The Primal Nature of Humans

How come they only fix the bridge
After somebody has fallen

How come you turned the deafest ear
When it is your own brother calling

How come you teach your kids to love
When it is killing they are memorizing

How come they go to war with terror
When it is war that is terrorizing

A snippet from the African song Hoobaale by K’naan.

When I first heard this song I thought it was very thought provoking. What is the primal nature of humans – SELF. The Us or them and the What’s in it for me mentality. We do things to satisfy our own desires.

Example 1

A guy sees some beautiful women and an old lady trying to cross the road. So in order to impress the women, he would assist the old lady across the road. How chivalrous.

Example 2

A female decides to date a guy because of the type of car he’s driving or because he has some social status.

We don’t naturally do things that will benefit others and ONLY others. Whatever we do has to benefit US first then others. “How come they only fix the bridge After somebody has fallen”? Why are we so reactive?

“How come they go to war with terror, When it is war that is terrorizing”? Wars are a way to show which country is more powerful. Why can’t we live in congruity. Share resources – food, medicine, education etc. We preach to love thy brother and yet there is evidence everyday in the news of the contrary. It’s just sad.

Man’s greatest enemy is himself!

11 thoughts on “The Primal Nature of Humans

  1. I am going to offer a counter-view. I regard this kind of behaviour as an aberration that has been imposed upon humanity relatively late in its development. Humankind would never have survived this long if it was not by nature a societal and cooperative species. I cite Peter Kropotkin’s 1902 work ‘Mutual Aid: A Factor of Evolution’, which postulates that species with strong internal cooperation survive hard times better than competitive species. The answer to the dominance of this aberrant behaviour and mentality is to promote, foster, and encourage its opposite. If one person (myself as a poor example) believes in it and pushes for it then that may be enough to tip the balance.

    Perhaps the first practical step is to work for no reward. Work that is done for no reward has a social value. For example, if I see the beautiful woman and the old lady trying to cross the road I assess who needs my help most, and maybe I help one and come back for the other. Maybe I check out whether the beautiful woman is blind, or whether the old woman is fit and alert for her age, maybe I check out which of them has heavy bags to carry. Whatever – I do it for no reward except the thought that maybe they will pay it forward and that maybe that paying-it-forward will, at some stage, break the awful bonds of personal gain.

    To me THIS is being true to our primal nature, it is returning to our primal nature, it is struggling against the imposed, aberrant mind-set and behaviour, it is realising that in a dog-eat-dog world it is better not to be a dog. I don’t believe that the aberrant behaviour will give up without a fight, and when faced with its resistance we will have to choose whether to oppose it with force (as Makhno or Durutti did) or passive resistance (as Gandhi and MLK did) – but that is a question for the future.

    Marie Marshall

    • Hi Marie,

      You said “Humankind would never have survived this long if it was not by nature a societal and cooperative species”, but that’s exactly my point. If we as a species realise that the ONLY way for us to survive is to collaborate, then we are definitely going to do so.

      I agree with you in that we first need to work for no reward in order to tip the balance. I remember a got a flat one night at a known mugging spot. A ranger was traveling behind me and saw what happened and he stopped and helped me. I was impressed. And he left a positive impression on me that there are good Samaritans out there. And because of that occurrence, I too will perpetuate the kindness endowed upon me that night.

      I am not exempted from this crime.The fact that someone has to offer kindness before you can offer it back seems to be a problem in itself.

      My question to you is this: How can we live in congruity when we live in a capitalist world?

      Loved you point of view.


      • ‘Paying it forward’ is a better concept than offering it back, if you see what I mean. I tell a story about a mechanic who went round fixing people’s lawnmowers. He fixed one for a woman who said “I’m sorry I can’t pay you, but you’re welcome to join us for a meal.” The mechanic agreed and stopped to have an enjoyable meal with the woman and her family.

        Next the mechanic fixed a lawnmower for a man who said ‘I can’t pay you, but I can see your boots need mending – I’ll do that for you.” The mechanic agreed, and went away with his boots soled and healed.

        Next the mechanic fixed a lawnmower belonging to an old woman. She said, “I can’t pay you and I can’t think of anything to do in return.” The Mechanic said, “That’s okay – you do a favour for someone else.”

        One day, not long after, a window cleaner washed the mechanic’s windows. “There’s no charge,” he said. “An old woman sewed some buttons on my jacket and asked me to do a favour for someone else.”

        Not long after that there was a loud knocking on the mechanic’s door. When he opened it he found another mechanic, frowning and furious. “You’re taking away my livelihood!” he shouted. “You’re ruining my business!”

        “No,” said the mechanic. “You’re ruining it yourself by asking for money.”

        “What else can I do?” asked the second mechanic.

        “You could come in with me and we’ll both work for nothing,” said the first mechanic. There was a long pause.

        “Okay I’ll think about it,” said the second mechanic. And he went away and thought about it.

        That was how the revolution started.

        That story brings me round to your last question. We can live in congruity by collaborating less and less with the ‘capitalist world’ by working less and less for money, and more and more in pursuit of the social value of work. If I help someone carry heavy shopping bags I have to recognise that what I am doing is indeed ‘work’; but its value is not the equivalent of a porter’s wages for the time expended (that isn’t value at all – capitalism tries to tell you it is, but in fact it is not value but ‘price’), its value is purely social. The more ways we find of working to the goal of ‘mutual aid’ the less we will rely on money and the more emphasis is placed on the social value of our work. The less we rely on money the less tenable capitalism becomes.

        It is no use relying on politicians, because politicians think in terms of nation states, and all nation states (even those that express such a strong belief in the ‘liberty’ of their citizens) are oppressive.

        Imagine a group of people at a starting line. A distance away (100 metres, 200 metres, it doesn’t matter how far) is a finishing line.

        According to capitalism, the rules say only one person is allowed to cross the finishing line.

        According to ‘statist’ communism, the finishing line is irrelevant because the rules say everyone has to move at the speed of the slowest person.

        According to my vision of mutual aid, the rules are irrelevant so long as we all help each other to cross the line. All it takes is for people to realise that corporate capitalism is not our friend, that the nation state is not our friend, that the old ideas of free market capitalism and of centralised communism do not work and will not help us, and to start cooperating freely. I would like to see those ‘old ideas’ consigned to the past, like the ‘Golden Triangle’ slave trade.

        It is going to be hard work. Politicians and vested interests will do their damnedest to prevent it. They will invoke their constitutions and laws (Emma Goldman said “Every great idea is against the law”); they will combine against us with a national flag in one hand and an apple pie in the other, but with a concealed gun in their belts. But mutual aid is the only way to go. The old ideas either have collapsed or are collapsing – time for the human race to move on.

  2. Yeah, some people are that way,sadly. There are two types of people in the world. They are either givers or takers. I abhor the company of people who are always out for themselves.

    • Totsy, I learned from Oprah (yes Oprah. My great life teacher) that you should always separate yourself from people like that. They have negative “energy”, and when you let people in your life with negative energy, you will never self-actualize.

  3. Pingback: Appetite for Violence | Amor's Thoughts

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