Survival of the fittest?

Published 5:24 pm Saturday, November 16, 2002

By By Lloyd Albritton
About a hundred years ago, Charles Darwin put forth a theory called "the survival of the fittest" in an extensive and controversial treatise entitled The Origin of the Species. Most rich Republicans today believe they represent the "fit," and that if we should take all the wealth in the world and evenly redistribute it among all men in equal portions, it would only be a short time before the wealth would end up right back in the hands of those who held it to start with, allegedly lending credence to the correctness of Darwin's theory.
I believe Darwin, and the rich Republicans, might be right. We may argue the point as to how the formerly rich would accomplish this counter-redistribution result, whether by stealing the money back, or cheating the naive out of their rightful endowments, or simply by means of legitimate, but shrewd, business practices. Whatever! It would surely happen. It would happen because these fitter individuals would overpower their weaker brethren in some way and would take their wealth back by the same survivalist means by which they hogged all the wealth to begin with.
Men are not that much different from dogs in this respect. A big dog and a little dog may play happily and friendly in the yard together, but if the master should throw a big, juicy steak between them, the big dog will take the whole thing. He will eat all he can gorge himself with, and when he is filled he will hide what's left for a later snack for himself, having no regard whatsoever for the little dog's welfare.
On occasion, the little dog may turn out to be meaner and more aggressive than the big dog, in which case, the little dog will do the same thing. If left to their own inherent standards of conduct, that is, without human supervision, the bigger, or the meaner, dogs will always take the bulk of all food treasures, leaving little or nothing for the weaker. The dominant dog will lick his chops and lay down for a nap and sleep like a rock with nary a feeling of compassion or guilt on the weaker dog's account. Now, it seems morally wrong for dogs to behave this way, but does God intercede to correct this seeming injustice by changing the nature of dogs? No, He doesn't. At least I've never seen it! In fact, I would suppose that God Himself made dogs this way for some divine reason and for the overall good of the dog kingdom. What precisely that reason is, I do not know.
Recorded history would indicate that men have always behaved in a similar way, whether over a piece of meat or a piece of land. Bigger, stronger men with bigger, stronger armies have always run roughshod over weaker men. As time has gone on, however, smaller, weaker men have developed and employed intellectual superiority and technology to outsmart and overpower physically stronger men. Nowadays the smart little twirp might well be the man in charge of everything and with all the good stuff while the big strong weaker-minded fellows do all the heavy lifting and eat their mush in the kitchen.
It seems like a little fellow who has fought his way to the top of his game would have more compassion, understanding and generosity toward the weak than would the big man, simply because, being little and weak himself (speaking of the physical sense), he would naturally identify more with the little and weak of the world. But, we all know this is not true. No matter how humble a man's origins, when he gains wealth and/or power, he changes! It seems to be in the nature of man to do this very thing.
Having been indoctrinated in Christian religious philosophy, it was my belief in my younger years that man's corruption resulting from the alleged Garden of Eden fruit-eating incident was strictly a physical thing, that is, that all mankind became mortal and would no longer live forever, but would now eventually die a physical death. As to the corruption of man's soul, his nature, if you will, I believed that man's behavior was left a matter of purely personal choice between good and evil, not being inherently predisposed toward one or the other.
Although I was made aware, through discourse with friends of different religious persuasion, that the most prevailing Christian theological view is that man is, indeed, inherently inclined toward evil, I nevertheless resisted that view for most of my life, choosing to believe instead that to acknowledge such a proclivity in man's nature was nothing more than to embrace a handy excuse for bad behavior. This excuse is often expressed as "the devil made me do it."
My personal experiences and observations during the course of my life have caused me to change my views on this matter. I am not happy about this. I would much prefer to believe in the inherent nobility and altruism of man, but I am compelled to believe otherwise. Whether one subscribes to the evolutionary development of man or to the divine creation, no one can reasonably deny the abundant evidence that man is self-centered and survivalist by his very nature.
Yet, the supreme power of the thinking, reasoning human mind provides an escape from the abyss of human degradation, and notwithstanding the acknowledged moral drag on the soul of every man, every one of us with minimal thinking, reasoning human brain powers has the power to choose right over wrong, so that not only the fit may survive, but also the unfit. That is the difference between dogs and men. As for Republicans and Democrats, I don't think there are too many differences.
Lloyd Albritton is a columnist for the Atmore Advance. He also publishes a series of commentaries on the Internet entitled The Albritton Letters at Lloyd may be contacted at

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