Tuesday 29 November 2011

Race to the bottom, anyone?

This advert really got me when it came through the letterbox a few weeks ago. Why on earth would I want to buy something simply to provide me with an excuse for laughing at my neighbours for not having one?

Humans have evolved as social animals, and the benefits of cooperation have allowed us to build complex interwoven societies that rely on us working together.

Every time we’re exhorted to see ourselves wholly as individuals, antagonistic to our neighbours, communities and society, “in it” only for ourselves, we erode those very attributes that make our species so successful. Laughing at our neighbours who may not have what we have, mocking hapless contestants in reality TV shows, chasing enviously after “celebrities” and then gleefully celebrating as they crash and burn – these things make us less than we should be, as the Leverson enquiry shows. If nothing else, you can be sure that if you’re mocking someone, someone else will be mocking you for all the things you don’t have. The race to the bottom benefits no-one.

If we are going to get through the various crises facing us, whether they be economic, social, political or environmental, we need to work together. We need to start thinking of ourselves as individuals within a society, looking out for each other as well as ourselves. Until we do that, we’ll always be alone.

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