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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Human (Nature) 2.0

    Simply put, Charles Darwin has changed the perception of the natural world. In every school you attend, every hospital where you receive care and every zoo you visit, you will see the effects that one man from the 19th century distinguished as natural selection, the basis for evolution and the modern sciences as we know them.

    However, the majority of Americans are unaware of the social effects and history behind the movement that shapes our society, as capitalists and as a welfare state. It was an idea that predated the Darwinian concept of evolution itself, and has pulled scientific theory from evolution to genetic coding to create a view which many scientists describe as pseudo-science. It has been used to justify eugenics, colonialism and a wide divide between the rich and the poor. It has been employed by many, from philanthropists such as Andrew Carnegie to extremists such as Adolf Hitler. Ladies and gentlemen, I introduce you to a system of being you experience every day: social Darwinism.

    According to this system, the “”survival of the fittest”” concept that you apply to rabbits and coyotes is equally applicable to the human race. The poor and the sick are less adept than the rich and skilled, so they are at the bottom of the social ladder. In a society centered around social Darwinism, those who can’t fend for themselves are weak and therefore do not deserve to thrive.

    “”So,”” says the reader, “”What does this have to do with me? Why does this matter now?””

    Far from an archaic notion brought to prominence in the 19th century under robber barons and the wealthy elite, we still live with the effects of a society where “”might makes right.”” We idolize celebrities like Anna Kournikova and Paris Hilton for their fame and wealth over their talents and do not question their philanthropy. We battle between neoconservative and liberal viewpoints over state welfare, and while President Bush tries to reform Social Security and No Child Left Behind is failing our schools, the merits of such programs make us question whether or not this outpour of tax dollars is “”really worth it.””

    In our everyday lives, we are surrounded by choices that pull us between what we feel we are morally obligated to do and what we inherently want to do. When we think of the AIDS epidemic in Africa, we can buy (RED) products or we can say it’s not America’s concern. When hurricanes ravish the Southern U.S., we can encourage the government to send aid to those left behind or scoff at the people who blatantly ignore evacuation orders. When people develop diabetes due to lifestyle choices or hereditary causes, we can fund health care reform programs through tax dollars or adopt a laissez-faire attitude.

    It is easy to think that Social Darwinism removes us from societal responsibility. It allows us to focus on our individual success and not be burdened with “”the weaker links”” in our society. Following this train of thought, the society we live in is a dog-eat-dog world in which you have to do what is necessary to survive.

    If you allow yourself to live by this mantra, ironically, you are setting yourself up for failure.

    The fact of the matter is that we are all interconnected. We rely on each other for growth and change, and by adopting the attitude that some human beings are less fit than others, you deprive yourself of being human. Honestly, no one is perfect. We all can’t be the fastest, strongest and smartest; we each have flaws. By combining our diverse talents, we help not only ourselves but each other and ultimately society as a whole.

    On the other hand, if AIDS goes untreated in Africa, the epidemic will spread to other parts of the world. If aid wasn’t sent to Galveston, the economy and oil industry would have taken a dive. If health care is not reformed, it affects you, the athlete with a broken leg, as much as it affects the obese man with type 2 diabetes.

    Don’t live within absolutes: Accept the fact that we all have to deal with each other. It may be inconvenient to pay taxes toward public education if you attend a private school or to restore an area of town that you have never seen, but in the end it benefits the society as a whole. In the end, you, me, him, her – we are the society and we can rise together or fall together.

    – Jessica Fraser is a freshman majoring in political science and journalism. She can be reached at letters@wildcat.arizona.edu.

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