Thursday, April 30, 2015

On Human Nature

There are many people who believe that human nature is evil, or that human nature is sin. As a father, I know that they are wrong.

My daughter's first social interaction, at age 1, was coming up to another little girl and giving her a hug. I've seen children play peacefully across gender lines and across racial lines. And I've also seen people with no acquaintence to Chr istianity, Judaism or Islam – people such as my grandmother, who was a Communist – acting in responsible, compassionate, hard-working and generous ways.

At age 16, as a student at a Christian school, I was talking to my mother about “common human nature,” and she said that I was wrong. She said that she had never wanted to hurt anyone. I realized that she was right. There are all sorts of people – such as my mother and my daughter – who are born good. Which completely refutes the claim that human nature is sin, or that human nature is of the Satan.

However neither is the nature of all people good. And for those whose nature is not good, the solution is choice based on values. Any human being is capable of choice. Which means that even the people who are naturally sociopaths or bullies or scoundrels can act rightfully if they put their minds to it.

In some cases goodness is natural; in other cases it has to be attained through an effort of will. In either case it is possible to be a good person. Having been a bad person at some times in my life and a good person at others, I know that goodness is attainable for everyone. It is a matter of choice; and everyone is capable of it.


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