4 out of 5 adults see life as the survival of the fittest. Whether you and I realize it or not, this is the bane of our society. Establishing this fact is the focus of this article. By the way, survival is a natural process resulting in the evolution of organisms best adapted to the environment (WordNet).
Being a natural process means survival is an integral part of the genetic composition of organisms that live by it. To these classes of organisms, survival is the only way of life – they do not have the capacity to think to live otherwise.
To who is survival a burden?
Any activities that are natural are not a burden. Swimming is not a burden to fishes and flying doesn’t constitute a burden to birds. Survival is the inherent aptitude of animals. Animals don’t find survival-related activities a burden.
Survival is however a burden to any classes of organisms that can choose not to live by the survival principle. These are the organisms that can choose between collaboration and competition and whose overall quality of life would diminish when a disproportionate number lacks the basic necessities of life.
The only class of organisms that fit the above description is human beings. Human beings are equipped with the capacity to think about alternative courses of action and make a choice. As human beings, we need one another in order to maximize our lives. When we live a life of survival exclusively, it becomes a burden because we weren’t configured to live that way.
The Golden Rule
You may ask, if we are not designed for a life of survival, then how are we supposed to live? We are engineered to live together in love. The golden rule for human life is: Love your neighbour as yourself. Everything we do should be driven by love. When love is absent in human interaction / relationship, the cumulative value of our self-centred lifestyle is much less than optimal.
Economic interpretation of the burden of survival
There’s an economic principle that says that what individuals want may in the aggregate be a situation nobody wants. Put differently, an aggregation of the outcomes of human survivalist approach to life may ultimately produce a social situation nobody wants. This explains why the Gross Domestic Product – GDP – (the sum total of the value of goods and services produce in a country in a year) in a developing country can continue to show positive growth but the Human Development Indices (HDIs) are nothing to write home about.
When GDP growth doesn’t translate to positive HDIs, it is indicative of the failure of leadership. This is to the extent that it is the responsibility of leadership to transmute economic growth into socio-economic development through well-thought-out policies. In most developing countries, not only are the leaders failing in their responsibilities, they also create conditions that make a lifestyle of survival, among their people, the norm. This they do because they know that so long as their people are preoccupied with survival, they (leaders) can perpetuate themselves in power.
Conditions that preserve survival lifestyle
Human activities at any point in time are primarily driven by one factor – expectation. When a lifestyle of survival is prevalent, you find a prevailing condition of uncertainty which people expect to persist. So long as people are clueless about the future, especially their economic future, they resort to self-preservation behaviours.
How to lift the burden of survival
If uncertainties activate survival instinct in people, the prevalence of predictable social, political and economic conditions makes it plausible for people to collaborate rather than compete. Leaders that are desirous of creating widespread economic buoyancy must make predictability the focus in the formulation and implementation of policies.
While national leaders should aim at predictability in order to lift the burden of survival, at personal levels, you and I should choose acting in love toward others as a way to lift the burden of survival. It’s in doing this that we make the world a better place for all. But when we choose not to love, we persist in making the world a precarious place to live.