We’re Born to Help
Everyday I look at the news, I hear something tragic, tumultuous and sad. It usually has to do with someone doing something. We become jaded and then desensitized. I wonder: Can we not trust anyone? Are we as humans flawed?
Dr. Michael Tomasello, a developmental psychologist and co-director of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany says that infants can see an unrelated adult, with their hands full, trying to open a door, etc. they will immediately reach out to help.
Frans de Waal, a primatologist, has a similar view to Dr. Tomasello as expressed in his book, “The Age of Empathy.” Dr. de Waal notes, “We’re preprogrammed to reach out. Empathy is an automated response over which we have limited control.”
No doubt, empathy builds trust, appreciation, reduces tension and can often create a beneficial environment for working out problems. It’s innate, but where do we lose our sense of self, the willingness to give, or the lack of emotion that allows us to hurt others so freely?
Dr. de Waal speaks for his trust in science, “I’d argue that biology constitutes our greatest hope…”
I’m a realist, I’m not so sure I trust in the biological hope. But I’d like to try.
Science aside, do you believe humans have an innate natural inclination to help? Or are we selfish from the get go?