Sunday, 25 August 2013

Humankind




Some years ago I stood at the top of a very steep hill about to make my descent carrying a very flimsy paper bag filled to the brim with fruit and vegetables I had just purchased, when the carrier bag split under the weight of the goods and within seconds apples, oranges, tomatoes, sprouts, onions, potatoes and last but not least a cauliflower went cascading down the hill at full pelt. There were several other people on the hill at the same time, either coming up or going down, and they each of them sprang into action whilst I stood transfixed. They gathered up armfuls of anything they could save to give back to me; one man even crossing a busy road at the foot of the hill, risking life and limb in the process of retrieving an orange which had rolled into the gutter.

A mundane little story I know, but an incident in my life that has stayed with me.

People by their very nature are helpful, sociable beings. We here every day of acts of valor performed by people who, when asked why they risked their lives to save others, will respond that they didn’t know why, that they just did it and had they actually thought about it for any length of time they probably wouldn’t have dived into a lake to rescue a drowning child, climbed up the side of a high building to save someone hell-bent on suicide, or dragged somebody from a burning house. These are of course extreme examples and not everybody would be capable of such deeds. But what it does say is given the right circumstances we humans can act altruistically. We can cooperate and we can celebrate the need we have for one another.

Personally I have always been more concerned with people than I ever have with Marxist theory or economics. I chose Marx because the insanity of capitalist society drove me to it. The evidence for the alienation felt by people in the present world is now so glaring that it will never cease to astonish me that more people are not embracing Socialism. However the real worrying question has always been for me what comes first, the chicken or the egg?   

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