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Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Is Compassion A Mutant Gene?

When we are young we are full of countless ideas, not yet corrupted by the world. I had a childhood friend, very smart guy, now a remarkable mathematician. We use to debate about things, some of those we were not able to comprehend and some we did, but lost it with time to the sirens of reality.


He would make a case that people are bad by nature and if some one is good than it is against our intrinsic nature. He was a total cynic. “So you think goodness is a mutant gene” I would counter him. We would debate to and fro and go around in circles. He would try to support his hypothesis by theorizing evolution.


He would say “Darwin’s theory is it about survival of the altruistic or is it about survival of the strongest? We are what we were. Since we started to walk upright we have been fighting over food to land and everything in between. What do you think natural selection or survival of the fittest is? It is exactly what it sounds like; YOU TAKE WHAT YOU GET”. He would add “compassion is a trait we have just started to learn, merely for few thousand of years, do not bet on this newbie”.


I would argue “if you truly believe in evolution than compassion and empathy is a gene in evolution. Maybe after struggling for so many thousand of years some of us are now fortunate enough to get the better end of evolution. We may be evolving into a higher beings”.


But when I see character like the one I mentioned in my earlier post Predator I start to doubt myself. On the other hand the people like the lady I met who volunteered all her life to care for homeless people, affirms my faith.  Amongst us live people who have ascended to a higher level of living; but there still those primitives; who prowl in the murky nights for prey.


We may not have control over what genes to pass but we can at least learn to modify our behaviors.


About the picture: Phoenicopterus/Flamingos are not genetically pink, they turn pink after taking high carotene diet. Shot at Busch gardens.

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