While some philosophers might argue that the nature of Man must be either good or evil, the actual nature of Man lies in a much more primal mindset, one of survival. No longer at risk of being prey to a larger predatory animal, Manís definition of survival has been broadened and diversified. Subconsciously reminded of the fragility and mortality of his existence, Manís need to perpetuate himself becomes the desire to protect himself, defend his ideas and support his kin, very likely in that order if any.
The attitude of putting personal interest before anything else has been a survival technique for eons, ensuring the process of natural selection. Darwin becoming less relevant to the physical survival of humans, personal interest also becomes more diversified. Generally, one would be challenged to find a person without interest in their own material wealth, in indulgences and pleasure. People equate personal wealth with reliability, a personal security of their future. Thus, it is wealth that leads to a lifestyle less concerned with the issues of others than the wants of the self. In America, our society mirrors this self-concerned attitude through its media and advertising, glorifying materialism and personal contentment through a forced attitude. While seemingly a basic instinct, the desire to perpetuate our self through our offspring goes beyond that. We realize that we will not be around forever; therefore we try hard to imprint ourselves upon our children, often without regard to their own feelings. We want to be immortal, or short of that, leave a recycling copy of our self to face future generations. Another desire of the personal self is respect of oneís peers, deserved or not. While some refuse to admit it, we place incredible value on what other people think of us. We change ourselves, our minds, bodies and environment just to fit in with the group. We disregard old ways at the drop of a hat just to ensure our social survival, indicating a rampant underlying herd mentality.
Personal survival accomplished, we turn our attention next to survival of our philosophies, generally believing them to be superior to all others until proven otherwise. Humility is somewhat of a misnomer, often mistaken for the condition of being uncomfortable with an environment. Given a familiar setting, most people who might normally be inverted become quite verbose and unabashed. Those who are comfortable preaching their philosophies often turn to politics and seek positions of power. They believe that they know what is best for the masses and look to impart their wisdom upon them, another survival strategy, although uniquely of the mind. This explains criticism in all its manifestations from the nagging of a parent to the interests of a nation. When nations collide, provided the dispute is not over material wealth, the cause is generally a conflict of culture, each side believing its own philosophies superior. From the crusades to the current conflict in Iraq, nations will always look upon opposing cultures as a threat to their own and will attack or repel each other with fervor.
Survival may also be expanded to include altruism, the practice of protecting other in order to ensure survival of the group. We are very quick to support our friends; most especially those who already happen to be closely related by either blood or mind. No matter what our differences are, we are generally eager to boost those we are closest to when threatened by an agitator. Bonding is force to be reckoned with. As we support our families, we also join together with those with whom we have relatively few common ties when threatened by an even more foreign element. Patriotism may grip a country, raising young adults to sacrifice their lives for their home. Always, there is a bigger fish that forces the smaller fish to settle their differences and band together. If a civilization from a distant world were to appear suddenly and threaten our planet, we would undoubtedly experience the first case of global peace in the history of Man, simply because of one common attribute.
We are all citizens of the earth, yet our world has by necessity become very small for most of us. At the instinctive level, Man still feels the urge to protect himself or his kin against the next level of threat, ensuring survival of his way of life. History, as they say, was written by the winners.