What Is Human Nature?
I had a fascinating conversation recently about human nature. I tend to view people as essentially good, while others would say that humans are naturally self-interested and express compassion and respect for others only because it is socially necessary. My fiancÚ believes that humans are neutral by nature: that we have the potential to do good and bad things, and it is what we make of ourselves that is important.
I see his point. To believe that humans are either good or bad by nature suggests some sort of intelligent design, which I do not believe in. And I see his point, that trumping up human nature romanticizes our existence, in a sense. When it comes down to it, we simply are what we are. His argument makes sense to me.
However, I believe there is more to it than that. Perhaps we are neutral by nature. But, while I don’t believe in intelligent design, I do consider myself a spiritual person. To me, spirituality is any experience that connects us to one another and to the planet on which we live. Enjoying the company of family and friends and experiencing the beauty of nature make us feel good on a fundamental level.
Therefore, while we may be neutral by nature, it is positive experiences that make us feel happy and alive. Most of us are inclined to engage in such activities, rather than destructive ones. However, if we experience some sort of emotional trauma, we can turn away from those inclinations and become serial killers or tobacco executives. So essentially, what I believe about human nature is this: we are born neutral but with inclinations toward enjoying positive experiences – our ability to follow those inclinations is determined by any emotional trauma we experience, as well as the decisions we make on our life path.