David Brooks new op-ed in the NY Times has one of my pet peeves embedded inside.
"...Evolution is always about competition, but for humans, as Darwin speculated, competition among groups has turned us into pretty cooperative, empathetic and altruistic creatures — at least within our families, groups and sometimes nations."
Evolution is not about competition, and it's that very misconception that has caused countless debates about evolution to go absolutely haywire. Evolution is a matter of adaptation. I'm not a scientific genius, but I think that's a key distinction. The word competition implies that a form of life that has superior strength will win out over something that is less strong. It's an inherently capitalist view of biology, and its a view that has infected some of the worst thinking humankind has committed to its institutions.
Evolution, according to what I understand, rewards not strength, but usefulness. It's a matter of what works. The question isn't what makes your species simply durable, but what is a functional adaptation based on your environment. Evolution is systemic trial and error, and the idea that "what survives is stronger than what doesn't" applies a uniquely human, particularly ugly morality to what is essentially just a process of figuring out "wings" or "no wings;" "long nose" or "short nose;" "large leaves" or "light leaves."
That is all.
- Matthew Freeman is a Brooklyn based playwright with a BFA from Emerson College. His plays include THE DEATH OF KING ARTHUR, REASONS FOR MOVING, THE GREAT ESCAPE, THE AMERICANS, THE WHITE SWALLOW, AN INTERVIEW WITH THE AUTHOR, THE MOST WONDERFUL LOVE, WHEN IS A CLOCK, GLEE CLUB, THAT OLD SOFT SHOE and BRANDYWINE DISTILLERY FIRE. He served as Assistant Producer and Senior Writer for the live webcast from Times Square on New Year's Eve 2010-2012. As a freelance writer, he has contributed to Gamespy, Premiere, Complex Magazine, Maxim Online, and MTV Magazine. His plays have been published by Playscripts, Inc., New York Theatre Experience, and Samuel French.