The most recent episode of RadioLab was all about generousness, altruism, and compassion. Succinctly, they summarized finding of several studies that seemed to show that, “An eye for an eye” or the Hebrew law of “The punishment should not exceed the crime” and Jesus’ assertion that one should, “Offer the other cheek also” are biologically hardwired within us. Just as the gazzel is fast, and the cheetah is spotted, we have evolved to be compassionate on biological level. This is why we do altruistic things such as stop to help those in need, offer directions, and feed the poor. This is why heroes burst into burning buildings despite their own peril. Test after test have seem to indicate that even in a world filled with self centered individuals, the latent characteristic of compassion and generosity will rise to the surface, and become the norm. The researcher found that most people’s guiding principle is to be firm most of time, but when they see an opportunity to be generous, they will take it.

What a comforting thought. Biologically we have adapted through natural selection to be mostly good, kind, generous, altruistic, and compassionate. It gives me hope for the human race. Given the chance we will be good.

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