The Role of Altruism in Media and Human Evolution

This article first appeared at KosmosJournal.org as part of their Reader Essay Series

Our humanity is at a critical point. Technological advances have largely been applied toward selfish, single-minded agendas that benefit a select few and have a devastating impact upon the environment on which we depend. Meanwhile, the proliferation of mass media technology has further separated us from the natural world and the way we perceive the ‘Other’ and has helped shape a reality dominated by materialistic values, which denigrate our physical and spiritual existences. With the new scientific discovery of evolutionary processes that result in altruistic behavior (the new ‘Evolutionary Altruism paradigm’), we have a solid tool that can challenge this misguided mainstream thinking.

In human consciousness, altruism is a key part of the ethical fabric regarding our larger intelligence of higher purpose. The altruistic tendency for collaboration, caring, connection, and love are an evolutionary manifestation of our highest moral capacities. As Albert Einstein said, “our feeling of separation from the whole of the universe is a kind of optical illusion from which we must free ourselves by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creation and the whole of nature in its beauty.” Emanuel Kant, one of the world’s greatest philosophers, said in his famous Critique of Pure Reason, that moral law is a priori. It is a human instinct to do the right thing even if sacrificing our own wellbeing. Sacrifice, an element of spirituality and morality, is one of the highest principles in humanity, an indicator that altruism is aligned with an inherent moral source and a sense of higher purpose.

By being of benefit to others or the environment, one contributes to and thrives in a healthy culture with a common goal. This is juxtaposed with the shortsighted, personal gains of material goods and power that characterize an unhealthy and unfriendly environment. Altruism is an expression of innate but often repressed tendencies to belong and to feel one with all—observable in people, animals, and plants.

Collaboration and caring for others and our environment are part of both an evolutionary threshold and an awakening in consciousness, in which we see that past behaviors have been destructive and unsustainable. In the deepest sense, altruism is both the part of evolution striving for a healthy, higher complexity, and the part of evolution that comprises adaptation, the fundamental driver of all evolutionary processes. Therefore, altruism is now more crucial than ever for human survival. It is apparent that today’s ecological, political, and economic crises are in so many ways caused by the dominance of selfish blindness. Conversely, altruistic processes ensure survival by increasing harmony, meaning, justice, peace, and wholeness.

Media and Altruism
Globalization and the use of media are intensified by our urge to promote togetherness and know more about each other and the rest of nature. Media manifests on a pre-existing invisible thread, a network of interconnectivity and love for each other. Our sensory systems and awareness naturally expand so that we become conscious of all forms of life and especially of each other as a human family.

Today’s media network is a hologram, the great nervous system of humanity and the global brain of society. In this forum, all the spiritual, emotional, and intellectual components of humanity, including our pathologies, are projected.

Much of media today has been used for selfish, profit-driven agendas—promoting raw emotions, consumerism, and propaganda. We are now shifting toward using media for more altruistic and higher purposes: to help us connect and build humanity into a community at one with nature. David Sloan Wilson’s book, Does Altruism Exist?, shows evolutionary processes and structures in nature similar to those now taking place in media, such as the building of new networks that support the whole, grounded on principles of ethics and values. Higher consciousness serves to evolve humanity and heart intelligence as a compass to navigate through challenges and find sustainable solutions.

Media, at the same time, raises awareness of global, environmental, social, and political problems and presents us with a self-image that highlights the impact of our actions within a larger context. As such, we are compelled to shift from single-minded, selfish ways to recognizing our human purpose on global and cosmic levels. Only collaboration, harmony, and respect for all forms of life can secure our survival and healthy evolution.

With all the powerful ways media can impact our humanity—the way we feel and the decisions we make—we must take advantage of its great potential to amplify our power to change the world and humanity for the better. With this emerging evolutionary shift to a new level of human consciousness, media can transcend artificial boundaries and organically build a new foundation for our common purpose and vision.

Throughout history, we have always had enlightened and highly evolved individuals. However, creating evolutionary and ecological media will add tremendous potency to the collective transformation that is needed and will provide a platform for altruistic action and advancement and, ultimately, elevate the overall consciousness of humanity.