Darwin’s vison of the evolution of a species has always been of fascination and inspiration to me.
To oversimplify his life’s work I would summarize his brilliant view as follows:
Individuals within a species who present genetic mutations dramatically inconsistent with the population, that provide a competitive advantage, are more likely to survive to the age of reproduction and thusly possibly transfer the successful, albeit mutated, genetic code to one or more offspring
For years now we have been told that the countless prescriptions of antibiotics issued by doctors, responding to our species insistence for immediate solutions, has created the possibility of a super bug. Now as we face a pandemic, I can’t help but wonder if Covid19 is further evidence of this.
When you really consider it, Nature has a spectacular way of wiping the slate clean when any particular species gets out of hand. Taking up too much place in what needs to be a perfectly balanced ecosystem.
The slow, the weak, the aged and the vulnerable invariably are the first selected in the culling that evens the scorecard, so that all species may co-exist in an environment with limited resources.
When one species’ success runs wildly out of control, destabilizing the delicate balance required to maintain a harmony, some catastrophic event typically hits the reset button. Often eradicating the entire species forever.
In a recent speech Joaquin Pheonix called on us to reflect if “…One nation, one gender, one species has the right to dominate another with impunity“
Historically the signs of over dominance have included a species becoming so successful they mistake of interpreting the absence of visible predators for invincibility.
Can you say “Ice Age” Mr T Rex?
This self obsession ironically accelerates the species demise, by taking them off their competitive toes, letting them grow fat, slow and oblivious to threat.
You don’t need to look further than the device in your hands to be reminded of just how isolated from reality Homo Sapiens have become.
Mr Jobs invention, designed to bring us closer together has done the opposite by driving us into a world of chasing “likes” instead of working on being genuinely likable.
And walking through the aisles of the local grocery store, the absence of toilet paper, confirms that while diarrhea is not a symptom of a respiratory virus, it may indicate how our attention to the facts has dropped to Neanderthalic levels.
Even our compulsion to consume without consideration reflects our dog like nature.
A friend tells a story of his big dog jumping up on the counter and chewing through the packaging of three pounds of fruit cake one Christmas. When my friend got home, on the floor lay the dog with the most regretful look on his face, as if to say “ Dude!! What was I thinking ?!?”
The dog survived but my friend had the biggest Boxing Day clean up ever.
In recent weeks we have seen that this same animalistic behavior lies beneath the surface of some of the most fortunate members of our species.
And not even very far beneath the surface !
Witnessing behavior from Televangelists selling coffee, to use for barter in the post apocalyptic world,
to fist fights occurring outside grocery stores only days after the first cases were announced in Canada and you witness Homo Sapiens behaving like Lemmings racing toward the edge.
Profiteering and barbarism surfacing so rapidly it leads me to question: What truly lies beneath the thin veneer we paint on before we walk out into the world to spend most of our days noses buried in our devices?
Ironic isn’t it?
Now that we are being told that social isolation is the only hope we have to “flatten the curve” from resembling a hockey stick (Hey! I’m Canadian-eh), we, who spend our days obsessively distancing ourselves from any traditional form of communication- like talking, listening, smiling at a passerby and even eye contact – are now defiantly questioning the epidemiologists on how this unprecedented pandemic can be controlled through social distancing.
Oh sure… we will wear a mask to protect ourselves against illness – but too many of us are so cavalier, we think this won’t affect us! We are too powerful, rich & healthy to succumb to anything!
It’s not about you Monsieur T. Rex.
It’s about the fact that while this pandemic is projected to touch at least half of the human population… we don’t actually have the resources to attend to all three and a half billion of us in one waiting room at the same time!
So we won’t stop it’s onslaught but collectively we need to slow its pace.
Enter my hero- fellow twisted thinker & Scotsman Charles Darwin!
Darwin postulated that while the original default color of an Arctic Hare may have been a taupey beige, that didn’t serve the species so well, given the backdrop in which they frolicked was most often snowy white.
Predators could see them miles away.
So the species didn’t do so well.
Until, through some genetic mutation some mama hare popped out a couple of albino hares and those Wiley Wabbits actually got to make woopie with a couple of lighter beige members of a neighboring …(wait for it) …harem… (come on! I had to!)
Ok poetic license on Darwin’s theory aside, you get the picture.
So where the f&*k am I going with this?
I was thinking about how this may just be nature taking care of the overpopulating of our overly self consumed species by introducing a virus that will by all accounts slam our advanced healthcare.
And of course I was thinking about Mr Darwin’s theory.
I began to wonder …
What mutation at this point would be the genetic advantage for members within Homo Sapiens?
Looking around there seems to be one trait that is as scarce as a Black Hare in the arctic:
The selfless consideration of others.
The only way we can possibly flatten the curve and have the greatest opportunity for limiting the strain’s impact on fragile healthcare systems, is if we can all get past our egocentricity and consider the unseen vulnerable individual who may be connected to someone to whom we inadvertently pass the virus.
Not SELF preservation … but actually the selfless preservation …of someone we don’t even know.
In a world of orange men making this an “us versus them” issue or amazon snake oil salesmen jacking prices on Purell, this is as much of a genetic mutation as any Duck Billed Platypus or a black and white donkey on the Serengeti.
Now I’m not sure if Darwin’s theory considered individual or collective social evolution … but I’m thinking we are about to find out if the principle holds.
In my tiny sphere on this planet, I see fledging businesses take leadership positions by making the socially conscious choice to close instead of squeezing out much needed revenue, in the early days of this crisis:
I see established businesses, making the choice to go beyond governmental guidelines because the risk is too high to just take half measures:
I see corporate leaders shifting the focus of resources from strategic goals to employee support.
Most encouragingly I see the next generation of Homo Sapiens choosing to self isolate while reflecting on higher ideals like empathy and mindfulness.
I see tough choices being made by those who very easily could confuse “never give up” over “doing the right thing”
These outliers, deserve our acknowledgment. And further our “Natural Selection” of support because they are mutating against the previous definition of “survival of the fittest”
Their choices introduce a possible alternative to the threat of extinction.
Ok, perhaps not the extinction of a species but certainly of a mindset that can only lead us further beyond nature’s balance.
This may be a stretch in Darwin’s theory but it certainly gives hope to the Origin of a (new) species.
(Editors Note: While I posted a couple of examples of outliers here, I would love to hear of the altruism you are witnessing… please share them with me in your comments)