I read an article yesterday about the raging battle among opposing camps in the rarefied world of biology. (Notice my clever use of “explosive” nouns and adjectives to attract attention, as practiced by 24-hour news channels to puff up drivel!). It seems that there is a disagreement over the biological origin of altruism. Why do humans help other humans for no apparent benefit to themselves? Some argue that there is a societal factor in altruism, in that people are forced to live with one another. Biologists argue that it is deeper and has to do with such things as natural selection and propagation of species. Does anyone besides evolutionary biologists care?
Later in the day, I found myself standing in line at a grocery store and was confronted with the true nature of humans: every man for himself. Watch what happens when people are lined up at a store, bank, or airline check-in and not all terminals are occupied, so the lines move slowly. The moment a new terminal/cash register is opened, people from the rear of the lines (the last to arrive) immediately rush to prevent those who have arrived earlier their rightful place (according to rules of polite society) from beating them. Happens every time.
It is also interesting to observe national character in lining up (queuing in England). The English politely form a line, whether at a bus stop or shop. German lines resemble a rugby scrum, with everyone pushing to the front. There is no shame in edging out someone less bold and getting served ahead of one’s rightful turn. In Germany, everything is allowed which is not specifically prohibited by law. There is no law against butting in line, even if rules of society might frown upon such behavior. This is a case for biologists, who understand the rule of survival of the fittest, whether it be gene or human.
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Prior to writing novels, the author enjoyed a multifaceted career: from decorated combat aviator to advertising professional to global communications director of a major consumer brand. He has traveled the world and met sports, film and television stars, political leaders, and royalty. He graduated from Middlebury College, is married, lives in Germany, and has two grown children.