Ethics seems to be a theme in my life today. I saw a special on students and cheating on CNBC. Apparently, the incidence of cheating in school – among and teachers – is alarmingly high. Later, I saw an episode of American Greed where a hedge fund manager bilked millions of dollars out of his customers and was then, ironically, swindled himself by another con artist and then staged a phony suicide. Right after that, 60 Minutes ran a special episode on the Bernie Madoff affair and various financial schemes in general.
On the flip side, I just read an article on the website of Scientific American Mind that challenged the largely accepted interpretation of Darwin’s theory of evolution. Darwin’s intention with the phrase “survival of the fittest” was that the species that survive and evolve are those that are best suited to their changing environments. Unfortunately this has evolved into an excuse for social Darwinism. This belief system claims that “survival of the fittest” proves that the people on the top are the ones who, in fact, deserve to be on top, no matter how they got there. Overlooking, for the moment, the self-serving nature of this belief, it has been proven scientifically that this actually isn’t true. Societies – human and animal – that cooperate with and look out for one another tend to be stronger and more likely to survive.
The article described a scientific study involving chimpanzees that tested their reaction to unfairness. The chimpanzees reacted to the unfairness (in the form of different food rewards to different chimps) with tantrum-like behavior. However, the “privileged” chimps went the extra mile of refusing to accept the unjust reward while their compatriots suffered.
The bottom line is that we as humans can do better. We do not have to settle for the dog-eat-dog society we are so often presented with. Through the timeless qualities of love, support, cooperation, and basic common-sense fairness we can create a world that is satisfying and safe to live in.
And as artists we have the added privilege of making the world a very BEAUTIFUL place to live in!
Have a great week and follow your bliss…