Daily Archives: January 7th, 2010

Impulsively acting on my values

These two amoebas walk into a bar …

OK, maybe you’ve heard that one already. I won’t bore everyone with the rest of the joke or the punchline.

Note: This post will not be biologically accurate. Bio-geeks, please feel free to correct me all you want, but that’s not the point. 🙂

What is it about the friendly amoeba I find so interesting? In short, it is a totally self-centered organism. You put two amoebas in competition for a single source of food (or whatever they eat) and it is game on! The fastest amoeba gets the worm. They don’t stand on ceremony, worry about what some other amoeba will think or feel about their greediness, nor will they feel bad or offer any apologies. May the best amoeba win!

The amoeba that gets the food grows stronger. The amoeba that doesn’t grows weaker. I love the smell of competition in the morning! And that’s the way things are truly meant to be.

And guess what? As humans in corporeal form, we are most comprised of organic thingies similar in nature. Maybe not amoebas themselves, but things fairly similar, I imagine, like cells. I can’t imagine two cells standing around discussing mitosis and applying their values to determine who gets what.

Of course, some humans act exactly like amoebas. They act on any impulse they feel no matter what. We pretty much call these folks “sociopaths.” Most of us, however, are a bit more civilized than that. Barely.

Would a civilization of humans acting exactly like amoebas be a good idea? I think not. I think what most of us call “humanity” could be construed as intelligence allowing for some restrictions on the range of all possible behaviors. You might consider these “restrictions” to be things like laws, morals, values, ethics, mores, manners, politeness, courtesy, or what have you.

I personally feel that a society based on every individual acting only on self-interest is a very, very bad thing. Not a place where I’d want to live. There has to be something more than that. The question is: Just how far can you take that? Where do you draw the line? To me, the answer is one hell of a lot farther than we Americans take it right now. The real question is: Can we figure out a way to get there? Or will we end up collectively cutting our own throats?

OK, I lied. I’m going to go ahead and give up the punchline. Enjoy!

I said, “your plasm,” not “orgasm!”