First, human beings are completely good.  We are each completely worthy of existence.  It is axiomatic.  Young children are the best entry into this belief; there is nothing evil and nothing neutral about a young child, just obvious, absolute goodness.  It follows then, that goodness is the essential part of our nature throughout our lives, for the precise difference between ourselves as children and ourselves today is merely a collection of events.

Second, human beings are inherently and joyfully curious and creative.  Unless terribly confused, we learn like crazy all the time and we continually adapt to what we learn.

Third, human beings innately desire and cultivate closeness with others.  Unless terribly confused, we create and maintain a network of emotionally supportive and physically affectionate people.

Fourth, human beings have a natural tendency towards greatness.  That is, we always do the bravest, kindest, smartest, fairest thing that we are capable of in the moment.  Greatness, unlike goodness, can be denied us by circumstance, but the tendency toward greatness cannot.

Fifth, there are two barriers that our tendency toward greatness has to contend with: ignorance and confusion.  Ignorance is the state of not knowing a piece of the world because we haven’t come into contact with it yet, or because we haven’t yet developed the tools to apprehend it.  Confusion is a misunderstanding of something based on our reactions to painful and scary events.  Under the influence of ignorance and confusion, humans act in ways that aren’t great.  We still try to do the bravest, kindest, smartest, fairest thing, but unfortunately that might seem to us like putting someone in a gas chamber or draining a wetland to build a mansion.

Finally, believing that human nature is good and functional is the best starting place for understanding the complexity of human ethics.  People have confusing conflicts and sometimes even real and terrible conflicts of interest.  It is easy to fall into imagining that some people are just bad, or just don’t make sense, and in that simplistic state we can perpetuate cycles of violence and suffering.  To the extent that I am capable, I intend to grapple with the complexity of reality, to understand all points of view, to deal with each person in each interaction with as much compassion as I can muster.

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3 Responses to “My Beliefs About the Basic Nature of Human Beings: Good vs. Bad, Flawed vs. Functional”

  1. Kristine Passs Says:

    It is a rare thing to find someone who believes in the goodness of humanity. I appreciated reading this. Thank you.


  2. thanks for the info badly needed for our debate ^^

  3. pranav sreekumar Says:

    nice and good one.

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