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Sharing and sharing alike - wouldn't it be nice if it worked all the time?

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To recap: We left our intrepid hero - you - in an unsettling situation.

Frequently cold and none too overfed, you are now face to face with an entirely new Clump Of 50 Human Type Thingys and boy do they look gaunt and cold. What to do? Are you overcome with fear and unease? Ready to run screaming home to your mommy? Ready to take up arms and defend your territory?

Of course not. No, you are not the least bit worried because you are exploring Option No. 1 for us - and it doesn't involve any fear or unease at all.

Option #1: Share and share alike. Benevolence, altruism, good stuff and happy nice sharing.

This is a nice option. It's such a nice option that many of us wonder frequently why human beings don't use it all the time to solve all their problems. No strife, no bloodshed, no prejudice, no conflict, just happy nice sharing among all the members of the human family. After all - the 100 members of the 2 clumps are all human type thingys aren't they? No one life is worth more than another, is it? Why can't they just drop the guarded looks, give each other nice warm embraces, accept each other as friends and happily cooperate and share the resources of the territory? Isn't it the only fair thing to do? Why even consider them 2 separate clumps? Where did a silly idea like that come from anyway? All human type thingys have needs, let's settle the situation equitably by divvying things up equally. Right?

Yeah, right. You don't believe that for a moment do you? You know that isn't how it works. Sure, you think, sure you start sharing with the first miserably hungry other clump that comes along and first thing you know all the other clumps are banging at your door wanting a piece of your woolly mastodon pie or whatever else it is you're serving for dinner.

Even though we have presented for you an option that involves you not being the least bit scared or wary or unhappy - just accepting the Other Clump exactly as you accept your own - you don't believe it, you don't believe that's how your clump or any other clump would handle the situation. You don't believe it because in this case sharing doesn't work.

In a limited resource situation such as the one you have found yourself in, sharing and sharing alike means that 100 people get half rations and they all fucking starve to death together - but very kindly! Nobody is unhappy with each other - but everybody dies. Doesn't work. They may be in a good mood toward each other and politely passing the gnawed on bones (no, you first!) but they all fucking die. Your Social Brain has developed an exquisite ability for you to be extremely fucking unhappy with and scared of Other People and Other Clumps because if you don't have that to motivate you, you're going to fucking share yourself into the graveyard.

It's not that this share and share alike impulse doesn't exist in people - it does. That's why people long for it, why the Rodney King module inside all our brains occasionally cries out 'Can't we all just get along?!' To which the sobering answer is - no, sometimes we can't. There's enough for 50, not enough for 100. Somebody's going to die. If it's everybody - lights out human race. If a mechanism is found to weed out some of the excess - survival for human type thingys.

Occasionally in history, clumps will veer toward the share and share alike response when confronted by invading clumps of Other People. This often doesn't work out for them. Note American Indians, frequently adulated for displaying the occasional share and share alike response to those terrible white folks. Admirable perhaps, but also pretty close to annihilated. Share and share alike clumps when confronted by voracious invaders have an alarming tendency to go belly up and get overrun by those same invaders. Peace may be a nice idea, and it is, but sometimes it just doesn't fucking work for the peaceful.

This is why the un-peaceful often get incredibly fucking uptight when there is some sort of crisis looming and Other People around them are peaceably babbling about peace and so on. Their active Social Brains start screaming at them - 'You're gonna die! These fucking peace-mongers are going to screw around babbling about peace until we're all fucking dead! We're doomed! We're in danger! Starvation is immiment! Fuck those peaceniks, I want war! War now!' And so on. It seems nonsensical, who the fuck can be against peace? Who could be against avoiding bloody mounds of mutilated dead people? Who wants to get bombs dropped on them, or watch other helpless humans get bombs dropped on them and go up in truly horrifying spectacular bursts of agony? No one, not really. But part of the Social Brain's job is to get uptight and terrified of peace when it appears there's a threat on the horizon.

And toward its general aim of inciting fear of peace, it is prone to make its victims, otherwise normal people like yourself, babble incredibly stupid things in favor of war. The Social Brain's warring impulse is not there so you can make logical sense when you speak on its behalf, it's there to make you scared out of your fucking mind of peace and to communicate that fear as rapidly as possible so that you can scare the shit out of everyone in your clump so they won't sit around on their asses like idiots trusting in peace while your entire fucking future as a clump is perilously endangered. That's its job. It's good at it. If it wasn't, there'd be no human race for you to complain about and be scared of.

You can hate this if you like - the Social Fucking Brain's fear of peace in times of threat. You can argue with it if you like. You can say that things are different now and we are not in evolutionary fairy-tale land anymore and we should have evolved as a species if you like. You can say that things should be different. You can declare this a terrible fault and flaw in human wiring. You can do anything you want. But all those suspicious-looking Other People clustered in your neighborhood - they all have brains shaped by an evolutionary history in which happy peaceful share and share alike was not the best option in clump to clump resource shortage encounters.

Your personal brain, your big fat fucking Social Brain was shaped by it too. Deep in its heart, way down inside your skull, your Social Brain pumps out messages to you that say things like 'Share! Share with those miserable [Insert Other Clump Name Here], no fucking way! That's a fucking death sentence! No, MINE! No sharing, no! No, no, no! I won't be nice, goddammit, I won't, I won't. And nobody can make me! No!' Even when there is a not exactly a war looming on the horizon.

Maybe you think that your Social Brain is terrible to say things like this to you - and that it's terrible that Other People are busy thinking them too, but that's part of its job too - to not want to be nice to others who don't belong to your clump - for fear of what that will mean for you. Your Social Brain firmly believes that sometimes there is just not enough to go around and that as a result, sometimes you are going to get fucking screwed if you don't screw someone else first. Advanced spiritual thinkers will tell you that your Social Brain is wrong - that in fact we live in a world shaped by God's abundance and that scarcity and the unhappy fearful reactions it creates are just an illusion. This may be true. But your Social Brain doesn't fucking believe it.

Your Social Brain was shaped by the reality of scarcity and that's one thing it believes in. Being a human-survival-depends-on-it mechanism - the Forget That Fucking Altruism Mechanism is very strong-minded and quick to assert its opinion. It will encourage you - and everybody else on the planet - to be scared of Immigrant Other Clumps, and Different Racial Clumps, and Suspicious Foreign-Acting Other Clumps and to clutch its precious resources to its breast and start whining things like 'They're taking our jobs!' and so on.

You will see this mechanism everywhere you go - you have noticed it already - in the subway, in the cities, in the car rental line. You have noticed it for many years - you just didn't know why the human universe is overrun with jerks. It's overrun with jerks because Social Brains worldwide are constantly worried that there just isn't enough. Not enough rental cars, not enough seats on the subway, not enough oil, not enough you-fucking-name-it.

If being afraid of immigrants and other races and saying things like 'They're taking our jobs!' suits you just fine, then you and this part of your Social Brain will get along quite well. If constantly fucking getting your guts in a knot about not-enoughness and scarcity is your cup of tea then you and this part of your Social Brain will spend many bonding moments together freaking out and panicking about shortages of all kinds of things. You may even find the occasional war somewhat of a relief. Since action is an antidote to fear, it may feel like at least someone is finally doing something aggressive about all those potential dangers.

But that's not all your Social Brain can whip up when it comes to war. There's plenty more war-like Social Brain antics ahead!

 

More fun with your personal Social Brain and the existence of war.....

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