Altruism and empathy are the new and most important currency, writes Paul Sutton.
I donate blood because I want to; a bit of me feels that I ought to, making some regular deposits in exchange for all the withdrawals we've made, but I'm not obliged to do so. I don't get a summons in the post requiring my attendance, or showing my balance sheet of how much blood I still owe. And if I did, I imagine I would feel less warm and satisfied about donating; indeed, probably quite resentful.
We have gone against billions of years of evolution to normalise an attitude of individualism, of narcissism, and of greed, and all of the evidence suggests that it is not good for us. So why do we do it exactly? If altruism is in our nature, why are we all so selfish?
The individual and the 'clan' is all we humans have - take the latter away and you can't be surprised when people act according to their own rules. Now is a time to pull together. Now is a time to listen. And now is a time to try and mediate our differences. Because if we don't - the evolutionary ties that bind us all will fall away, leaving behind only segregation, hatred, and violence.
Evolutionary theory would be compatible with altruism if we could expect the same in return. One monkey picks the parasites from the back of his monkey friend, then his monkey friend returns the favor. But it is hard to see how the 'you scratch my back, I'll scratch yours' gene could ever gain dominance in the first place.
An Iraq/Syria-based adherent of the self-proclaimed "Islamic State In Iraq and Al-Sham" terrorist group has been caught out online complaining about 'missing Starbucks' coffee. While seemingly trivial, the complaint actually offers a remarkable and rare insight into the entitled, privileged, westernised and deeply selfish mindset of ISIS's followers.
I'm a parent of a daughter on the autistic spectrum and I've been through the agonies of being stared at, feeling completely alone, being called a bad parent and the terrible guilty relief of a diagnosis...