One would think that the will to survive would be so far ingrained in our DNA that even questioning its presence would be folly. After all those without the desire to and ability to survive and procreate have served as Darwinian dead ends throughout history. Thus we are the descendants of those most interested in and capable of procreating and ensuring the survival of their offspring. This process has continuously taken place unimpeded for thousands of years, until now.
Apart from the obvious physical aspects of the will to survive, eating enough to avoid starvation, avoiding predators and other sources of an early demise, the human will to survive can be defined more broadly. Let’s first look at the current situation in Japan as a case study. Japan is in a serious demographic squeeze. They have an ageing population and not nearly enough babies born to replace those dying off. They have long since passed the point of selling more adult diapers (for elderly people) than baby diapers. Hikikomori, grass-eaters, sexless men, the problem has many names. A surprisingly large proportion of young Japanese aren’t interested in forming relationships or having sex. Procreation is thus even farther away.
As agricultural, medical and other technologies have improved throughout history, the world population and lifespan have increased dramatically. One would thus expect that the populations of countries with access to the latest in life preserving technology would increase year after year. This expectation neglects to look at the importance of psychological attitude, “mindset” if you will, and an understanding of the value and importance of creating the next generation. Japan like many other modern and advanced countries suffers from a rapid and dramatic decline in the mental groundwork that is necessary for healthy demographic trends to take place.
The West in general is in the same boat as Japan. Not just demographically speaking, but also in terms of culture, intellectually, spiritually and morally. The will to defend the values, borders, people, culture and frankly the future of the West is nearly gone. It is curious to imagine the people of the past and the squalid conditions they had to endure in order to ensure the survival of their progeny. We have all kinds of luxuries unfathomable to even the richest individuals of the past. Food, shelter and medical care is plentiful and easily available, yet still we fail to do something as simple as fulfil the basic purpose of our genes.
The third prong I want to look at is the collective, national struggle to ensure survival that took place in the nuclear shadow of the Cold War. It is truly fascinating to go through the history of all the preparations, plans and infrastructure that was created in order to secure the continuation of nations in the event of nuclear armageddon. The people of only half a century ago took it for granted that national survival was a good thing, necessary and worth spending time, money and effort on. People built shelters and bunkers in their houses and backyards, all in order to give them a chance at survival if the unthinkable were to happen. Looking at the post-attack survivors depicted in films such as “The War Game”, “Threads” and “The Day After” one truly appreciates their instinctual will to survive, even if survival means a hellish existence in an apocalyptic wasteland. They still preferred that lousy possibility to the alternative.
How quickly the change has occurred from having the natural imperative of survival and procreation to what we have now, a shadow of its former self. I find it hard to wrap my head around the fact that individuals can be incredibly resilient in the face of mortal danger, while the collective languishes on a slow-moving road to death. Movies are often made about the heroic efforts individuals have gone through in order to survive against the odds. The discrepancy between tales like “127 Hours” and “Alive” compared to the civilizational direction the West is moving in is difficult to fathom. DNA can’t possibly have changed enough in the few short decades we have recently gone through for the natural will to survive to have disappeared or faltered.
The explanation must be psychological. You can certainly include culture in this explanation. Toxic and destructive ideas have invaded the minds of modern man to such an extent that we are currently failing in doing what even the simplest organisms consisting of precious little more than a few clusters of cells can easily accomplish. Civilizational apathy is a malaise that is eventually going to be far more destructive than hot wars or “traditional” conflicts and dangers.