Kindness to others

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Some humans learn to think beyond themselves, their group, or even their species.  Photo by Tom Parsons on Unsplash.

Kindness is found in nature.  Animals act socially, foregoing their own welfare for the welfare of others.  Giving is not an exclusively human phenomenon, not at all.  So why do we often find it so hard to be kind?  What are the obstacles?

SELF-INTEREST

In our evolution, self-interest played a large part.  Animals who had self-protective systems managed to propagate themselves better than others who did not .  It’s not surprising that this has extended to our current batch of human beings.  In many, you can see the evidence of this history.  Footballers on the pitch lash out at each other, gaining an advantage by tripping others, holding them back, or elbowing them.  In business, you can see the same thing.  In many circles, it has a competitive edge, with directors acting to defend either themselves, or  narrow batch of people close to them.

There is some logic in this way of living.  It can make life more predictable to act closer to home.  In other words, if you control those in your immediate vicinity, then you have better chance of success than if you control those further away from you.  Thus, selfish individuals are best known for exercising unusual control over their nearest and dearest.  They take advantage with their moods, making implicit threats, and doing whatever lessens the loss to them, and increases their chance of gaining what they like.

KINDNESS

But kindness has been known to be more effective than selfishness, in the long run.  Even by the standards of selfishness.  Sometimes, being able to hold back on your own moods, can mean than you are better able to gain social support in the long run.  Some people understand this well, and are able to create, jointly, societies where individual self-restraint is exercised in the interests of the many, rather than the few.

Some enterprising individuals have even dared to suggest that nothing at all need come back to the individual.  These pioneers have a sense that all this self-cherishing, and narrow self-interest, whether in the name of individual, country, or species, is all a bit futile.  This way of life is worth trying, if only to discover what it’s like to have a rest from an obsessive bringing of all things back to yourself.

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SUMMARY

Both selfishness, and kindness, are found in nature, and are part of our evolved, biological selves.

While there is some wisdom in helping those closer to home, many humans have discovered what it is to forego your own self-interest for the benefit of others, either in the short, or in the long term.

It is worth having a go at trying to escape the normal prejudices towards self, country or species.  Thinking more widely brings a new experience of life, and relief from the rather tiresome, narrow world of self-obsession.

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