Friday, May 18, 2012

Can't We Get Along?

We Aren't Selfish Animals.

For the last few decades, it's gotten popular to think of humans as selfish brutes, whose overriding motivation is to copulate and eat. Basically, dicks are perfect humans. 

some humans are more perfect than others...
 However, recently published research on early humans shows that one key to our continued survival is our ability to subvert any dickish tendencies for the good of the group.

In hunter-gatherer societies, rituals are put into place to make sure that the best hunters - who would naturally, genetically be more successful - shared the meat with the whole group. In isolated tribes today this takes the form of people other than the lead hunter distributing the meat. That's because we quickly learned that survival isn't all skill, it's luck. Even good hunters have bad days, and bad hunters have good days, so we are better off if we work together to get the food. This way we spread the risk. As any middle-manager knows, teams work together best when hierarchy, competition, and dickishness are minimized.

Les Stroud, Survivorman, had the solitary survival show that was cancelled. Coincidence?

Society is moving in the right direction.

Seriously - don't believe the naysayers and pessimists.We now work together as a species, and even as a planet, to achieve common goals and spread risk. Think of CERN, which physically crosses the border of France and Switzerland, and hosts hundreds of scientists speaking dozens of languages. And think of the Internet, which connects us across the country and around the planet. My sister is having her first child right now in Singapore, and I can be part of it through email, updates on the phone, and Skype. That is new to this generation.

Being connected and working together have defined humans for 250,000 years, or 10,000 generations. This generation is bringing us much closer than ever before.

Regardless of our prayer life, ritual practices, or spirituality, we're doing it - mostly - without the help of our religious organizations.

Go us!