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Tuesday, October 04, 2011

The Selfish Gene

It’s strange, the ways of life. The way we’re brought up with subliminal survivalist instincts bred into us right through our childhood. All those years that we’ve spent seeing people around us bargain. And we learnt to do that too. Bargain with the vegetable vendors and the rikshaw-pullers. Bargain with the innumerable people we meet on the streets to the ones working in our houses, cleaning the dirtiest corners of our homes. We bargain, and stay suspicious and wonder how much they might be robbing us at that moment. Overcharging on a KG of onion or a ride back home or for a month’s house work, within which there were easily 3 more days of absence than had been decided.

All that bargain to save us a tiny fraction of what we would spend otherwise on a dinner at a fine-dine or watching a lame rip-off of an English Hollywood drama. Or even worse, what we would spend on that silk kurta that would hardly ever see the light of the day.

That really does skew my perspective of human generosity. Of all the people, whom we could choose to exploit and bargain with, we choose the poorest. The uneducated ones, incapable of defending themselves and the ones to whom a little extra money would mean a thousand times more than to the owner of my neighbourhood spa.

It’s almost hypocritical. We ask and plead god to give us things and care for us when we cannot care for anyone but us. It’s almost like that advertisement by in which the mistreated employee is complaining to a colleague about his boss and then behaves in the same disrespectful way with the boy serving tea at the road-side shop.
And if it is not the indifference, then only one more reason cold possibly explain this hypocrisy. Our high degree of obtuseness, or ignorance, or both that makes the consequences of our actions oblivious to us.

That most of us in-spite of a relentless debate on sustainability and warnings of energy, food and water shortage, can indiscriminately continue to use and waste resources and not once think about the price that the lower end of the pyramid might have to pay for it. The value of their lives for us must really not even be measurable on the same scale that we use for our regular down-town acquaintances.

All we seem to be doing is caring for ourselves and out of our petty concern for our social needs, doing a little bit for our immediate family and friends. That’s as much as what marginally evolved animal species do. Seems like a rather meaningless way of living, doesn’t it?


ayush javeri said...

While your point of view is correct, the first and the last lines of your blog sum it up.


"How we instinctively bargain and haggle"
"All we seem to be doing is living for ourselves."

That's survival of the fittest isn't it. The fittest, right from being born lucky, to those who've possibly earned merit enough to posses a car and a full wallet, each chooses his survival first.

Each one of us haggles with nature so that he/she is the most comfortable and in the short term atleast, nature is not fighting back.

We haggle with not only the weaker ones of our kind, but with everything around us.

Thats the way all species have evolved. no you say?

We evolved from the time when the Ozone was a lot thicker to now when we're practically destroying it. We will possibly and probably evolve to survive an ozone free envirnment too.

Do you know that when a litter of puppies is born, the heaviest/healthiest one chooses the pair of teet closest to the mother's head and the weekest one is given the ones furthermost from the head. The best quality of milk comes to the healthiest. Quite contrary to an equal universe, and very selfish indeed.

While I myself do turn off the light, or the car at the signal, I do believe, that if things were meant to be "ideal" they would've been so. They're not ideal, not atleast the way most of us describe it. They are the way they're meant to be. If they weren't, they'd be forced to change.

Neel Bhatt (Zero) said...


shruti said...

@Ayush- if they're not meant to be ideal, why do some of the richest or most knowledgeable men choose to give up everything in the name of altruism. Why does Maslow's hierarchy not peak with self-esteem instead of Self-actualization. Why are the most knowledgeable people often the most humble. I think evolution means, understanding your role as a giver and not as a lone survivor. Because I truly believe, while the extent might be different, at some point most of us will get effected by misery around us, even if we don't share it or have to partake in it. But as for puppies and normally observable people's reactions, they reflect selfishness, because most of human kind is still not wise enough yet. And Maslow's supports it too no. only once we learn to survive, earn a place for ourselves, do we become wise and contemplative. Which is why people born with a silver spoon,often miss out on life's biggest lessons. They never grow out of survival to a stage where they care about other people or elements of nature or art or whatever it is that they find themselves inclined to. I find myself very selfish too at times. Only very consciously can I do things for others. But I do think I will grow. As will all people. Only the pace and the time will be different. So I think, least.

shruti said...

@ Neel- Thanks :)