Can we share?

This is really the question that humanity gets asked by our circumstance here on this planet. Can we share this space?

Can we share this limited space? Can we tolerate others in the space near us?

Can we accept all others as our equals in basic worth and dignity?
Can we function as if we were all at the same level? Can we accept others as part of ourselves, even joyfully embracing them?

Im sure we can, but that doesnt nessicarily mean that we will, or that we even want to when it comes down to it.

This is a pretty broad topic, so I doubt I’ll be able to address all or even most of it.

However, I did want to mention that we all fall victim to a self-serving bias, which makes it hard to view others, particularly others we barely know or don’t know at all, as equals. This leads to a feeling greater worth and entitlement, which in turn leads to a decreased willingness to “share” that which we consider to be “rightfully” ours.

Can this bias be overcome?

Probably not completely. Its innate, and thus would be extremely hard to fully eradicate.

Can this bias be overcome to the extent that we’ll willingly “share” with those “in need”?

Yes, but only with education, and, here’s the trick, willingness to change. Before you can be willing to change something so innate, you must first realize that its wrong, and its the very nature of the self-serving bias to assume that you are right.

So, its possible that we can learn to “share”, but most people will never learn to or even want to learn to.

(I guess I agree with Frighter then.)

And furthering what Nugen was saying… there are so many factors involved in realizing this perfectly sharable planet that I think it would not be possible to achieve.

First, we all have different particular values that stem from the different experiences we all go through that shape our selves. For all of us to have the exact same values or at least for all of us to have as the most important value the willingness to be completely social and self-less (as opposed to selfish which would reduce our willingness to share), then a very large part of our lives would have to be dedicated to the same types of experience. You can imagine the kind of mind-control and facist states we’d be dealing with here.

Part of freedom (which I’d imagine we all agree is important - the freedom to be uniquely ourselves) would necessitate the kinds of individual and group differences that would lead to disagreement, conflict, and (at the least) a strong desire to protect those things which are more important to you… in other words, something that is not a perfectly equitable world.

This is the utopian but impossible to realize ideal that communism strove for. Wouldn’t it be great if we were one big brotherhood of man and woman? Well, in theory. In actuality one big brotherhood would mean one big fraternity.

The power to dissent is as important as the power to cooperate. As long as we have the ability to dissent, we will not achieve perfect brotherhood. And without that ability, we no longer have our humanity.

So perhaps we should change our goal to creating a balance? How to we maximize peace and equity without losing individual freedom?

Dear Frighter,

If you believe that we CAN share, then why WON’T we share?

Dear Nugan,

You note that “we all fall victim to a self-serving bias…” and you say that “Its [self-serving bias] innate.”

Now a baby human cannot function and survive on its own. It can only function and survive with the care of a mother. We get born into a social situation. Did you know that human milk is very nutritionally poor? This requires that a mother and child spend a lot of time in close physical intimacy. This creates important emotional bonds between both mother and child.

This behavior seems incompatible with the idea of a primarily self-serving organism.

A question that might be useful in asking is: how much of our “innate” self-serving bias comes from our culture, rather than any biological trait?

Blaming biology seems to let us off the hook from responsibility.

Otherwise you seem to state that because of a biological flaw, that functions as self re-enforcing, human beings cannot share our limited space.

Does the idea of “mine, and not yours” actually have a biological or a social root?

If biological do you suspect that we can eventually genetically alter human beings to eliminate, or diminish this trait?

First of all, the self-serving bias I was refering to is the tendency to believe yourself innately superior to other humans, particularly those with whom you do not share a strong social bond.

This self-serving bias does tend to lead to self-serving behavior, but it doesn’t necessarily mean we will act 100% selfishly all the time. It only means that we will tend to think of ourselves first and others second (or not at all). This means we will perform altruistic behavior, particularly if the cost is low, because it will make us “feel good”, since such behavior is usually followed by positive feelings such as pride, etc.

Is the self-serving bias biologically innate of socially taught? Probably a little of both. I’d say some of it is grounded in simple evolutionary survival mechanisms. However, society can certainly have some effect, as evidenced by world societies that have a more comunal focus (as opposed to our American individualistic focus).

If innate, can it be genetically altered out of exisence? This is a question far beyond the scope of someone who’s only real knowledge of genetic engineering comes from a single college “Law and Bioethics” course.