Sep 17, 2022·edited Sep 19, 2022Liked by Juliette Ochieng

Instinct makes us tribal. A solitary human on the early Pleistocene savannah had a short life expectancy. Tribalism often takes a racial form. We also may form tribes around language, religion, occupation (unions, guilds), sports teams, or shared experience (college attendance, combat, disaster survival). Instinct makes us altruistic; normal humans will risk their lives for strange children (who, 400,000 years ago, would have been relatives). Instinct makes normal humans want to be useful. There's not much worse that you can say of someone than "I have no use for that guy". A useless human is a drain on the community and likely to be abandoned on the trail, and good riddance. We instinctively need to be needed. Instinct makes us envious; if the best hunter in my paleolithic 30-person extended family looks like Tom Selleck and sings like Sam Cook, the only way I get my chromosomes into the next generation is to arrange a little accident. By the late neolithic, when humans started living in agricultural communities of multiple thousands, the strategy dictated by envy was no longer adaptive. If I'm only the 50th best basket weaver or potter in my community of 10,000 people, I will get identified and killed before I kill enough of the 49 superior potters or weavers to make any difference to my odds of reproductive success. Still, evolution has branded the envy instinct into the nucleus of every human cell.

2,500 years ago, a student asked Confucius if any single word summarized proper conduct, and the sage replied: "Is not 'reciprocity' such a word?" 500 years later, Jesus gave approximately the same answer (modified for the subordination of Jews to Roman domination): "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you".

Typos corrected, ymd zulu = 2022-09-19: 0711

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