Dear Dr Brilliant Cliché,
When I was in the Army my Drill Sergeant repeated as a mantra, “Though I walk through the valley of death I shall not fear because I am the nastiest bastard in the valley…. “
My grandson is in medical school and the one thing they don’t seem to be teaching him is compassion.
The prevailing political philosophy in our country, and perhaps the world, seems to be that of Ayn Rand.
My question then is , “Are we hard wired to be nasty bastards to survive?”
Just Call Me Sir
Are humans bastards? Is there compassion in medicine? And are we heading toward a global fascism? These are all excellent questions, each an essay in and of themselves. But the common thread that ties them together is that humans are territorial animals. Thus humans can be and often are bastards.
Medicine is now a business; compassion, which is free, has no value within the bureaucracy. The stockholders are the land owners in the business territories- not the patients.
We might be wired to be bastards but that’s only half the picture. We are also wired as social animals. Socially it feels good to help each other. We just have to be careful not to create political and business theology that is unbalanced and based on the bastard half. Charity as an afterthought can never compensate for the dragon’s hoard or what has been pulled out of the system by rampant individualists.
Unrestrained individualism does not work for other reasons besides plain hording. Trickle-down economics cannot work as it doesn’t trickle with equality. The elite do not give up 40% of their income across the board to everyone beneath them. They pick a percentage and then pick an interest of theirs to support. This is a silly system. There is also a slippery slope from libertarian individualism to global fascism and we might be slipping into the abyss.
Even if “the strong will survive and did deserve to rule” manages to work as a political theosophy, it usually falls down within three generations. The kids of the elite would most likely be self serving, entitled, useless jerks. Then we would get stuck with them as rulers. What one person spends his whole life building, his kids get for free thus they don’t appreciate it. They have no memory of a time that it has not been this way. They feel entitled to it; so they squander it.
Unfortunately I agree- we are living in an age of dragons.
Dr. Brilliant Cliché
The Granny Doctor adds- Unrestrained individualism is a bad idea because people are assholes. If we were all saints or Mother Theresa, it might be OK. But neither a saint nor Mother Theresa would ever have pursued a purely self-referenced motive, so perhaps the point is moot.
Yes, we are living in an age of dragons… but we have always been living in an age of dragons. At least strength is not defined so much by physical brawn anymore as it is by smarts. A good hacker can do more damage than an iron man, with one hand tied behind his or her back.
In answer to your question- do we all have to be nasty bastards in order to survive? No. We just need to learn to fight back. We may, at times, even have to fight dirty. As the I Ching says, “even the humble man has the right to defend himself when acted upon unfairly.” But there is a huge difference between the person who is a nasty bastard because his life is at stake and a person who is a nasty bastard simply because they enjoy it.