Survival of the Fittest

Well if it isn’t my favourite 10 or so people in the world (The people who read this obvs lol). Now the last few weeks you may have noticed I haven’t posted anything. Maybe (and probably) you didn’t notice, but for my own ego’s sake we’ll say you did. There are a few reasons why nothing has been up. Firstly, I didn’t have a laptop for fucking ages. The old one packed up, there’s a new one around now, we’re back up and running. Happy days. Secondly, *I’ve been fucking busy haven’t I? (*Read in English accent, probably London-ish). Between switching job, recording Depression-Session podcasts, helping organise the Fight Against Suicide page, and just general life getting in the way, the blog took a hit. It is what it is. The main thing is, WE’RE BACK.

I suppose what I’m gonna talk about is evolution really. Well actually, not really. What I will talk about is Survival of the Fittest. You know the one, natural selection kills off all the weak genetic lines so that the genes of a species improve over time. Basically, the more suited you are to your environment, the ‘fitter’ you are and thus (I used ‘thus’ what a fucking legend) the more likely you are to survive. What I’ve been thinking recently is that, here in the nice and comfortable first world, we are not pressed for survival. It is relatively easy to remain alive nowadays. In general, there aren’t shrouds of random pricks coming to try and kill us. We don’t have any predators. We basically have food and water whenever the fuck we decide we want it, rather than going out and hunting down our potential meals. You’ve heard me say it before, we have it easy. Now, flip over to the third world, or a war torn country like Syria, where having to survive is fundamental. Life is extremely day-to-day in these places, as people struggle to find food and water, and danger is constantly imminent.

Compare the suicide rate in a place like Syria with our own here in Ireland. Ireland’s suicide rate is 11.06 people per 100,00. Syria’s is 0.44 people per 100,00. What the fuck?

Here comes the theory. I think the fight for survival is a necessary part of human life. Survival is necessary for evolution and adaptation. In the first world, we don’t have to survive in any real sense and so we become accustomed to living and therefore lose our sense of gratitude for life. It’s a given that we will continue to live. However, in other countries, life tomorrow cannot be assumed. If you are starving, literally starving (and I assume nobody reading this has ever actually been starving) I imagine all you can think about it finding your next meal. Your entire life’s purpose becomes to find a food source. You are in survival mode. You can’t think about ending your own life in these circumstances because the continuation of life is so urgent.

In our society, every basic need is met. We do not struggle. We do not need to survive. And so, without that imminent pressure, life becomes boring and predictable and monotonous.  I think part of the reason suicide and mental illness are so prominent in developed countries is because we have never known what it means to actually need to fend for ourselves. We do not fully appreciate life because it is served up to us on this nice comfortable platter. In lightof this, it is easy to understand why the suicide rate in Syria, probably the most well-known war zone in recent memory, is so low. People in this country live, day to day, with the knowledge that, at any moment, life could be taken from them, and so, they try and cherish what they have. I’m not saying that they are happy, I can’t even begin to comprehend what living there must be like. All I know is that the pressure to survive seems to ward off any suicidal tendencies.

I’ll leave you with this, if you found out tomorrow that you only had 6 weeks to live, would you take your own life before that 6 weeks was up, or would you try and cherish the time you had left? Appreciation and perspective is everything.


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