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Ten Thoughts on Human Nature

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March 20, 2014 by John Crapper

Indian family in Brazil posed in front of hut ...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Human Nature

n
1. the qualities common to humanity
2. ordinary human behaviour, esp considered as less than perfect
3. (Sociology) Sociol the unique elements that form a basic part of human life and distinguish it from other animal life


John Locke said that people were reasonable by birth and Thomas Hobbs said they were violent and disorderly. Since neither is correct, we must sit on the fence with one foot on both sides and come to our own conclusion.

I’ve always found it fascinating pondering what constitutes being human. What is our true nature? What is it that really makes us tick. What is it that motivates us?

All of these questions are important ones when trying to affect change. It is especially true when trying to affect change in the way humans interact with the environment. I’ve reached some conclusions about what I think it means to be human. For me, they offer insights into explaining why we do the things we do. These ten thoughts are not meant to be a complete list of the nature of man. There have been volumes written on this subject and much disagreement. These are simply some reflections I have in this regard. They are posited for your consideration and thoughts.

First off, although we hear the opposite all the time preached from the pulpits of our churches and pontificated from the politicians we elect, I do not think humans are peace loving. Just look at our history. At any given time throughout our past man has been at war with other men somewhere on the planet. I challenge you to find periods in recorded history that were totally peaceful worldwide.

When I was a kid, my earliest play memories were those of playing cops and robbers. I can remember playing endlessly with the plastic miniature army sets strategically laid out on the ping pong table. My brothers and I had these cool rocket launchers we used to shoot each others soldiers. Kids today gravitate to the warring and fighting video games. Violence is always a top draw at the box office. Nothing like a good murder or violent thriller to entertain. War and war heroes are glamorized in print and movies. Military service is a cherished badge of honor. Witness the popularity of football and boxing, both violent sports. When I’m really honest with myself, I come to the conclusion that humans are really violence loving and not peace loving at all.

Second, humans are pleasure seekers. We want to have a good time. We try to avoid pain. We try to avoid discomfort. We like to play games and have fun. We seek to do things the easy way. We strive for convenience.

Third, humans are competitive. We love to win and we hate to lose. We compete in love and war. We compete in sports and games. We compete for the best jobs, best homes and best cars. We compete for status, wealth, influence and power. We compete for food, shelter and clothing. We compete for all the resources used in our economies. The most successful type of economy in the world is based on competition.

Fourth, humans are self-preserving. We try to prolong life and forestall death. We try to survive as long as possible. Most of us believe in a life after death providing further evidence of our desire at preservation of self.

Fifth, humans inflate our importance and standing in the world in which we live. We think we are above all other living creatures. We believe we were created in the image of God. We believe only we possess a soul that will live for all eternity.

Sixth, humans think we can control nature and bend it to our will. We think we can win in the contest with nature. We believe our intelligence and technological knowhow will overcome our environmental problems. We fool ourselves into thinking we are the driver of nature’s bus.

Seventh, humans tend to mentally deny their animal nature. We work hard to convince ourselves we are not animalistic in our sexual desires and needs. We are shameful of the fact that we take a dump just like all the other animals. We go to great lengths to hide our bodily functions from each other demanding privacy to do our business. Mention of defecation is not appropriate for proper discussion.

Eighth, each one of us innately believes we are unique and special. Most of us, therefore, feel the need to have our own prodigy to carry on that unique specialness.

Ninth, humans are tribal. We tend to classify into categories of “us” and “them”. If you are like “us” you are OK but if you are like “them” be suspicious. The “them” becomes the dangerous ones, the untouchables, and the enemies. The “us” becomes the friends, countrymen, allies, and chosen people.

Tenth, humans are possessive. We like to own, have and possess. We like to call things ours. We like to have our own space; our own privacy. Taking this trait to the extreme many people become extremely greedy which is the unquenchable desire to possess and acquire.

The above thoughts about our human nature have implications when crafting ideas and plans for solving our numerous environmental problems.

Knowing who we are, what makes us tick, and what motivates us to do what we do is important if we are to succeed in altering our behavior and our dealings with nature.  Could we possibly be the lowest creature on Earth instead of the highest?  The answer, if the other animals could talk, might be different from ours.  Our ego just might be clouding our judgement.

Probably the best example of the “my shit doesn’t stink” holier than thou, egocentric ass backward way of thinking humans have is encompassed in this one 3-word phrase:  “Save the Earth”.   Think about this for just a moment.  Man, who requires air to breathe, water to drink and food to eat in order to survive somehow thinks they are important enough to be tasked with the job of saving the planet.  Now I want you to conduct a little experiment.  Hold your breath for just 3 minutes.  This “Save the Earth” line of reasoning is just a little egotistical don’t you think?

"Save our Planet, kill yourself." Ow...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The only thing we are capable of saving is ourselves and current trends don’t point in that direction!

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Our climate is changing. I'm humorously serious about addressing it. I'm convinced my ego is the main culprit. My religion, Holy Shitters, demands I humble myself and celebrate the fact my shit stinks.
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