There are, for purposes of this post, two types of people.
One type views life as a competition for limited resources, a dog-eat-dog struggle in which the top dog deserves the choicest pieces of meat, because without their leadership the pack would have no meat at all. In this view, dominance is proof of innate superiority. Pack members too sick, stupid, or slow to hunt must either survive on scraps or die. Even the loss of a few otherwise worthy individuals is just a cold hard fact of nature.
The other type believes that our heritage of savagery doesn’t define us. That humankind is adaptive, even transcendent, expanding our knowledge and understanding to discover and implement unlimited new resources. And that one of those resources is people themselves. That most of the sick, stupid, or slow can be nurtured to contribute. And that feeding a few deadbeats is a small price to pay for getting a deserving person through hard times.
It is not my purpose here to debate which view is more valid. Evidence for either abounds, depending on where our sight focuses.
Visit a public food pantry and you’ll certainly find a lot of ugly, stupid people it seems the race could do without. Or watch the tabloid parade of disgrace across the TV screen with Maury Povich or Jerry Springer.
On the other hand, in that food pantry you’ll also find folk obviously deserving of charity, with whom life has dealt unfairly. Families financially ruined by medical debt, or by loss of their trade, or simply unable to find work sufficient for their needs. Beyond that food pantry, count the number of military veterans now homeless, sleeping in the streets they fought to protect.
Again, it is not my purpose to debate which of these views is more valid. I would like, however, to point out what seem to me a few inconsistencies with the first.
Oddly, the camp of limited resources seems least likely to conserve those resources. It weakens environmental protection standards, often simply by underfunding their enforcement. It doubts scientific consensus on climate change, preferring to err on the side of risk for business sake, rather than exercise caution.
Justifiably, the dog-eat-dog camp is also most vocal about religion, whether Western, Middle-Eastern, or even state-enforced Eastern atheism. In this view, religion (or atheism) provides a codification of behaviors to keep stupid, lazy people from destroying civilization from within.
But oddly, the choice of texts cited seems inconsistent with a dog-pack, limited resources viewpoint.
Consider the prime figure of Christianity, the Christ from which it takes its name: “I tell you, don’t be anxious for your life: what you will eat, or what you will drink; nor yet for your body, what you will wear” (Matthew 6:25). Granted, this is not the only teaching in the book, but it’s an undeniable statement by the utterly central personage, a statement that must be confronted and somehow obeyed, or the entire book falls into question.
Or these words by the central personage of Islam: “Kindness is a mark of faith, and whoever has not kindness has not faith,” and “The ink of the scholar is more sacred than the blood of the martyr.” Again, these are not the only statements of Muhammad, but they cannot be downplayed or ignored for the sake of militancy.
Or the paradox of communist atheism’s party-enforced orthodoxy, in light of these words by its patron Karl Marx: “For each new class which puts itself in the place of one ruling before it, is compelled, merely in order to carry through its aim, to represent its interest as the common interest of all the members of society.”
Again, it is not my purpose here to debate the comparative validity of dog-eat-dog competition versus open-handedness. But it’s likely obvious which of the two I find unsuitable. And by contrast, which gives me the most hope for the future.