On Friday night I was sitting on the tram with a friend, we were going to Brunswick Street. Opposite me was a guy that looked in his mid 20s. The tram was becoming packed and there was a woman who looked in her 40s. The guy offered his seat to her. I’ve seen it many times on public transport, some people get offended because they think giving up their seat indicates they are old, actually it was only a couple of days ago I heard an older woman say to the younger woman who offered to give her seat that, “oh dear, you make me feel old.” Well, back to the lady on the tram, she just stood in silence, jaw dropped and her eyes looked like they were getting watery. Her face had a combination of sadness and offense. I actually felt sorry for her so I started asking her if she knew any good pubs and bars on Brunswick Street. She looked a little happy or maybe I just distracted her thoughts. Another incident where a seemingly good deed sort of backfired, I was attending a house inspection and many people turned up so you had people moving to and fro throughout the place. There was a couple in their 20s. I heard the guy murmur to himself "hmmm…. I wonder which way is north”. It sounded like he was thinking out aloud. I took out my iphone and showed him the compass and said “hey want to know which way is north?” He was surprised and excited as if I read his mind. He kept smiling and saying thank-you. His girlfriend came by and had the dirtiest look on her face. I thought about why we do all these (socially constructed) “good” actions, especially when sometimes they can backfire and are unappreciated.
I started thinking about a recent discussion I had with a friend about is “sharing really caring”. I tend to say that, more for the fun of it but I actually technically don't believe “sharing is caring”. I think sharing and caring is disguised as altruistic and is in fact selfish because most biological responses stem from some selfish reason. The main reason is preservation of the body, survival. Caring, sharing = acceptance = species compatibility = species survival. But then I dispute that perhaps the need for the survival as a whole species and not just survival of the vessel (i.e. the individual itself) can be altruistic. There are some theories, especially if you explore the field of quantum mechanics that state we are essentially energy, vibrations. I remember watching an interview with John Hagelin, PhD Professor of Physics. Hagelin mentions that we are fundamentally “waves of vibrations of this underlying unified super string field.” There are many people that share similar theories; there was a quote by Bill Hicks that “we are all one consciousness experiencing itself subjectively.” Nevertheless, if you believe in this connectivity, then perhaps some species wants and desires could be mutually, intrinsically communicated, hence a mutual need of harmonious symbiosis which could be seen as altruistic. Or it could be due to unfortunately, as I mentioned in my later blog (Hack segment on whether junk food is as addictive as drugs or smoking) our “crude mechanisms that are easily outwitted," animalistic parts which we lack the wisdom to consistently outwit.
However, despite that “good” actions are perhaps derived from selfish reasons, or they may seem like a waste of time because they are unappreciated, sometimes taken advantage of. However, if you see the totality of things, corny as it may seem, I believe “good will eventually prevail.” I remember reading about “Tit for Tat” which is a strategy in game theory for the iterated prisoner’s dilemma and it was used as an example to find an evolutionary stable strategy. It was found from “Tit for tat” that evolution often favors co-operative behavior hence “nice guys finish first”. Well, my personal view is people/organisms who take advantage of others, who find satisfaction in others degradation, who work on a hierarchal mentality, is just evidence of an un-evolved, primitive mind, hopefully these traits will be phased out as we evolve.
Image Credit: Cutest Paw Website