The kindness paradox: Why be generous?
来源：未知 作者：向悃 时间：2019-03-01 07:14:03
Taylor Weidman/LightRocket via Getty Images By Bob Holmes LIFE isn’t easy as a Maasai herder on the Serengeti plain in eastern Africa. At any moment, disease could sweep through your livestock, the source of almost all your wealth. Drought could parch your pastures, or bandits could steal the herd. No matter how careful you are, or how hard you work, fate could leave you destitute. What’s a herder to do? The answer is simple: ask for help. Thanks to a Maasai tradition known as osotua – literally, umbilical cord – anyone in need can request aid from their network of friends. Anyone who’s asked is obliged to help, often by giving livestock, as long as it doesn’t jeopardise their own survival. No one expects a recipient to repay the gift, and no one keeps track of how often a person asks or gives. Arterra/UIG via Getty Images Osotua runs counter to the way we usually view cooperation, which is all about reciprocity – you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours. Yet similar forms of generosity turn out to be common in cultures around the world. Some anthropologists think it could represent one of the earliest forms of generosity in human society. That’s not the only curiosity about generosity. In biological and evolutionary terms, it makes no sense to give and get nothing in return. Altruism is rare in other animals, yet humans can be inexplicably kind. Are we generous by nature? How did we get to be this way? What role does culture play in kindness?