I just finished reading a fascinating article on the debate between selfishness and altruism in evolutionary theory.http://seedmagazine.com/content/article/altruism_vs._selfishness_case_closed/
Although the research shows that the selfish individual will out perform the altruistic individual when pitted against each other, once you put them in a group of selfish people versus a group of self sacrificing individuals, the altruistic group succeeds best. Now, this may seem obvious because it requires a certain amount of self sacrifice to be a team player but if we go into this further and look at banking institutions, car manufacturers, and government, you might wonder how those who act together in a group for the good of all people ever succeed at all.
And then there are all the non-profit groups all over the world and grass root efforts like the Green Movement, The Civil Rights Movement and The Women’s Movement that changed the world. So, which quality produces evolution, being self serving or serving the whole? I think the key to being one of those ‘Darwinian survivors of the fittest’ is to have a combination of qualities that allow you to promote and protect your own interests as well as knowing when to put aside what is good for you if it means the greater good of all humans might benefit.
In many ways, this is at the heart of the health care debate. Insurance companies have had an unchecked strangle hold on the American consumer and has taken the quality of once was the greatest health care in the world right into the toilet. That we are 37th on the list of countries is a travesty. If we don’t band together and demand more accountability, we deserve what will be a devolution not an evolution in the well being of our overall health. It cannot be an accident that obesity, cancer, and addiction are at an all time high under the current system that only supports sickness ( and even that is questionable) and not wellness education. Yes, the whole system needs an overhaul, but in reconstructing it if we don’t first educate people on eating better, penalize smokers and heavy drinkers by dropping them from being insured, or institute required courses in the same way that we require young people to take to get their drivers license, all that will happen with universal health care is more sickness and corruption at the top of whose managing it.
We know that the more educated you are, the greater your advantages. If in this new system, a wellness program is not mandated, their will continue to be a rise in disease and addiction and more importantly, corporate greed will continue. A young filmmaker I know is trying to put the word out to people to gather in their local communities in a town hall fashion like the conservatives have done and demand a better system. I want to go a step further. It is not enough to have a voice for universal health care. We need to act altruistically for the education of those who are ignorant of their health habits ( or in denial) and demand that anyone who receives national health care also go through a wellness education program to qualify. And yes, you and I will pay for it just like we’ve been paying exorbitant premiums for people who trash themselves and then need extensive medical care. However, anyone with a brain can see that requiring wellness education is far less expensive than the alternative.
Dr. Toni Galardi is a life coach, columnist, and author of The LifeQuake Phenomenon: How to Thrive (not just survive) in Times of Personal and Global Upheaval. Her website address is http://www.LifeQuake.net