A Problem Shared Is A Problem Halved, Or So They Say.


Why do some have so much while others have nothing?

Before diving in, let’s consider why we even share at all?

Is it that Earth is over-populated and sharing is the only way to ensure everyone’s needs are met? Or is there an instinct that drives us to seek others happiness?

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Anytime there is a limited set of resources there must be a way to share. In the case of children not sharing, someone will be left unhappy. In the case of the body not sharing oxygen, death is likely.

At the heart, sharing is about relationships.  Look at nature, sharing happens autonomously.

No matter the reason, sharing is a fact of life.  In fact experimental evidence collected by Ernst Fehr & Urs Fischbacher of the University of Zurich, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics, indicates that human altruism is a powerful force and is unique in the animal world.

The act of sharing is deeply embedded in the human psyche as something we have practiced for millennia in our communities and families. Without the gift of sharing and giving, there would be no social foundations upon which to build our economies and civilizations.

Actually, the human tendency to share may have more ancient evolutionary routes than previously thought.  This is according to a study of the performance of chimpanzees in a test called the “ultimatum game”.

Traditionally, the game is employed as a test of economics; two people decide how to divide a sum of money.

This modified game, in which two chimps decided how to divide a portion of banana slices, seems to have revealed the primates’ generous side.

We can come to a better understanding of why it is good to share. Sharing not only helps the beneficiary of the behavior, it benefits the sharer or altruistic party. In fact, sharing food is one of the basic tenets to human society.

On a small group scale this is perhaps easier to perceive. Today we may be somewhat out of touch with many of the members of our society. The reasons for this are multitude and based in the advanced technologies we have developed as a result of our complex systems of division of labor. Still we must understand that sharing with those who we do not know personally, or encounter in our day-to-day experience, is still important.

Most parents would agree that raising a generous child is an admirable goal — but how, exactly, is that accomplished?

All kids love sharing…. as long as that means you have something to share with them. But when it comes time for these little ones to part with some valued treasure of their own, they quickly set aside their passion for equal divisions.

The University of Notre Dame’s Science of Generosity initiative, which funds generosity research around the world, sheds light on how generosity and related behaviors — such as kindness, caring and empathy — develop, or don’t develop, in children from 2 years old through adolescence.

Your son or daughter might know that sharing with others is good behavior, but a University of Michigan study, “I Should but I Won’t: Why Young Children Endorse Norms of Fair Sharing but Do Not Follow Them,” found this doesn’t mean they’re quick to follow their own advice.

The Michigan study revealed that even though children younger than seven years of age thought it was right for their peers to share and for them to share, when faced with an opportunity, their impulse was to take for themselves. According to Craig E. Smith, lead author of the study, “Although 3-year-olds know the norm of equal sharing, the weight that children attach to this norm increases with age when sharing involves a cost to the self.

Are good deeds only driven by an inherent human desire to “look good” in front of others? A German research team seems to confirm theories that behavior meant to enhance reputation — also called “impression management” — is solely a human concern…and the desire to act in accordance of whether or not it will affect reputation is prevalent at an early age.

The study explains, “5-year-old human children share more and steal less when they are being watched by a peer than when they are alone. In contrast, chimpanzees behave the same whether they are being watched by a group mate or not.”

Personally, I think that sometimes it’s okay to be a little selfish— not always, and certainly not as often as you would suppose— but there does exist a time and place when being a little selfish is a greater good than evil.

When it comes to the needs of others we must be selfless, actively seeking ways to help better the world around us. However we must be selfish in the pursuit of ourselves.

Perhaps the problem lies in the label itself, selfish. We are not so much selfish as we are self-absorbed, the age of the Internet teaching us to constantly share of ourselves without ever asking us to explore who we are?

Aha, perhaps we have reached the crux of the problem.

We share everything, stupid minute details about our lives which 20 years ago would have simply been called vanity. We share what we ate for lunch, what we think about. We share everything and nothing all at once, self-absorbed, but not inherently selfish.

Evolutionary theorists have traditionally focused on competition and the ruthlessness of natural selection, but often they have failed to consider a critical fact: that humans could not have survived in nature without the charity and social reciprocity of a group.

Human adults are unique in that they perform what appears to be an inordinate amount of generous behavior.

Giving something up because it makes someone else happy requires a very big mental leap.  This means that we have to gently teach over and over to recognize and value the feelings of others.

If sharing is presented to them as a loss of power (“You must give something up“) rather than as an opportunity to be powerful (“You can choose what or when to share”/”You can help someone be very happy“), they will naturally resist.

Children don’t naturally develop the ability to share just as they don’t wake up one day knowing how to write their own name.

We humans have many traits, which separate us from the rest of the animal kingdom, which we clearly sit at the head of. One of the greatest distinctions and the reason we were able to reign supreme over the rest of the earth’s species is our ability to cooperate in large groups.

Even more primitive groups such as hunter-gatherer have well developed networks of exchange and have evolved sophisticated forms of food-sharing, cooperative hunting, and collective warfare.

Sharing is an innate human quality. It is the way of the human species to share. There is no individual reading this now whose entire life is not thoroughly dependent upon the ideas, language, methods, designs and creations of those who came before us.

Our ability to copy, create and share, which predates the existence of copyright by at least 200,000 years was one of our most valuable tools for survival.

Today, the bottom half of the world’s population currently share only 1 percent of the world’s resources, while the richest 1 percent own 40 percent of the world’s total wealth. The inevitable result of this dire lack of sharing between and within countries is extreme poverty and life-threatening deprivation for millions of people. According to the World Health Organization, over 40,000 people die each day from entirely preventable causes such as malnutrition and diarrhea.

Long before the golden era of all networks social, luminaries including Sagan and Einstein recognized the value of public science communication in promoting democracy and elucidating issues relevant to the perpetuation of life and livelihood.

From urban Detroit to central Amsterdam, and from worker co-operatives to nomadic communities, an astonishing variety of recent graduates and twenty-something experimenters are finding (and sharing) their own answers to negotiating the new economic order.

All around the world we are already living increasingly public lives, sharing our thoughts, photos, videos, locations, purchases, and recommendations of Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, YouTube, Foursquare and platforms offered by other companies in the sharing industry.

In the Facebook age, it’s increasingly clear that scientific research and innovation simply can’t be relegated to the informational vacuums or institutional silos of yore.

These people aren’t sharing because they’re reckless exhibitionists, mass narcissists, senseless drunks (well, not usually), or insane.  They are doing it for a reason: They realize the rewards for being open and making the connections technology now affords.

Technology may bring these opportunities but technology also breeds fear. Again and again in history technology has caused change and that change has sparked worries that privacy is being threatened or that publicness is being thrust upon us.

Technology is forcing us to question centuries – old assumptions about the roles of the individual and society, our rights, privileges, powers, responsibilities, concerns and prospects.

No matter how much joy and bliss we find in life and how aware we become, whether our awareness is the awareness of our own being or an awareness of Cosmic Consciousness that spans all of Creation, there will be a point at which we will want to share who and what we are and what we have found.

As consciousness explores itself and discovers who and what it is and what it is capable of doing, it desires to share itself with another or others. This desire to share is not an ego based desire such as “Look what I have done” or “Look what I can do.”

Rather is it like a child wanting someone with whom to play and more of a desire to have this other individual enter and experience the world in which the child find themselves. In the way consciousness awakens consciousness, this desire to share is consciousness desiring to have another to see reality and experience reality the way they see and experience it.

We only need to watch a very young child discover a new facet of Creation and how they enthusiastically desire to share what they experienced. The natural response of consciousness is to share what it discovers. Responses other than to share are responses of the ego. Only the ego keeps secrets or is otherwise unwilling to share what it has found.

When we discover new facets of our being and release our bottled up creative abilities, we will have the desire to share what we found. There will be playfulness within our being and in many ways we become very childlike. It will be very difficult for us not to share the gifts we have.  In fact, our desire to share and our enthusiasm will only increase.

This is particularly important to note at a time when government austerity measures are dismantling the social protections and public services that many generations have fought for.

It is a mistake for policymakers to erode the sharing economy in this way as it undermines fundamental human rights and pushes people into poverty and destitution. On the contrary, we must find ways of sharing more – not less – of what we have.

Only a sharing can reduce the massive levels of inequality that exist today.

Global sharing will require us to respect nature’s limits, which means we have to curb our excessive and wasteful patterns of production and consumption and learn to live more simply, especially in rich countries.

Not only can sharing what we have on a global scale prevent needless death and destitution in the developing world, it is also our only hope of averting ecological disaster.

Unless we share the world’s resources there is no hope of creating a sustainable world fit for the 21st Century.

Live and Learn. We All Do.

Thanks for reading. Please share J

Please don’t forget to leave a comment.

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About julia29

Hi. My name is Julia El-Haj. I am a Hall of Fame Athlete, an MBA, Professional Certified Marketer, Certified Youth Fitness Trainer, a Specialist in Sports Nutrition and a licensed Real Estate agent. I gave up my "seat at the table" to be home with my 3 children because that's where I was needed most. I blog about everything with Wellness in mind.
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