AROUSING THE LEGACY OF ALTRUISM
Mainstream evolutionary biology teaches us that prehistoric humans, the stone-age hunter-gatherers, survived and gave us the legacy of their genes, as well as the lessons they passed down, because their evolved gene patterns, along with the cultural context of learning---passing down ideas that worked, from one generation to the next---helped them to survive the episodic freezings and thawings of the earth’s surface. Those who did survived to bequeath their genes and their culture, and those who didn't did not.
This is similar to how the Emperor Penguins survive today. The ancient human ancestors knew what the penguins know today---to cooperate, to self-designate and accept particular crucial roles---the entire array of which not a single one of them would have been able to handle alone.
Somewhere along the way we, as a world culture, have either lost or buried the affirming vision and spirit of altruism.
The phenomenon of heartlessness that spread by cultural fragmenting of mind would be a plausible explanation. Cultural fragmenting is a quick recipe for misunderstandings and mutual frustration that can escalate into combat on many levels.
Relative heartlessness is an obvious consequence of population-wide subscribing to the deterministic and emotion suppressing philosophy of stoicism. Combining several sets of pathological ideas, and forcing them into a culture, is not difficult if the ideas have a nice layer of sweetness covering the poison, which seems to be the case with stoic logic, physics, and ethics.
In an experiment of one---my study of the history of my personal emotional life, as I am able to remember instances of it---I learned early on to detach myself from emotional experience: “If you don’t stop crying I will give you something to cry about!.” I didn't and they did. Worse than the pain of being struck was the shame I felt when others laughed at me.
I am still learning how to allow my feelings to come naturally without inhibiting experiencing them. In some circumstances I remind myself that I should experience them without expressing them. Becoming emotionally reconnected helps me to be more genuinely empathic, sensitive to and responding to the suffering of others.
For me, emotionally self-integrating is one of the main roots of healthy spirit and healthy judgment. Thus, every time I succeed in making a healthy connection with another person, even a brief one with anybody---on the street, in church, at any gathering, large or small---a healthy connection occurs within me, between the other person and me, and within the other person.
As we part both of us leave healthier.
The pattern, the template, of this connecting, its code, is gently and sweetly transduced into increasingly enduring patterns, code, of corresponding neural circuits not only in my brain but also in every cell in and under my skin. I think that aspect of the process is what my voice teacher called muscle memory, the integrated and nuanced emotional experience of doing it right.
The main point I am wanting you to consider is that there is a wonderful legacy available to us from our Paleolithic ancestors that is exemplified even by our present day teachers, the Emperor Penguins, who survive both as individuals and as a species, by nurturing and protecting each other in extreme conditions.
In order for us to be receptive we must first reverse engineer the cracking and fragmenting of Humpty Dumpty, motivating us to, without the King’s Infantry or Cavalry, ever so peacefully put him together again.
Let us not hoist him back up onto the wall. He has a lot to teach us as a whole egg down here with us.