Kindness, unkindness, and genetics

Nurture Nature NeitherI get inspired when people ask questions that stimulate improvements to our innovation.  The following came to me via a Facebook post.

How do we decide which human behaviors are more desirable than others? If it’s true that our political leanings (the way we view the world) are heavily influenced by genetics, how do we then peacefully find common ground here? Can we even?…/Biology_and_political_orientation

Let’s see how we can address this in Copiosis.

I don’t know about the studies listed on that Wikipedia page, so I ignore them and respond assuming genetics determines political orientation.

No one decides what human behaviors are more desirable than others in Copiosis, except in the most general sense. That general sense is expressed as a question:

Does the behavior make people and the planet better off?

Pretty simple question to answer if you have a vast amount of time to determine the answer, and a vast number of people willing to help come up with the answer. In Copiosis, the Copiosis organization is responsible for analyzing producer outcomes including determining (through the net-benefit calculation) how much better off people and the planet are.

The Copiosis organization is all-volunteer and open to anyone.  The net-benefit calculation is managed by the Copiosis organization with input from society through a recurring series of citizen juries not unlike our grand juries today.

I would imagine that an enormous number of people would contribute their time and skills to the Copiosis organization. Doing so would earn good quantities of NBR, because these people contribute hugely to the planet and to people by making the system successful.  People also will contribute to feel good. While I’m not sure how genetics determines political affiliation, I do know we are hard wired to want to help our fellow humans.

So deciding what behaviors are desirable or not becomes an expression of helping our human family, not politics. I believe politics arises when need forces groups with different views to work together to make critical decisions in an environment where conditions exacerbate contention, resentment, and fear, thereby destroying collaboration.

Rather than focusing on whether genetics plays a role in political orientation, and whether that political orientation prevents desired behavior, it may be more productive to eliminate the conditions that tend to give rise to politics in the first place. We can do that by through these four steps:

1.  Making earning a living obsolete   Allowing others to have their way often jeopardizes our livelihoods (the ability to earn a living or maintain said living after it has been achieved).  Environmental protection laws and regulations are seen by industry as actually or potentially limiting their ability to earn income, provide jobs (contribute to others), and meet consumer demand.  Creating policies enforcing fair wages are seen by capitalists as, among many things, impinging on the free job market.  Capitalists see such policies as affecting their freedom to run their business as they see fit, which affects their ability to squeeze as much profits from their company as they believe they deserve.

Earning a living can mean many things, depending on one’s economic situation.  For poor people, it can mean getting food on the table and not losing the roof over their head.  For middle-income earners it can mean putting one’s children through private school, or owning the dream house, car, or other object.  For rich people it means avoiding the shame and embarrassment of losing one’s station.

Whatever it means, earning a living brings with it intense emotional reactions when it is put at risk.  Doing away with the need to earn a living frees people up in ways we rarely experience today.  Even those having lots of money don’t have the experience they would if they didn’t have to worry about losing all the money they earned, which seems to be a prime worry of the rich.

Enabling people to give up this concern releases a significant amount of resistance.  With that resistance gone, consensus on solutions can come much easier.

2. Eliminating perceived scarcity as the basis of our economics   When you think the pie is limited and that if someone else gets a slice there are fewer slices available for you, that causes you to become stingy.  Stingy people aren’t able to find and agree on solutions easily, even solutions that make sense or avert catastrophes.  They are too focused on their potential loss or the other person’s imagined gain, usually at their own expense.

Our current system depends heavily on all kinds of perceived scarcity.  Scarcity makes people act crazy, and not only on Black Friday. A particularly nasty aspect of scarcity concerns wealth.  A person is financially rich only in comparison to those who are not.  In order for you to be rich, there must be people who have less than you.  If everyone is financially rich—if there are no poor people—how would you know that you’re rich?

When we eliminate perceived scarcity, you will be able to relax.  You’ll be able to consider alternatives that perhaps you didn’t consider before.  In that lightness of being, you’ll become more amenable to working with others instead of against them.

There are still issues of morality to consider.  Moral issues can be affected by scarcity.  There’s a kind of scarcity for some Christians in access to heaven for example—if you haven’t gotten Jesus’ blessing, you probably aren’t getting in.  Perhaps this is why many Christians are against abortion.  Moral loggerheads may be more easily resolved when the perception of scarcity is eliminated.  I can imagine how that comes about, but it’s too much to write about in this post.

3.   Eliminating debt and the ability to get into it   Being in debt today creates severe psychological effects so pernicious that you probably think these effects are normal.  Feeling stressed out, cursing out total strangers on the highway, domestic violence are not the result of indebtedness alone.  But you can bet being in debt exacerbates many of these.  Keeping a job you hate because you have bills to pay and children to feed, staying married to a man for fear of becoming unable to pay your bills, staying married to a woman for fear of losing half your savings and a large portion of your ongoing income, denying one’s dreams for fear of running out of money—these decisions are often made because of debt.  When debt is no longer a problem, a lot of stress we experience in the world is eliminated.

If we combine debt elimination with job elimination—making unemployment impossible—then people no longer need to worry about a decision, such as an aggressively earth-favorable environmental policy, threatening their livelihoods.

4. Eliminating power dynamics resulting from one group of people controlling what another group earns for their effort (capital vs. labor)   The game as it is played today has a small group of people (capitalists) determining how much money you get in return for your labor.  Usually, this amount of money is hardly enough in your estimation.  What’s more, that same group of people decide how much of the money you earn must be forfeited so that you can benefit from various services that others like you are performing in exchange for their income.

Deep down, most of us resent this part of the game.  Nearly all of us believe we are worth far more than we earn.  Much of the time, the factors used by people who control your pay include your talent and skills.  Often, however, other factors—such as gender, sexual orientation, cultural or religious affiliation, competition (reward scarcity), and the desire for profit—also affect your income.

When your income is in large part determined by factors having nothing to do with your skills, it is natural to feel resentment.  Resentment naturally causes you to want to blame someone for how you feel.  This leaves you open to misinterpreting what you see and hear, particularly what you hear from people such as political leaders, radio and television news personalities, and others whose incomes derive in part by how many of you listen to what they say.  It is a natural result then to blame other groups of people—non-Christians, immigrants, Muslims, tree huggers, Democrats, etc., for your economic situation.  They become your enemy, and it’s difficult to make good decisions in your best interest when you have to make those decisions with input from your enemy.

Accomplishing these four things is a monumental task, and doing it while capitalism remains in tact is impossible.  Copiosis eliminates them handily, leaving people free from stresses and motivations for wanting to control other people and their opinions, what others get and don’t get, and others’ ability to determine what we get or don’t get, etc.  With these stressors eliminated, people become kinder, more broad-minded, and open to possibilities.

What about genetics?

Nature vs. nurture.  Do genetics really play a role in people’s political views and by extension shape their ideas of what a better world looks like?

I don’t know.

What I do know is that I’ve spoken to a lot of right-wingers, and I know many left-leaning people.  In one-on-one conversations, especially with people in the former group, I’ve been delighted to discover that they share the same desire everyone else does:

  • They want to get along with others.
  • The want others to get along with them.
  • They want a safe place for their children to grow up.
  • They want a clean environment.
  • They want a world without war.
  • They want prosperity for all.

Of course, they have conditions they believe must occur before their desires can materialize, and therein lies the trouble.  I believe that those conditions are false and that they arise from the pressure of earning a living, living with perceived scarcity, being in debt, and having one’s income subject to another’s decisions.

Everyone has the capacity to be kind.  What keeps that tendency from surfacing often are the short-term fears:  the need to earn a living, the fear that others are going to determine my fate, and the perception that there’s not enough (of whatever) to go around.

Eliminating the origin of these fears will go a long way to creating the world we all want to see.  Humanity will take it from there.

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