Snow monkey or penguin?


The Japanese Macaques, snow monkeys, are a deeply hierarchical society, their status in the group inherited from their mothers. Living in frigid temperatures, the upper class snow monkeys spend their time in natural hot springs, leaving the rest to huddle in the snow and look on as they luxuriate. The Emperor Penguins also live in frigid conditions, huddled together, but they constantly rotate, letting those most exposed on the outside come to the center for warmth. They take turns. It keeps those in the center from overheating and those on the fringes from freezing.

Sharing is an interesting phenomenon. It’s easy to see that when a society shares its resources, the whole group benefits, but how does that play out in the human species? Do we see the benefit to the whole group from sharing what we have, or do we focus on clutching more and more into our own fists? Some humans are uniquely able, it seems, to rationalize selfish behavior even when looking directly at the needs of others. But others consider their own resources an opportunity to help others. This is true both on an individual level, and on a larger societal level. It’s an interesting matter of perspective.

Some snow monkeys, some penguins. Which are you?

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