How We Developed Greediness

I have always had an interest as to why humans have the certain basic instincts to act the way they do, subconsciously. In other words, why do humans generally share particular traits, when it comes to how our brain is wired? More specifically, greed seems to be more of a universal human trait, as everyone tends to share similar temptations, no matter whereabouts you are on earth.

While reading the popular book ‘The Selfish Gene’ by Richard Dawkins, I suddenly developed an understanding as to why humans share this common trait of greed. The Selfish Gene discusses how humans have evolved to cater themselves and themselves only, specifically their own genes. Relating this to greed, it becomes obvious why humans have developed this trait through millions of years.

Richard Dawkins expresses that everything humans do in their day to day life is for the benefit, and therefore the survival, of themselves, even when acting altruistic to one and other. With this in mind, for humans to act generously towards other humans versus acting greedily, it is obvious which trait would be more beneficial, to the point where the genes who act greedily would have a much greater evolutionary advantage as opposed to those who act in an altruistic fashion.

Just because greed is an evolutionary trait, and therefore is wired into our brains, does not mean that it is socially acceptable  to act this way in the 21st century. In fact, as we all know, it is an admirable trait to act in the exact opposite manner. Throughout time, humanity has come to recognise that acting selfish and greedy is in fact less beneficial to us all, than acting altruistic and generous to one another. We are coming to the realisation that working together and being generous to those who are generous to us is significantly more beneficial to everyone in the long term, rather than yielding short term satisfaction from acting in a selfish way, such as stealing something.

For selfishness and greediness to be eradicated from society, and for an individual to learn to be generous, could benefit individuals all over the world, as well as benefit the individual itself.


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