But does this apply to humans?
The obvious answer seems to be yes. We are organisms after all.
However, we are organisms whose strength is our mind -- our thinking ability. Athletes in sports might brag they are the fastest or the strongest, but they all pale in comparison to any cat's sprint or mule's kick. They aren't very impressive against these common animals.
So where we truly excel at as human beings is in our capacity to think. No other animal seems to come close.
As such, thinking allows us to see different options. Thinking allows us to plan and choose our destiny. Thinking allows us to make wise decisions despite our fight-or-flight instincts.
Therefore, thinking even allows us to decide on an option that runs counter to our survival. But this decision is no doubt rare. Not everyone is wise enough to think beyond ourselves. I presume some of us will do whatever it takes to survive, no matter how shameful or immoral. History is replete with examples.
My thinking on this is simple: Why would anyone -- once they realize what they are truly doing -- want to choose life over a worthwhile choice? What is the worth of a life filled with decisions one is ashamed of? What is the point of living a life if it means doing what any savage animal would do? We would cease to be human.
For example, the general fear in directly confronting Russia after it invaded Ukraine is that Russia would use their nuclear weapons, thus destroying everyone else in the process. But if society would rather allow such evil to exist so it could preserve itself, what, in fact, is it preserving? A system that allows for such a evil to exist. Then why is it worth preserving? So it is a no-brainer that we must act against Russia's aggression directly and immediately, NATO boots on the ground and stopping the carnage quickly.
Ultimately, however, the problem with choosing survival over a higher standard of conduct is that it is short-lived. When individuals scramble to survive on their own at the cost of others, they are nevertheless weak as individuals. They are doomed from that point on.
In contrast, fairness, decency, and teamwork are the glue that unites groups, communities, and civilizations, making them strong. Unlike selfish individuals, they are formidable and they last.
Ironically and paradoxically, the more we are willing to die, the better the chances we can survive. The old expression, "Fortune favors the bold" holds true. I would argue that the more we are willing to stick up for others, even at our expense, the more fulfilling our lives are. Now we are living for more than ourselves. We are living a life we are proud of. We live without fear, for even death doesn't scare us. The only thing that should scare us the most is to die without redemption, our penultimate and last acts falling well short of where we want to be.
Because if we always choose a higher standard of conduct, regardless of whether we live or we die afterwards, we are always happy with our decisions. And, in turn, we are always happy with our life, even toward death.
"Get them to face danger, but do not reveal the advantages. Throw them into danger and they will survive; put them on deadly ground and they will live. Only if the troops are in situations of danger will they turn defeat into victory." Sun Tzu
"The 'Way' is the strong bond your people have with you. Whether they face certain death or hope to come out alive, they never worry about danger or betrayal." Sun Tzu