IN 1983, a biologist studying vampire bats in the forests of Costa Rica made a remarkable discovery: Bats that spent the night gorging on blood returned to their caves and routinely fed fellow bats that didn’t find enough to eat. [...]It takes a village - always has.
Lately, I have been wondering what these bats mean for American politics, at a time when the very idea of helping needy fellow Americans has come under assault. Newt Gingrich routinely attacks President Obama as a “food stamp president.’’ Rush Limbaugh calls the safety net for the poor “one of the biggest cultural problems we have got.’’ A Tea Party Express audience yells “yeah!’’ when Wolf Blitzer asks if an uninsured man in a hospital should just be left to die. As I watch all this, I can’t help but wonder: Are we are really less generous than bats that suck blood?
So I call up Gerald Wilkinson, the biologist who discovered bat altruism.
I ask: “Are vampire bats all bleeding-heart liberals? Are they socialists?’’
Wilkinson’s answer: “Not exactly. If they were not helping each other, they would not live very long.’’