I need it, you need it. What is “help” and why we all need it

To a degree, it’s quite difficult in our society to admit to be in need of help. The most obvious reason is that, in a competitive environment, needing help can be perceived as a weakness.¬†But here’s why asking for help is good and most of all natural.

Help is an interactive activity and is entirely based on cooperation and empathy. Why is it natural? Well, to begin with, what separated the human race from other primates was exactly this ability to cooperate for a common purpose. We were able to help each other, cooperate and achieve more complex goals. This resulted in the creation of a structured society and eventually in evolutionary success.

And now, to empathy: this quality is proper of many animals, but in most cases it’s limited to the mother-puppies relationship and exclusively oriented to the survival of the species. Humans can go further. Besides a high level of empathy that helps us taking care of each other often out of the family bonds, we also have a creative empathy at our disposal. Think of humor, games, movies, theatre plays. We can enjoy all this because we’re constantly able to figure out what others are thinking. Without this one ability, we’d be back to the animal kingdom.

Because of this creative empathy, helping others is really an instinctive reaction that we have. Any service provided within our society follows this principle. “I know what you’re going through or what you’re looking for, so here’s a new cure/insurance/service for you”.

What we often forget is how fundamental this help is and how good we all are at helping. Help is fundamentally linked to our nature and it’s a shame that we progressively forget how decisive it has always been for our evolution.

So let’s cultivate helping others, and let us be helped. Nobody is “weak” because he/she needs help. Instead, there is a word for all the species in nature who couldn’t develop an effective system¬† of mutual help: I guess you guessed by now, this word is “extinct”.

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