Could it be that, in natural selection, kindness trumps fast runners with big muscles?
Some of today’s scientists are taking a new look at Charles Darwin‘s findings. They are exploring the flip side of what earlier scientists gleaned from his work. In the attached video link, Dacher Keltner of the University of California, Berkeley addresses The Centre for Compassion and Altruism and Research and Education on this topic.
According to Keltner, Herbert Spencer, who coined the phrase “survival of the fittest” (it was not Darwin as many believe), and others of his time focused on the mercenary competitive self-interest part of natural selection. But Darwin’s work was about much more than which animals could run fastest, pro-create most often or grow the biggest muscles.
Darwin considered the role that compassion played in societies that succeed. He wrote that sympathy ” . . . will have increased through natural selection, for those communities, which include the greatest number of the most sympathetic members, would flourish best and rear the greatest number of offspring.”
Could it be that kindness accelerates prolific pro-creation?
Keltner also argues that scientific studies show that compassion is part of our DNA. We pass it on to our children and our children’s children.
Studies involving the human voice in communities around the world find that there is a common “vocal burst,” or sound, used to portray compassion. If you want to portray compassion, what sound do you make? I think you will find that it is the same sound that the audience for Keltner’s lecture made when spontaneously invited to do so.
Human touch also builds trust and compassion. The more a team of basketball players touch each other, the better they play.
But we are now in a “crisis of compassion”
Studies show that we are less empathetic, more materialistic and more self-involved than thirty years ago. Keltner says that we are a “touch-deprived” culture. We need more mindfulness, more contemplation, and more gentle reassuring holding of hands.
The survival of the kindest depends on it.