The Third Imeprative of the Human Race

I found this buried in an old tome at the back of a very old library in Germany many years ago. At first I thought it was some kind of Catholic religious treatise, but I have seen very similar statements since that have come from all corners of the world and from all times, often pre-dating Christianity by many centuries. So it seems this is, or at least once was, common knowledge.

I produce it here, as near as I can remember to the original that I read. It is written from a male perspective, but I take "man" to mean the human race, both males and females, because I have seen this third imperative come out in both sexes:-

"There are three imperatives for man. The first is self preservation. The second is tribal, the desire, the need to belong, but there is a third that often overrides the first two.

That is self sacrifice. Sometimes a situation arrives where the first two are pushed to the back of man's mind and he reacts unselfishly to protect others regardless of the consequences.

This is the ultimate expression of man."

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Published in Senior Chatters


  1. starlette

    And the ultimate sacrifice would be putting someone else’s life before your own……and many have without stopping to think about the outcome……….just an automatic reaction for some I would imagine……….

  2. waylander Post author

    I have found that if you have to think about it, either you don’t move or it’s too late to make a difference, so yes, automatic or instinctive response is what I believe the quote is referring to.

  3. Maize

    What is the quote about a man laying down his life for his friends?
    Something above the call of duty…or conscious thinking…just devotion and care and love…

      1. Gael

        Brings to mind numerous scripture verses:

        Hebrews 13:16

        Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.

        Luke 6:38

        Give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you.

        1 John 3:17

        But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him?

        Matthew 25:35-40

        For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’

        Galatians 6:2

        Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.

        Romans 15:1
        We who are strong have an obligation to bear with the failings of the weak, and not to please ourselves.

        1. Gael

          Since they don’t let you go back and is the rest of those verses in Matt;25….

          “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’

          1. Gael

            Neither was the author of Romans; Paul. He changed his mind, however.

  4. roseinbloom

    Waylander, thank you for a beautiful way to think of human beings. We are hard wired, DNA programmed to do for others. Religion only reinforces the best already in us.