A hypothetical question?
I ask the question and yet, I instinctively feel the answer is yes. We may not act selfishly, in fact we may live a life of sheer altruism, but unconsciously the individual comes first. So therefore, what some of us are very good at, is overcoming our basic human traits.
Survival – our ultimate aim
This makes sense, we have evolved from those who survived long enough to procreate and our brains haven’t been updated for a hundred thousand years. Manners and etiquette don’t play a part in our basic reptilian brain, but living long enough to pass on our genes does.
We impulsively react as though everything essential to our basic physiological needs is scarce. Which is why, if we are not careful, we find ourselves eating the whole packet of biscuits, hoarding our belongings and feeling reluctant to share our wealth with others.
Maybe this explains why my partner is lovely and generous when he is awake but hauls in the duvet to his body like a fisherman would pull in his nets, whilst he is asleep. He is unaware of his action as he throws his body across the pile of extra feet of duvet he has conquered. I on the other hand, being wide awake, feel guilty to pull it back and wake him up (this state of mind only applies in the Summer, in the Winter my reptilian brain is in full control!)
In an emergency, people will often do whatever it takes to save themselves. When danger is apparent (aircraft fire for instance) people will literally walk over others to make sure they escape. They suffer from guilt afterwards although it’s not their fault, they were motivated and driven by a powerful, innate survival response. Despite all of this, there are people who risk their lives to save others without thinking. Running into dangerous situations to save a stranger, even a drowning dog. Why? How?
Please note: I am an early riser and frequently wake up with thoughts and questions on my mind. I write them down and record them in these short unedited, un-researched, unscientific bits of writing. They are written in a half asleep hypnopompic state and should not be regarded as anything more than what they are – random thoughts and musings. For sensible subjects and writing please visit Positive Psychology Learning website