Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Are people inherently good or bad?

A long winded reply to Misty's musing has sparked all manner of response in me.

So now you get to suffer for it! Bwahahahaaa!

Well now that's a whole series of serious questions (Misty asked). Are people either inherently good or evil?

I think people are neutral and their actions define them. The path to hell and all that is, after all, paved with good intentions. So even if your intentions are good ones and you still manage to kill people directly (not, for example 5th party down) through your actions, I'd call you evil. For instance, the doctors that wanted to study syphilis and let it run rampant in black men MAY have had good intentions but their practice was EVIL. Thus, to me, they were evil men. Surely there was some other way of figuring syphilis out.

However it becomes a slippery slope very quickly because there's ALWAYS going to be someone further up the Angelic Chain that can point to their years in the Peace Corps that beats your local social activism, or my composting beats your recycling, etc. So you probably need to ask yourself whether you are contributing to the positive or the negative with your CONSCIOUS choices.

Shop at Walmart? Can you shop anywhere else? Then do so. Can't afford to? Then you should work to make the world a better place in some other way. Conscious choice. Could you recycle/compost but you don't because it's "too much trouble"? Something to think about then. "Too much trouble" doesn't cut it with me. Things that are worthwhile to do are going to take extra effort.

Having children is a perfect example. It's "easy" to just let them run rampant and a helluva lotta work to actually socialize them: please, thank you, eating with utensils, using napkins, excuse me, not running out and shooting the place up, etc. It is "easier" to not even bother, but a good human being is WORTH the extra effort. Just as taking care of our ONLY planet is WORTH the extra effort (of composting/recycling/eating organic/shopping at "blue" places/reducing our impact on the planet).

We only have the one planet. No one has yet PROVED there is a god/goddess and that there is any life other than this one. We need to stop kidding ourselves that there's some sort of better "other world" and that this one is disposable.

I can't help but think (call me naive, I know), that if everyone tried to be a better person every day and did their little bit to make the world a better place that it would become a better place. Don't cut people off in traffic. Compliment a complete stranger (It can make their whole day!). Help out in soup kitchens. Rescue animals. Whatever floats your boat. Just DO something! Stop being selfish. Empathize.

Not everyone is as lucky as you.

As rich as you.

Grew up as well as you.

Was/is as loved as you were/are.

Pay your taxes!


Don't begrudge the school systems the money they need to improve/educate the children in your neighborhood even if you are never going to have children. The work those teachers do will have life-long effects. Helping others helps you, even if you don't realize it. Those same children will one day grow up and will probably be part of the service industry you rely on every day: waitresses, janitors, snow plow operators!, teachers, surgeons, nurses, cashiers, data entry personnel. If their choices are severely limited, where do you think they're going to turn to find a way out of their personal hell? Don't give me that "pull yourself up by your bootstraps" bullshit! Were you ever born a poor minority from the inner city whose parents were dead/absent/hopped up on drugs? Probably not.

If you're reading this we can probably assume a few things about you:
  1. You're probably reading this on your own computer
  2. In your own apartment/home
  3. Fed, clothed and gainfully employed (or have access to $ to pay bills)
  4. Learned to read from a teacher somewhere, somewhen.
Call it enlightened self-interest if you will, but taking care of the people around you, even the least of them that you may never meet benefits you and society in the long.

Oh and YES some people will take advantage of the system. Some people always do and always will, but that is no reason to punish everyone. Those people, we would say, are inherently bad.

But you, you have choices to make, every single day to be a better person and to make the world around you a better place. Choose something you love and expand on it. Feed wild birds. Plant a garden. Donate food to neighbors or shelters. Volunteer.

Everything you do, every act you make is inherently political and can be made for the greater good or solely for your own interest. Find the balance.

I know I'm trying to!


Scylla said...

I agree. There is no reason to ignore the needs of people in our society simply because a few people with take undue advantage of your assistance.

Notice the undue part, if anyone actually uses the help you offer, they are by definition taking advantage of it. Therefore, you cannot offer assistance if you don't expect people to take advantage of it.

Children are a great example of the people who need help, and won't take undue advantage of your assistance. How can they?

If you can't spend the time to assist in public school classrooms, or mentor children in the inner city, or assist the children in your community somehow, go the Heifer International and donate money to one of their programs. They offer school supplies for needy children in our own country, along with other options for children worldwide.

Darn it, now I have to post another post to respond to this post.... Trace, we have started something!!

Woman with a Hatchet said...

It becomes a very circular conversation until someone else jumps in, but I can blather on about Civil Responsibilities until the cows come home!

Or Caitlin - whichever comes first.

But kids CAN take advantage of you. I feel used on a daily basis - sometimes it's even nicely!

Tanith said...

Thanks for writing this.

Woman with a Hatchet said...

Thank you for reading, Tanith!

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