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Continuing Selfishness of Human Nature

Is mankind innately selfish and violent as a whole without society's laws and contracts?

Looking back at the history of civilization, we have seen the vast majority of peoples behaving violently for the preservation of their health, and that of their family, but, more importantly, for the preservation of their control over X. From the family, to the village: these groups of various families are dependent on one-another, and so we see eventual clashing of villages. From villages to cities, cities to government, and government to, well, fall of government. At all stages of these developments all over the world and through thousands of years, desire motivates action, but the devastating results of conflict increased exponentially as the form of civilization evolved through Politics. At all levels, the actions were declaring war, genocide, massacres, assassinations, rape, and keeping money away from helping the health of the people. Has this blatant history REALLY not convinced everyone of mankind’s selfish nature? We ARE a type of animal. With nothing but our naked bodies on us and without Law and Politics, bad things have usually occurred- and by ‘bad’ I do mean ‘immoral’. Even when these Political and Law systems are in place, most have lead to the same. These politics evolved from the need of mankind to preserve itself from itself. And so: violence and body counts grew larger throughout history as larger and larger societies conflicted. Adding Law to the equation only strengthened a society's ability to immorally rip diversity to shreds by recognizing the differences around it as a threat, and persecuting these differences because of fear of change. As our institutions raise us to pull out chairs, save children from buses, and just ‘be good’, we aim to achieve a moral greatness, and become a ‘good’ person. We have come a long way in our ability to raise tolerance in these people, but it is not human nature to act as such, nor is the nature of politics. On all levels from self to Government, it is all about a desire for the control of X (the different sex, skin color, religion, class). I believe that it is very ignorant to look at the developments of humanity in the past and present, and determine that mankind is not naturally selfish and violent regarding what they do not understand. There is no humanly peace, only rare peace amidst diverse groupings amidst the Earth’s 7 billion people… and they will probably be killed sooner or later. It is human and political nature supported by history: from Crete, to Rome, to Napoleon, to Bush. I see the means for change, and the possibility, but the dominant parties of this world (and, more importantly, the world of the past 6000 years) are doing their best to ignore the possibility that the future’s outlook on the nature of humanity can dominantly support equality on all fronts. There can be no true equality without the majority of a populous being equal, nonviolent, and moral. Based on the facts of intolerance in nearly all aspects of civilization formation in history, is this achievable? As President-Elect Obama stated last night, his changes may not come overnight, in a year, nor through a single term. And so, we look ahead to the following decades before minority groups become the majority. By considering the overwhelming history of immorality and bigotry as a depiction of selfish, bangwagon jumping human nature, it is hard to declare that racism will deter when this day comes. With vast populations of different cultural groups, there may be more hate and discrimination to build on between them. Everybody is looking to get theirs. African-americans and Latinos have the forefront of white america's attention, but what happens when others need national support. While supporting the lives of some, those of others will be left out to dry, and I fear that the good will of Obama may be no match for the possibilities that selfishness will bring between differences in race, and sexuality in 2025. Changes are coming from all directions -both moral and intolerantly immoral.
-Marco Vincent


I agree that we do have a selfish nature. Each one of us always is looking for what we want rather than what others want. But I do think it is good to realize not only our selfish past, but the good things that have happened in the past. America has come a long way in just the past 100 years. Things that have been accomplished in the past, I'm sure were seen as nearly impossible to crossed, and good things came. We shouldn't lose hope. It's hard to imagine a world without all of the inequality that we live in today, but I believe that we can continue to work closer to equality.

As I see the value in your points, I challenge you also to regard the positive parts of human history. For every act of terror, violence, and immorality, somewhere there is an act of solidarity, kindness, or empathy, even if fleeting. I'm not an idealist, and I do not think that chanting 'yes we can' will fix these problems. I agree that humanity has an incomprehensible barrier to climb, but I also believe in the ability of leaders to mobilize the other parts of humanity.
Again, great points, but I would be wary of getting too caught up in this type of hopelessness...it can become another mask to hide behind instead of improving ourselves.
Equality, I think, must be like an asymptote right now...we may not be able to understand reaching it, but we can work closer, and closer, and closer...

You made some good points of the nature of humans. For us to say that we are different from animals, I truly disagree. The human species is really messed up. Government is only in place to ensure the unprivileged or the "other" (woman, non-white,poor, etc) stays at the bottom of the power hierarchy. And although Obama says that we need unity in order to move forward, I believe that the selfishness of the people and the government will challenge his good will. Another thing that I have noticed is that the people of the U.S. always wants to blame the government for the fall of everything. I truly believe that we as Americans must take responsibility for our actions. But hey I don't know if we are able to accept that truth.

I agree with the assertion that human beings are inherently selfish.I don't think any civilization,any kind of teaching(religious or secular) would change that fact.We always start from ouselves,then to family,friends,etc.I believe the seemingly innocent things we do evey day show how we chase our own selfinterest.When we say we love someone, for example,is that for his/her sake or for our own?But one thing is for sure.Doing good things for others will advance our interest/happiness too.I think the few rich would benfit if the lives of the majority improve in this country.Or the white population would benefit if the lives of the eminorities improve.