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It's never a good idea for me to get bored. When I get bored, I start looking for answers to questions that I thought I already had a handle on. For instance, I used to be an atheist in my youth. Then I got bored and picked up a Bible. After reading it religiously (haha) and repeatedly, picking the brains of my Christian friends and studying other theological materials, I became somewhat of a fundamentalist. Then I got bored again, re-read the Bible and now I'm back to atheism.
What I like about this behavior pattern is that it pushes me to think about things in a new way and discard old opinions that don't seem realistic anymore. What I don't like about it is that my newfound ideas are almost never popular with anyone else. Tends to get me in trouble.
Well, I've been bored lately. So I got thinking about the Afghan people and the Arab race in general. Are most Arabs really the innocents that the peace protestors say they are? Or are they what they present themselves to be - a violent and racist group? Can they, or even should they, be taught to embrace diversity and democracy? Should we send them food and money or is it a waste of our time and resources? This train of thought got me to thinking about Social Darwinism.
For those of you who are unfamiliar with the term, Social Darwinism is a belief that the weaker creatures on this Earth should be left to their own devices to fail and, ultimately, die out. When you just call it Darwinism, you're referring to natural selection in which the most environmentally compatible species will flourish, leaving the others to evolve or become extinct. When you call it Social Darwinism, you're applying that philosophy to humans.
Man is the only species that actually tries to prevent the extinction of another species. For example, birds do not care that the Arroyo toad is on the endangered list - they're going to eat it anyway. Humans, on the other hand, will chain themselves to a bulldozer in order to protect those toads. Darwinism says that the toad is supposed to become extinct - if it wasn't, the toad would develop a defense mechanism making it unpalatable to birds or a camouflage that would help it hide from predators. Many species actually do just that sort of evolutionary transformation. When the toad becomes extinct, it makes room for a more evolved species of toad.
Social Darwinism relates that theory to the human race. An example: the Pulacuam Indian tribe has been extinct since the 1500's. In fact, there are over 200 Indian tribes that disappeared after Columbus showed up in the New World. The popular theory is that the whites killed them off. Social Darwinism says, "Not true" - they became extinct because they were an inferior race and couldn't cut the mustard. To prove it, they point out that many more Indian tribes have survived into the present day, white man notwithstanding.
You may have heard that Hitler was a Social Darwinist. This actually isn't true because he took it upon himself to exterminate a race. True Social Darwinists don't cause extinction en masse; they merely let nature take its course. It's a "sink or swim" mentality. Liberals are decidedly against Social Darwinism. Conservatives tend to lean that way, whether they admit it or not. In our socialistic desire to "level the playing field", the idea that some segments of humanity are just plain inferior is met with shock and cries of "racism", "elitism" and "eugenics". I used to feel that way, too, until I got bored.
So now I'm thinking about countries that we send food and money to because they can't seem to do for themselves. We sell them technology because apparently they're not smart enough to make stuff themselves. My question is: by bestowing all this largesse are we, as Americans, merely trying to prevent the extinction of a species? I can hear you saying, "Well duh! Of course we are." And my reply to that is, "But should we?" By preventing the extinction of an inferior bunch of people, are we also preventing the evolution of a superior species?
There are civil wars raging constantly all over Africa and the Middle East. These countries have droughts that make it impossible for them to grow food. Basically, the people of these nations are trying to kill each other, and Mother Nature is taking up the slack. Is this the way it's supposed to be and we should butt out? Would the world be a better place if we'd mind our own business and let nature take its course?
Let's take it a step further. Right here in the good ol' US of A we feed and shelter people who can't take care of themselves. It's called welfare. We also try to prevent people from killing themselves, via seatbelt laws, helmet laws, etc. Some states have a law against suicide. We have warning labels all over objects that's usage should be common sense, including McDonald's coffee cups. By doing this, are we merely extending the lives of people who should become extinct?
There are some people who just can't survive on their own. Even when you give them money, food and shelter most of them still try to exterminate themselves with drugs, alcohol, risky sex and irresponsible behavior. We come up with ways to keep them alive and safe; they come up with even better ways to kill themselves. Do they know something the rest of us don't?
The other foxes couldn't care less that the Northern Swift fox is on the endangered species list. If they could reason and speak they'd probably say, "Good. More food for the rest of us." And they would eat that food with gusto and never once think about rescue efforts. Our humanitarianism toward the inferior among us is one of the things that separate us from the lower life forms. But is it also keeping the human race from evolving?
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