Debt Creates Stress - Stress Trumps Empathy for 'Others' - But There are No 'Others', Only Us

Animal alturism, seems they understand there are no 'others'

In separate tests in mice and people, empathy towards strangers increased when stress hormones were blocked by a drug. Dr Jeffrey Mogil, study author and neuro-scientist from McGill University in Montreal, Canada, said his team's findings suggest that the stress system in the brain can have a 'veto' on our empathy system." He also said "it was intriguing that the impact of stress on empathy appeared to be identical in mice and humans."

The researcher's unspkoken reliance on an unconscious cultural bias that is conditioned by endless babble about our human exceptionality and dominion over the globe which has lead humanity to the brink of collapse spiritually and economically. We could once again become an ongoing partner in the biosphere if humans understood that, as Naomi Klein says, "We are really in a spiritual crisis. The idea of humans having a divine right to dominate the earth and being outside the community of living things and living systems is at the heart of the crisis.” Adding, "It does necessitate a new understanding — or an older understanding — of our role in the world. One that says, no, we were never free from nature, nor should we be. Without this spiritual revolution no other changes matter to our human destiny."

Considering that we - the flora, fauna, microbes, minerals, forces and faeries - are all part of one biosphere, one life, who then is this 'other'? Where ever we look there is no other, just us.

We are all proven to be hard wired with empathy and compassion by mirror neurons which fire both when an animal acts and when the animal observes the same action performed by another by the firing of mirror neurons. This type of neuron 'mirrors' the behavior it sees as though the observer were itself acting. Dogs, for instance, have been shown to possess the highest ratio of mirror neurons among all the creatures tested so far. One day i have no doubt that this capacity will be proven to be universal.

The growing knowledge and eventual acceptance of others' altruistic behavior should have deep implications for how we interact with nature generally. There have been decades of experimentation proving moral or altruistic qualities in non-human primates, and also provide support for the idea that human morality is innate. A 1964 study found that rhesus monkeys who could pull on a chain to acquire food would refuse to pull for days if doing so delivered a shock to another monkey; they were “literally starving themselves to avoid inflicting pain upon another” (de Waal 2006).

Many anthropologists argue that altruism is an ancient impulse and an empathic instinct; something more primitive than culture and, in fact, considerably more ancient than the human species itself. They posit that altruism is deeply innate, predating the phylogentic split that occurred six million years ago. According to them selflessness is as natural as appetite.

How did any species, let alone all of us, evolve such ethical qualities as empathy and compassion, in the first place? [often called Darwin's Paradox] Answer: Cultural evolution favors groups. Turns out, it was empathy and altruism that allowed cultural evolution and the evolution of compassion in the first place. Turns out, there are no 'others'.

Which brings me to how the importance of empathy in our daily lives. So many people live lives dominated by the voices of fear and stress they are unable to hear those of compassion and empathy inside us all competing for our attention even in our most stressful moments. A wonderful and moving example of how our empathy can lead us to a much better world was shared by a long time friend after reading the BBC piece on mice and men:

"Nothing surprises me in this article.  For starters, I have known about the feelings of mice ever since Domino [her cat] trapped one when I was living at Camelia.  When I held him back and removed the board behind which the mouse was hiding, I discovered that the mouse had started to cry.  I had no idea mice could cry.  Ever since that time, I have done my utmost to ensure the safety and health of mice - not always possible when you have a cat, but I try."