Perhaps compassion underlies sharing behavior—the basis of social welfare. The fittest are not the physically strongest, nor the smartest, but are those who learn to cooperate and provide support of strong and weak alike, for the welfare of the community. Evolution has favored the development of human compassion, empathy, and altruistic behavior: communities with the strongest degree of cohesiveness and social support tend to rear the greatest number of offspring.
People cannot attain basic well-being or self-sufficiency in conditions of poverty or oppression. Well-being is thus a political issue. Governments need to finance the public goods and services necessary to provide a social safety net below which no citizens should be allowed to fall. Developed societies help disadvantaged citizens achieve physical health, emotional comfort, and economic security through social welfare programs.
Social welfare is public assistance that attempts to meet basic economic, health, and social services needs of poor people. ‘A nation’s greatness is measured by how it treats its weakest members.’ –Mohandas Mahatma Gandhi