Darwinism vs. the milk of human kindness

Over the past week, I have had multiple different conversations that come down to the concept (in my mind) of “survival of the fittest” vs. the concept of “the milk of human kindness”.  In my post I said Darwinism because the first phrase is attributed to him.

Taken completely out of context of his writing, it has been corrupted to mean that people should do whatever it takes to survive.  It has also been made to mean that someone that is weaker has no “right” to live.  In today’s world, many people manifest this concept without even knowing what the underlying idea is because it is so ingrained in their psyche.  People who think one race, creed, religion, tribe, sexual orientation, sex, etc. is superior to another believe this.  They might couch these thoughts in different terms, but this is what it comes down to.  Whether the person is a Neo-Nazi, bigot, Klan member, religious zealot, political zealot, your boss, the high school bully or your neighbor, this underlying thought is what motivates their prejudice and hatred.

According to sociologists, these people are acting under the stimulus of fear.  And that is correct.  Because, if you are not the fittest, you might not survive.  Since survival is the strongest instinct in humans, it makes sense that many people would fear not surviving to the point that they would hurt and injure others, even to the point of death, to retain their supremacy, their “fit-ness”.

So how does the “Milk of Human Kindness” fit in?  Why is that there are many people who see past the stereotypes of others to help, befriend, and love people on the other side of one of these lines?  People who don’t see them at all?  Sociologists say that it’s because these people see all the people on this planet as one “race”.  The Human Race.    So they don’t see these other peoples as competition, but as others among the “fittest”.

I agree with this, but I also think there is more to it.  If survival is the strongest instinct humans have, it is defeated by war.  People might think they are helping the “race” survive, but they are not helping humanity.  The concepts that separate one human being from another are, for the most part, in our heads.  Our DNA, which drives the survival instinct, doesn’t distinguish.

We have been warring for thousands of years.  I personally think that we are actually selecting for those who believe in a joined humanity.  Now, I can hear the arguments now:  “Then why is violence getting worse?”, “Why are more people dying?”, and “How can that be true with all of the hatred we see every day?”

I think there are multiple answers to that.  #1. There is more information about what is going on in the world disseminated on a daily basis than there has ever been before.  Genocide isn’t a new concept in our history, it’s just new for people to know about it while it is occurring rather than afterward.  #2.  The concept of hatred is becoming more anathema as more people are born each year whose genetics have selected for survival of the human race.  In every war that is fought, although there are many very altruistic reason to go to war and I am not denigrating any one of them, many of the people who are killed are those that hold the idea of survival of the fittest.  So, over thousands of years, in all of the wars humankind has been fighting, we have been pushing genetic selection toward survival of the human race.  #3.  We are not solely our genetics, we are also a product of our environment.  So for every person that is taught kindness, someone is taught hatred.  I do not mean solely by their parents or education, either.  One person’s actions may instill fear and hatred in another, and one person’s kindness may still that fear and hatred.

So what does that mean to all of us?  I believe that it means we can make a choice to listen to our inner instincts when they tell us we are a joined humanity worth saving.  We can reach out that hand, sign that petition, and lend that ear to another.  Making someone feel welcome and worthy might just make them see things a bit differently.  We can also make the effort and choice to try and understand the people around us, be they open or close-minded.  By no means should we put up with abuse from others, but taking one moment to look behind the arguments that someone might make and listening to what they are saying…and not saying.

See, I think Darwin was right in the true concept of “the survival of the fittest”, but only in the biology of our genetics.  But we possess higher brain functions that can override the instinct to see others as enemies to dispose of and instead, see humanity as what needs to survive.  Our genetics will continue to select for it anyway.

What do y’all think?


~ by theartistryofthebipolarbrain on March 17, 2012.

8 Responses to “Darwinism vs. the milk of human kindness”

  1. This is going to sound horrible, but given the collectively idiotic actions of individuals, families, clans, groups, regions, countries and entire continents, I’d argue that our upper mental functions are most often used to figure out how to better kill, disempower, or otherwise reduce all others to better ourselves.

    Sorry… 😦

    • I can see why you would say so. And I am not going to argue whose perception is “better”. Everyone will have their own perspective and thoughts on this subject. I do agree that, for those who believe in survival of the fittest, they do seem to come up with better and worse ways to kill more people. They also seem to be able to think only of ways to corrupt inventions and other every day items into weapons of mass murder. But that doesn’t mean that, for those of us who see things differently, we should stop inventing things or helping others. If you have a bushel of apples and one has worms, you would check the rest, but you wouldn’t automatically throw them all out. Cynicism and pessimism might be easier bedfellows than hope and optimism, but that doesn’t make them good bedfellows.

  2. I completely agree with what you say here. I guess I’ll offer a comparitive, analogy. In the animal kingdom, lions have an arch enemy, the hyena. If you ever see a documentary about these 2, you would see the genetic (instinctual) process. For no apparent reason, aside from being born and existing, these 2 species are out for blood. Amazingly the hyena being so much smaller in comparison to the mighty lion, is well suited in spite of the obvious underdog structure, and totally capeable of meeting the challenge. The reason I use this example is because if you view us as a species, we, like animals, have inborn characteristics. So pathetically, we are doomed to change it. I am an advocate for teaching children kindness, peace,love,fairness,not to judge, etc. I preach about parental abuse, verbal/mental and physical abuse, but unfortunately many of my notions are in vain. I swallow the jagged pill that exists simply because, ‘it exists’, and for no apparent reason. There is NO human emotional excuse as far as I can see, that should warrant such hatred geared towards another human being, BUT, it is as such. Working to change it is at times pointless and absolutely frustrating because I realize there is more to it.
    Much of who we are, how we exist, and why we react, is genetically predisposed. For those of us who view humanity as an entire species, we will forever battle those whose lense tells them otherwise. For many (perhaps lacking a specific gene, which I believe is true, and would be the ONLY excuse for that behavior) implicating certain humans are a natural preditor-therefore, kill it, destroy it, or weaken it, as a means of protecting the species. After all, we technically are animals. You will see contrasting behavior time and time again in the animal world. For example dolphins vs. sharks vs. humans. What is it that allows a dolphin to instinctively protect humans from shark attacks? This seems strangely unnatural doesn’t it? A fish protecting a human? How does the dolphin know the human needs protection? Why does it even engage in the risk of protecting the human from the bullying shark???Again, this must be related to a specific ‘geneolocial factor’. Again, something we cannot control, nor have anything to do with.
    I would be easily compared to a dolphin as far as ‘preventing the bully/abuser(shark/bad parent) from causing harm to another individual. What is it then that also allows certain animals to interact, cohabitate with humans, and why? It has to be a similiar gene responsible for warranting a specific nature. Another contributing factor necessary is positive vs. negative. Negative and positive must be, or the scales tip, and an imbalance causes malfunction.
    So then we should sadly conclude, with logic and ration, that it is perhaps irrational and illogical to expect we can change it. Maybe the only thing we can do is lean towards the group we fall into. Ahh, but now we fall into a whole different category—Emotional Factors. Another complex human characteristic!
    There is yet another element that plays a role, and that is ‘HOPE’. For those of us predisposed to a calmer, asthetic, and kinder nature, we also must face the fact that we fight from hopeful perspectives. Unlike our natural negative enemy, the aggresser, the bully, the abuser, the racist etc. These groups display little hope, nor little faith. So might we also conclude that perhaps they are the ‘evil breed’ Doomed spiritually???
    Is this possibly an indication of some higher force? Good vs. Evil—-See what I mean? Could this be bigger than any of us to grasp? Because if we we were capeable of understanding with assurance, we might not be trying to figure it out in the 1st place! Maybe it’s not for us to know?? Not to raise more controversy, but I heard somewhere (jesus) said:
    ” You will know in your heart, that which I created. Anything or anyone that defies the heart, is not of my making therefore you should turn the other cheek and pray for their soul”
    Things that make you go HMMMMM…………….

    • I have to say that I disagree with much of what you are saying. Ignoring that I believe in a different faith structure, I don’t believe that a belief makes a person evil. Yes, people with these beliefs about A being better than B have done and will do some very evil things. But I know many people who manifest these feelings in very minor ways that, although not harmless, are not anywhere near what I would consider evil. I don’t consider these people my enemy, as that would be giving them far too much power. They are a burden to be carried, a child to be educated, and a bully to be avoided all rolled in one.

      I will be honest and say that some of the people who believe in survival of the fittest are dangerous people with very evil plans for the people around them. And, were I given a choice, I would make sure they were removed from the gene pool so as not to propagate their attitude and behavior. Because of our ability to teach others, that is not as good an option as many might think. So, although we might be able to stop them from doing what they are doing, we cannot stop the thought process at this point.

      I believe that we are genetically selecting for those that believe in humanity as one race, but that does not prevent the people that feel that way from being aggressive in and of themselves. Otherwise we would not have domestic terrorism groups that include those wanting to prevent the killing of animals or their habitats. So the thought process that leads to someone believing that they are better than another is not necessarily inherently violent. And those that believe in the milk of human kindness are not inherently nonviolent.

      Education and time are all I believe that will change these things. And by time…I mean thousands to millions of years. 🙂

      I am going to leave my thoughts there as I don’t wish to get into a debate about faith.

  3. […] https://theartistryofthebipolarbrain.wordpress.com/2012/03/17/darwinism-vs-the-milk-of-human-kindness… […]

  4. I agree no debate about faith. That’s all personal. I agree with what you’re saying. I do think it’s all twisted together though, and evil was a loose term referring to ‘positive/negative’ or ‘good/evil. As to compare 2 things (balance) ‘Evil thoughts’ are just that. There is a huge difference between evil thinking vs loving. No debate there, and certainly I was not implying a belief makes someone evil. It’s very easy to tell the difference, Some people are just born with, well let’s say, imbalances or imbalanced thinking. You must agree, for example a serial killer, a sociopath etc. I wouldn’t consider Hitlers belief system acceptable. I can’t say however, that his beliefs (that to strengthen the Germans securing their survival by eliminating Jewish people) was evil, but I can say, his believe system was harmful to specific human beings. Therefore, his belief system was not in my opinion, an acceptable one, and his beliefs were capeable of evil things. By enemy I meant it is possible, and logical to accept we may have natural enemies due to our basic genetic set up. Animals have them, and since we are also animals, it is probable that we can expect to have natural born enemies, whether we like it or not. Again a theory. . Actually I agree with what you say, perhaps you percieved my words differently. I have to say, you’re being very optimistic with the million years thing. Maaaaybe 2 million! 😛


  5. I think humanity is capable of creating..and destroying. Of kindness and cruelty. We chose. Often we chose…poorly. One thing we never learn is that we don’t need to destroy what we fear. Because that reflects on us, not them.

  6. hey there girly! I have nominated you for a cool blog award! I hope you will participate!

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