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Are we obligated to help others in need from a evolutionary / genetic pov?

I want to ask if we're obligated to help others in need? Not from a religious standpoint as to not confuse the issue; but as a society coming from an evolutionary and genetic pov? Is moral obligation better for the human race? Or should "survival of the fittest" come into play?

This link is ranked high on Google and can provide more background on the issue:

  • May 31 2013: Hi Eric!
    Yes! The one and only way to keep this planet going, is if we all pitch in.
    Unfortunately, I make just enough to live on, so I can't afford to help others, even though I find it necessary to our survival as a whole. This, I blame, on Western civilization and the insatiable need for material possession. The fact that I find myself in this part of the world, determines that I partake in it, financially and otherwise. This is why I choose to live frugally, giving up material possessions in an effort to make less of an impact on the environment (even though I am also aware, my minimal impact means very little in the bigger picture).
    So, how else can I help? Narrowing my focus on a local scale. Donating clothing and toys to local initiatives, volunteering to encourage cultural and creative development in my area. Helping others can also mean supporting those nearest, who need help and support just as much.
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      May 31 2013: Lizanne, your comment resonates because it is true for some many Americans. We may make $50k a year but the way we feel pressured to live means we spend $60k per year, leaving nothing left for anyone else and getting most people into debt which makes them dependent at the first hard turn.

      Perhaps there will come along a leader one of these days who can convince more americans to somehow live on half of what they make and give the rest away (and sure, save some), even if that means living like a middle class person by most of the other worlds standards and not by American standards.
      • Jun 1 2013: Eric,
        this is a hot topic in so many countries, I think. I live in the Netherlands, and have seen the American influence more or less take over in the past 20 years. Suddenly, everyone has credit cards and are buying things on lay-away, things that were unheard of 20 years ago in this deeply-rooted Calvanist country! I see couples divorcing because of the financial stress of living 'above their means', and for whom?! The neighbors? Their family? I often wonder, who are people trying to impress, by bleeding themselves dry?

        As much as I'd love to see such a leader, I think the realization needs to come from the people themselves, who are falling deeper and deeper in to the pit of debt and financial obligation... Maybe they need to hit rock bottom, before they realize how they're destroying themselves with materialism?

        But, this is off-topic. We're talking about helping others.
        What that leader you speak of should do, in my opinion, instead of convincing people to live on less money, perhaps he/she could concentrate on building empathy and respect for one another. Where there is empathy, there is a potential to help.

        edit - my reply popped up in the wrong place!
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    May 27 2013: I would say we are because if we are successful it means someone helped us, nobody makes it alone. Since someone helped us, therefore we should help others.
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    May 29 2013: I am answerable to my own conscience
    I am not obliged to help every person in need but i will help every person in need because i am answerable to my own conscience.
  • Keith W

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    May 28 2013: if you earn your money the right way then you should be able to spend it how you want. Many people feel as though giving money actually hurts people in many circumstances. I work with a lady who grew up in Peru and her aunt worked for the catholic church doing charity and she says most of the people that where helped would end up stealing from the church when they had the oppurtunity and exploits its kindess whenever possible. I know too that my grandma has a lot of money but she rarely gives anything away because she feels that if you dont personally earn the money you wont respect it. I dont support survival of the fittest but i support individual freedom and people can choose what they want to do with their money. Also would llike to point to the fact giving money away can be as irresponsible as anything else and the same can go with charities. Many charities are lucrative bussinesses so if you want to be involved in charity i suggest you do so in a wise manner.
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      May 31 2013: Very good points here Keith. Its certainly a delicate balance between staying wise about how / what / who to help, while also trying not to judge others hearts (until we walk a mile in their shoes) because its so easy to become bitter that way. I certainly am still sorting out my own thoughts in that arena.
  • May 27 2013: I don't know.

    I do know that we are privileged to help others in need.
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    W. Ying

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    May 27 2013: .

    We are!

    We have to symbiosize for our survival.
    It is our ancestors' successful experience formed 10,000 years ago and saved in our DNA.

    Here, I would like to use "instinctively" instead of "obligated".

    (from Be Happy Validly!)
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      May 31 2013: A number of great points LaMar.

      "There are some that would argue that helping people leads to people being helpless as a justification for not helping" I think this is a key reason people don't give. And another is they figure that's why they pay taxes and shouldn't have to do anymore.

      "For people to change that belief we need more influential people to teach a new message that contributing to society and charity is more important and more fulfilling than a life of consuming." Well said. Jesus for instance taught this, but today most people who follow Jesus don't adhere to it. What do you think can be done about that?
  • Jun 26 2013: Well it's genetic it's better to help one of the herd in their time of need as they will help you in yours (hopefully) and the herd as a whole in return.
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    Jun 26 2013: From an evolutionary standpoint we along with all other animals have two instinctive purpose, to survive, and to procreate and to combined the two we only have to survive long enough to procreate and nature our young.
    Helping other is an empathic reaction. We are also capable of killing others if we have a cause. And thee two traits are not exclusive to humans.
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    May 31 2013: Obligation is altruism's poor relation.
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      May 31 2013: I'm sorry, I wish I was more poetic :-) Might I ask you to explain your comment just a bit more?
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        May 31 2013: Hi Eric. You're right - I was attempting to be concise, but ended up sacrificing lucidity!

        I was just thinking that obligation seems to me to be a 'forced' or 'dutiful' thing, whereas altruism would be more likely to be automatic and from the heart?
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          Jun 25 2013: . .
          Here, I would like to use "instinctively" instead of "obligated" or "altruistic"
          because it is one of our instincts,
          or our ancestors' successful experience formed 10,000 years ago
          and saved in DNA.