The Home of Steven Barnes
Author, Teacher, Screenwriter

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Are People Good At Heart?

Human beings as a group aren't either good or evil. They commit acts that are perceived as good or evil, and sometimes do this consistently, and take pleasure in it. But there is no objective "weight" to any of this. Does one act of child abuse outweigh a hundred acts of parental kindness? Does one act of violence or murder outweigh a thousand days of loving sacrifice? Our perceptual filters will determine our answers. What CAN be said is that all human beings feel fear and loneliness. The only question is: what do we do with our loneliness and our fear? Do we lie about it? Run from it? Personally, I used my loneliness to motivate me to become a person who could find and hold a healthy relationship. And my fear motivated me to investigate the nature of fear, leading to black belts in multiple martial arts, and an understanding that fear is just part of the human experience, and means little in and of itself. Our society, our world, can never be better than we are as individuals. Be the change you wish to see in the world. We owe it to our ancestors, and to our children unborn.
Read the Article at HuffingtonPost


Anonymous said...

You have to express more your opinion to attract more readers, because just a video or plain text without any personal approach is not that valuable. But it is just form my point of view

Anonymous said...

Compassion (or "Goodness" if you will) is imperative for us as primates, as has been pointed out on this blog before. The survival of each individual, except for the Alpha, depends on our ability to bond with others in the group. This would require empathy and the ability to read facial expressions and body language, which would hopefully lead to the "good" behavior necessary to create and maintain those bonds. Most of us are, thankfully, born with this ability, no less than the tendency towards selfishness and self-deception.

Ethiopian_Infidel said...

"The survival of each individual, except for the Alpha, depends on our ability to bond with others in the group."

The Alpha's status depends on its ability to bond with the entire group. This bond enables it to service their collective physical and psychological needs. The bond also enables the alpha to impose its will and purpose on the clan, duping them into conflating its self-interest with theirs. Paradoxically, the totalitarian dynamic also facilitates manipulation by lower members, who merge their voices and wills in the gestalt, deceiving the alpha into appropriating them and furthering the interests of its supposed subjects

Anonymous said...

Ethiopian_Infidel - Fascinating! My limited understanding of Alphas in primate groups is that they rarely interact with the rest of the group, except to accept shared food, or grooming - which they do not reciprocate. Would love to know more about how they form and maintain a bond with their entire group. Perhaps the others consider being between them and predators as sufficiently "good" behavior? Thanks for clarifying.

Anonymous said...

PS - What you describe sounds very much like parent/child relationships as well.