Survival of the fittest, a phrase born from the Darwinian evolutionary theory to demonstrate the system of natural selection. Darwin termed this as “Survival of the form that will leave the most copies of itself in successive generations.” Herbert Spencer first used this phrase to draw parallels with Darwin’s theory of natural selection. Basically, the gist of it is that the strongest and the smartest survive while the rest perish or are forgotten. But does this apply to humans? After all we also part of the eco-system of this planet.
Back in the early ages, the concept of “survival of the fittest” was applicable to humans as well. The strongest males or so-called “warriors” would rule and get the most mates, propagating their genes while the weaker individuals were often ignored or left to do the more menial chores. However, the modern man is vastly different from his prehistoric ancestors in pretty much every aspect.
These days people born with disabilities may face a fair bit of discrimination, but it’s still way better than what they had to put up with in the past. They can get an education, jobs, have a family and live rather respectable lives. This was not possible a few centuries back.
Similarly, people who are usually termed as “delinquents” aren’t shunned from society. Sure, they may be avoided by many, but they still manage to claw their way through life.
Furthermore, it’s not just the people with the highest IQs who excel in their respective fields but individuals with significantly lower intelligence also climb the ladders of hierarchy either by sheer hard-work or with the support of friends and family.
Dinosaurs may be extinct, but many present organisms like the modern day whales, crocodiles as well as birds have evolved from the now non-existent reptiles. All these creatures survived because of their ability to adapt coupled with a fair deal of resilience.
Humans aren’t the only mammals who form communities. Wolves, dolphins and certain species of apes also live in well-knit communities where although the strongest get to rule, the weaker members are taken care of and protected from predators. However, it’s by no means comparable to the human society. If people with terminal illnesses or disabilities were born as any other creatures, they would have been abandoned and left to die, just as Darwin’s theory of natural dictates.
Humans seem to be not only defying the theory of natural selection, but contradicting it. Many people with disabilities or genetic defects are now called gifted individuals and they do way better than the average person in certain fields.
So what does this mean? Is the phrase, “survival of the fittest” not applicable to humans? To some extent, yes, but it largely fails to apply to the species as a whole, as even recessive genes are propagated due to a multitude of reasons.
Now, I don’t quite believe in “god” or a being controlling the universe. It’s a possibility that someone or something kicked off the process but the existence of a supreme being looking over us is largely based on folk tales and legends. There are however, systems in at least our planet that regulate the various factors allowing the existence of life.
Human interference has disturbed these systems in more ways than one- global warming, extinction of thousands of species, destruction of numerous eco-systems and so on. At this rate, after a century or two, humans will be the only species left on planet Earth. So, maybe it is survival of the fittest after all, but the fact that we humans possess complex emotions like empathy and love makes us the finest product of evolution.
There’s one matter however, Earth won’t be able to sustain us forever. Sooner or later we’ll have to look for new habitats, in this galaxy or the next. But it won’t be all of us who will get the privilege to escape before our planet finally gives in. And when everyone’s desperate and fighting for survival, the phrase, “survival of the fittest” will once again kick in and filter out the weak and unworthy.