altruism and homo evolutis

thursday sermon. april 25, 2013

                            altruism and homo evolutis

five main psychosocial characteristics of homo evolutis are:  deep listening, genuine interest, engagement, empathy, and altruism.  these are the choices that we will make as a species to move the evolution of our minds and culture.  there seems to be a lot of talk about whether or not altruism actually exists.  wholeheartedly altruism and its companions are what will move us to a new level of being.  our brains are designed to think about others and children as young as two have a desire to help.  it is only upon feeling powerless and futile that people stop giving help, because they don’t know what to do and don’t have the proper tools.  being denied access to recognising emotions will reduce the ability to apprehend empathy, yet no being is free of emotions, a new paradigm of feeling must be adopted.

genetic altruism is popularised by people talking about kinship and desire for familial groups to continue.  yet by the social drives of intermarriage, fostering, and other collaborative practices we can see that memes are just as much a driving force to this evolution as genetics.  parents who adopt children are not expecting their genes to pass on, but their memes.  all adopted children are not selfish egoists, so there is a relationship to genetic difference, through interactions with memes.  clearly humans are fully capable of being altruistic with any other human.  the meme of compassion, the little sister of empathy, is another doorway to accessing altruism.

negative state relief model makes every action about reducing the negative emotions in the helper, from viewing or knowing of the negative occurrence.  the empathy-altruism model showed that persons with high empathy will help regardless of personal gain.  critics argue that even without a concrete reward, the helper feels good about themselves, and thus every action is selfish.  other experiments were conducted in neurobiology.  these studies suggested altruism was not a conscious decision to suppresses basic selfish urges, but rather was innate to the brain, hard-wired and pleasurable.  you can not help but feel good, it is how and why our brains evolved the way they did, for complex beings to communicate as seamlessly and harmoniously as the world of cells.

the way we view the world is critical to how we will act in it.  everybody has a purpose and everybody is a worthwhile and creative human being.  we need not take the idea of altruism to an extreme and be self sacrificing, merely help where we can.  the story of the hummingbird gets mentioned often in the context of perseverance, but we should be mindful that the hummingbird is trying to save the home of all the animals, altruistically, in the only way she can.  one must not only wait for tragedy to strike but find the inner gifts the universe gave, and do what one can now.  make a piece of art, a blog post, or video that reaches your creative spirit out to the world that is in need and heal it.

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