, other than grapes. He writes about his experience as an entrepreneur in the wine industry. Closer to home he writes about society, its institutions, and dangerous ideas about ways to drastically improve our world.
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