Today I opened Al Jazeera–TV Station from Qatar–to have a glimpse of pictures taken from around the world on how people are celebrating Eid al Fitr. Last year, I did the same thing on the same platform, yet there is a difference on how I feel about it afterwards, apart from the time and space between now and back then. In May 2021, my celebration of Eid was greatly succeeded by deep mourning due to the Israel-Palestine crisis, preceded by Israel’s eviction of Palestinians in East Jerusalem, which amounted to rocket attacks by both Israel and Hamas.
Last year, I’d found myself looking at a world globe map, different territories marked by lines, dots, dash, and the likes which represents 193 nation states, but overlooks what truly is happening on the ground on those territories. I then imagined that if the globe ball were to be sentiet and autonomously adjusts its own human-made deeds, realistically potraying the situation on the Earth’s lands, it would perfectly depict one of the worst tragedies in human history.
Today, I find deep comfort in not seeing what I saw last year i.e. in looking at pictures of how Palestinians are able to celebrate Eid peacefully in front of the Dome of Rock. They have conducted their Eid prayer at the Al Aqsa mosque, and that the Israeli President, Isaac Herzog, expressed his wish for peace and stability to Palestinian President, Mahmoud Abbas, on the eve of Eid.
This interesting series of events is relevant with what’s to come next. Richard Dawkins’ Selfish Genes –a theory which basically builds upon the evolutionary theory of Charles Darwin–espouses that the main unit of natural selection is neither the individuals nor groups nor species, but genes that strive for immortality, by means of generating itself through generations, which take the form of living creatures who have conscious capabilities, hence the name.
Selfish genes brings about a principal-agent relationship between the genes themselves and living creatures, the former of which are continuously generating themselves through the existence of living creatures as the agent or the “survival machines”. The word selfish itself actually carries paradoxical explanations: the genes are selfish due to their drive to strive for immortality, means that it needs to protect the fitness of their peers in order for the genes of the same kind able to survive in generations, which indicates kinship altruism.
Thus basically, all living creatures are the independent variable responsible for the existence of the genes for God knows how many years, with the moderating variable being the sophistication of the altruism of particular genes, or can be referred to as “the survival of the fittest genes”.
Each one of Abrahamic religions (Judaism, Christianity, and Islam) has, in generations after generations, proved to be an antithesis to those preceding and succeeding them and claim to be the “right one”. Ideas such as political philosophies and public administration paradigms to epistemological assumptions and religions—are like genes. Meanwhile, institutions–people, states, corporations, routines, regulations, and logic of appropriateness, the aggregate of whom and which form different adherents and defenders of different ideas–being the survival machine(s).
Another example to mention is The 1928 Great Depression, which saw the positive correlation between government spending and broader intervention in the economy with growth in public expenditure, paving the way to economic ideas of John Maynard Keynes. The 1980s would later be the nadir of the decline of Keynesian economics, albeit temporarily, characterized by cuts in government spending and privatization of state-owned enterprises to the allocation of public services by the private sector and the eradication of red tape bureaucracy.
The similarity between genes and ideas is they both are value-driven toward their respective goal. Genes strive for immortality, and immorality itself is the end; the externalities of natural selection which humans are the lucky unit of the selection, is both beyond the remit of the genes and beyond good and evil, since genes don’t have conscious capabilities and thus have no conception of right and wrong, what ought to be or what ought not. Ideas, on the other hand, also aim for survival, if not immortality; but the very underlying values and moral foundations of those ideas are the byproducts of the aggregate of human selfishness, to thrive and succeed at the expense of other defenders of the opposing ideas.
And therein lies both the beauty and irony: humans need ideas to survive, if not to constantly be the servant of their genes. However, humans managed to become the ‘fittest species’ among all other living creatures and are able to master our planet through the ideas that they construct and preserve.
So it’s heartwarming to see that humans do have the capacity to find common ground among opposing point of views. I look again at the pictures on Al Jazeera where Muslims from around the world are celebrating Eid al Fitr, irrespective of the many different school of thoughts of Islam, the prevailing ideas, and strong institutions governing particular territories in which Muslims are the minority. We then see the peace from it.
To end this piece, humans, as the driving and survival machines of those ideas, have the responsibility to carry out their obligation to their genes through reproduction and should be wary of the human tendencies to be self-destructive. The argument goes this way: if ideas do not embrace peace, then humans have become failed agents of their principals, betraying the genes who, as far as the evolutionary theory is concerned, solely aim to maintain its existence through generations, and I believe that if genes themselves were to have conscious capabilities, it would have chosen peace.
Editor: Tahtia Sazwara, Madina Fiscarine, Gabriel Fiorentino Setaidin
Ilustrator: Batrisyia Izzati Ardhie