We can observe ants busying themselves in their continual struggle for survival. They live in a world that knows nothing of our human existence. They know nothing of the world beyond their defined territory.
If they did know of us, they would consider us as an almighty force that is able to significantly impact on their lives. We would be a God-like, omnipotent, commanding ruler. We could control their world and, for the most part, they would have no idea what was happening to them.
It is this perspective that gives many of us our own view on life. We believe that there is something bigger and more powerful that has control over our lives. For some, it may be an almighty God; for others, it may be alien creatures that use us as some sort of astral plaything.
And, of course, as our scientific knowledge expands the more our position in the universe is put into perspective. Not only do we become increasingly aware of the size of the universe, but we also begin to realise how insignificant a part of it we probably are. Who knows what’s really beyond our world?
This unknown, this uncertainty as to our station in the universe perplexes and torments us. And so, we search for answers. We push at the boundaries of knowledge and explanation in order to hopefully gain some valuable insight. We endeavour to try to find who our controlling masters might be through such things as space exploration and religious study.
But perhaps, rather misguided, we are looking in the wrong direction? The world isn’t controlled by something out there. On the contrary, it is controlled by something much closer to home.
I would suggest that the governing force of our lives is our genes. They are the true masters of the universe. We exist for their calling. They make us behave as we do; they use us to achieve their ends. We may very well be their slaves.
Although we like to think of ourselves as an independent, free force, we are not self-determining creatures. Far from it. We are governed and controlled by our genetic masters. Quite simply, we do as we are told. We live for their well-being and for their future.
Our genes exist for two reasons: firstly, to secure their continued existence and secondly, to better themselves. It is with this in mind that they make us behave the way we do. We are vessels for their continued existence. And we live to serve their advantage. We ensure that they continue to prosper.
Understanding our relationship with our genes, recognising that we are mere slaves to their requests will help us to understand and rationalise our individual behaviours.
What makes us attracted to one person rather than another?
The person that we desire is the person that will contribute something to our genetic advantage. They have some appeal that will enhance our genetic future.
Why do we have such a devotion and commitment to our children?
They are the vessels of the future. Once our bodies start to decay, an alternative container is required. The design and delivery of new vessels is also the mechanism by which genes secure their on-going development and consequent survival.
Why is it that in most circumstances the individual will always override the community?
The community exists to protect the human species from the forces of nature; the individual exists to protect genes from being eclipsed or surpassed by other genes. More often than not, we will act in our own self-interest. This is the power of our genes to ensure that we will prioritise our own survival, and in so doing ensure that we will not jeopardise their existence.
How can we explain our behaviour when it may seem irrational or confused?
Human beings sometimes behave in ways that may not, seemingly, have any apparent genetic logic – gay relationships, childless couples, abortion….. Although we can try to claim an understanding of genetic behaviour, we are mere novices in knowing its motivations, reasoning and perspective. Similarly, what might not be in our human best interests – marital affairs, criminal activity, suicide – may actually be advantageous for our genes.
What are the limits of genetic governance?
Quite frankly, we have no idea. Not yet anyway.
For some of us that may be an uncomfortable thought. We don’t always like to admit our inadequacies or weaknesses, that things are not within our control. Generally, we hate to think that there is a bigger, more significant world out there. We prefer to think of ourselves as playing the lead role; we like to be the star of the show; we want the spotlight to focus on us.
We may like to think of ourselves as our own masters. But it is not so. We are mere pawns in a much bigger game. That game is played by and controlled by our genes.
© Copyright Steve Oxley, 2020.