Monday, June 20, 2011

Human Nature

There is still a very miniscule part of me that wants to believe that people are good, however; experience tells me otherwise. Negative experience outnumbers the positive by 5 to 1, and I cannot view this as accidental. How we treat people is a choice. It is not predetermined by biology or even environment. We choose to be disrespectful—to lie, to steal, and to harm others physically as well as emotionally. We choose to do bad things to other people and we choose (as a society) to see those bad things as acceptable.

The most horrific acts of violence have consequence if the perpetrator is caught, but there seems to be a certain level of tolerance when it comes to wrongdoing. In the workplace, supervisors ignore bad behavior because they say that they can’t do anything about it. In some cases, poor performers are promoted in order to shove the problem off on someone else. The best workers pay the price for the actions of others.

   The fear of being sued prevents many people from becoming involved in any situation. It is considered normal for someone to sue the person who saved their life because the savior broke their ribs while administering CPR. It is ok for a home intruder to sue the people who own the house he broke into, because he tripped and fell over a cord that shouldn’t have been there.

   As a parent, I am told to reward my daughter’s best behavior and discipline the bad. How do I reconcile the reverse of this in the real world? How do I tell her that in life, doing what is expected of her will be ignored while those who misbehave will be rewarded? Should I tell her that being good won’t get her anywhere?

That tiny part of me that still believes grows smaller every day as I struggle to find answers to all of my questions concerning things that I do not understand. So, do I think that people are basically good? I think they choose not to be.

Please be aware that I am talking about people in general, and not cases of severe mental illness.

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