The Curse of Human Nature

 

 

Whenever anyone comes up with an idealistic vision to put an end to war, prevent the destruction of nature, solve the overpopulation crisis, or put into place a socialist government that would create fairness and equality, we are always told – ‘great idea but it can’t happen because of human nature’.

 

What is this curse of human nature?

 

It seems that whenever anyone tries to do something good someone comes along to undermine it. They either selfishly exploit people or do something destructive.

 

This human nature is the side of us that likes inflicting pain and being cruel, greedy and selfish. It is the bullying side; the violent, brutal side.

 

Over the centuries religions have warned against this curse of human nature. They have set out rules and commandments and followed them up with humungous threats of eternal damnation. But that hasn’t worked. What with paedophile priests and greed and avarice rampant in society it obvious that people pay lip service at best.

 

Yet there is another side to human nature. There is the good caring side, the compassion and empathy, tolerance, love and responsibility. People are capable of the most altruistic acts. They give up their lives to care for others and that even extends to nature – people protect and care for the plants and animals. That is the good side.

 

 

So is the curse of human nature the fact that a minority of us are always, selfish, cruel and exploitative? Or are all of us like that to an extent?

 

Can nothing be done about the bad side of our nature?

 

Many say no - it is intrinsic in our genes and we cannot change.

 

I say they are wrong and that history proves me right, we are improving. History is full of the grossest deeds. In modern times we still do a lot of mean and nasty things but I would contend not on the scale of past centuries.

 

So what is to be done given our human nature? Do we merely say that we are beyond hope? Do we say that there will always be poverty, inequality, racism, destruction and cruelty and there is nothing we can do about it? It is in our genes. The powerful will exploit the weak. That is just the way it is.

 

 

Or do we use the power of our knowledge of psychology and education to nurture the good side of our nature and eradicate the bad?

 

Comments

opher goodwin Added Aug 1, 2017 - 10:56am
I think the majority of us, most of the time, exhibit our good side. There is hope.
JJ Montagnier Added Aug 1, 2017 - 11:05am
Opher, I think we tend to exhibit our good side mostly when we are on our own in real life situations - not so much online. 
Group behaviour is another issue. We are easily caught up in group-think.
 
Basically we always have to question whether we have double-standards. Many people do, because they don't really stand for the values they espouse - because they haven't really thought their values through.
opher goodwin Added Aug 1, 2017 - 11:58am
JJ - online tends to bring out the worst in some people - most probably the anonymity or lack of appreciation that it's real people that they are talking to.
Group dynamics are a problem - it reinforces behaviour patterns and puts people in a bubble.
Personally I despair at the mindless cruelty meted out to animals, the thoughtless destruction of the environment, cruelty in all its forms, abuse and war. We are a violent species.
Michael Cikraji Added Aug 1, 2017 - 1:13pm
Hey opher,
I appreciate your posts! But I think you're looking at these things too much with a black/white, right/wrong, good/bad lens... You're neglecting the many areas of gray.
Take for example John D. Rockefeller. He was a cutthroat businessman, he deliberately (and illegally), undermined fair competition,  disregarded government regulation and rules, flagrantly underpaid and abused his workers, and polluted the skies, streams and lakes with poison: all this to attain more money than God!
However, he also donated heavily to charities, helped to build his country into an industrial world power, gave thousands of people jobs, created a communication and transportation infrastructure, and helped redefine the concept of capitalism and the way we do business.
See, he's not an illustration of just the bad side of our nature: his greed and ambition did both good and bad at the same time.....  
George N Romey Added Aug 1, 2017 - 1:16pm
People said at one time the human race needed Kings and Queens to keep order.  Or that we had to hang people for the slightest infraction or people would just openly ignore the laws.
 
Truth is the human race when it puts its mind to something usually can get it done.
opher goodwin Added Aug 1, 2017 - 1:17pm
Good point Michael - Things are rarely black and white.
Dino Manalis Added Aug 1, 2017 - 1:48pm
Human nature is complex, because we're thinkers, that's why issues have to be debated openly and freely, not only on Writer Beat, but everywhere, including universities!
Barath Nagarajan Added Aug 1, 2017 - 1:51pm
The end of socialism is the equal distribution of wealth, just like communism, but communists choose  revolution and violent overthrow of the "bourgeoisie" or the class of owners, while socialists support achieving the same ends by democratic processes.
Is there something in human nature that loves what is noble, and dislikes what is lowly?
    Sure, but is this what is wrong with Socialism, and human nature?
     I argue that concept of sacrifice to justify anything has outworn it's value.
opher goodwin Added Aug 1, 2017 - 1:52pm
Dino - I agree. Nothing is black and white - it is all interesting to debate. Thinking is good!! Long live Thinking!!!
opher goodwin Added Aug 1, 2017 - 1:53pm
George - the tyranny of Kings - replaced by other tyrannies?
We seem to be getting better, don't we? Best to get together and pool our resources for the common good rather than allow tyrants of any shape to exploit us.
John G Added Aug 1, 2017 - 6:19pm
Capitalism encourages sociopathy. Western nations are being bombarded with capitalist indoctrination which shuns society as a concept.
War and conflict are not the natural state of man.
We build towns, cities and nations as societies because we are social creatures.
Democracy will always lead to socialism and that's why the capitalist class always must subvert it.
The Burghal Hidage Added Aug 1, 2017 - 8:23pm
Opher -
 
I respect your determination to hold to your idealism. I guess I am just too much of a cynic.
 
I agree that our nature is possessed of both the good and the bad. It is this in essence that continues as the bane of your idealism. Not a personal criticism, mind you, just a sober appraisal of reality. I do share some hopes, slim though they may be, that some of your ideals could at least come close to being realized. But these will not come about through the vehicle of the state. It is the paradox inherent in human narure which prevents this. These are ideals that only have the chance of realization on a local level. Community to community, on the individual, personal level.
 
For all of its lustre in theory the socialist state is not the means of achieving your goals. As an economic and political system it has always and will always be a dismal failure. It always rails about the abuses and authoritarion tendencies of other systems, yet inevitably reverts to the same authoritarian measures to implement and try to maintain their ideal of society. 
 
There are no macro solutions where it comes to human beings. To try to force this into existence is as futile as pushing string, herding cats, choose your analogy.
Patrick Writes Added Aug 1, 2017 - 8:36pm
Good post. Interesting topic. 

But there is some false equivalency contained within. 
 
We should always seek to improve things. Religious people are just in favor of improvements as anyone (except extreme cases like the Amish perhaps). 
 
So you certainly can't imply religion=against improvements
 
 
But everyone (religious people included) are good at spotting bad theories that expect people to act altruisticly against their own self-interest. That is completely against human nature and simply never going to happen (example: Communism). 
 
 
"In modern times we still do a lot of mean and nasty things but I would contend not on the scale of past centuries."
 
World War II was the most destructive war in human history. Nothing else even comes close. 50 million dead in total. Are we truly more enlightened? We try to be. We don't torture people anymore, draw and quarter them like in Medieval times. But despite our best efforts, have we come very far? 
 
 
"Do we say that there will always be poverty, inequality, racism, destruction and cruelty...(somewhere in the world)?" Yes, we will never fully eradicate all acts of human evil and ugliness.
 
It's kind of like the author's example that religion "hasn't worked" because humankind isn't perfect. Well...throw out the baby with the bathwater and we'll find out how much Christianity "worked" in Western culture. If you stop highlighting the bad side of human beings and telling them to fight against it altogether, will that lead to better or worse results? 
 
The "second Industrial Revolution" in the late 19th century came to us from Victorian Britain as well. Is Christianity against scientific inquiry and improvements to life? 
 
(For anyone who actually cares, unlike hucksters out there, there has been a serious divide in the last few hundred years in Europe between "Catholic countries" and ones that embraced the Reformation and allowed for varying degrees of freedom of religion. Ones that embraced the Reformation like England, the Netherlands, Germany, and later the U.S., these took off. And mighty countries during the Renaissance like Italy, Spain, and France that "stayed Catholic" regressed.
 
Could anyone say that Victorian Britain wasn't "really" a Christian country or society? Of course it was. Thus, is Christianity against scientific inquiry or improving life conditions?)
Saint George Added Aug 1, 2017 - 8:59pm
What is this curse of human nature?
 
I believe the "curse" is called reality.
EXPAT Added Aug 1, 2017 - 9:48pm
Saint George.
This Strawman convention fabricated all sorts of conditions that are really fears of the authors.
 
Human Nature became a curse, As if all humans were the same.
The struggle of real life V. Online, when today there is no separation.
Dr. Jaeckle and Mr. Hyde
People need direction
Mr. OBVIOUSLY SIMPLE
Socialist Copy/paste
The Evil Capitalist
All concepts are equal
Praise God from whom all blessings flow
 
Posted in that order!
 
Then you come along and piss on the fires, so all these Strawmen are here to haunt Mankind forever. How scary!
opher goodwin Added Aug 2, 2017 - 2:30am
John - that is a very optimistic view in my opinion. But why do some people buy into this capitalist ethic?
opher goodwin Added Aug 2, 2017 - 2:34am
Burghal - if things have not worked in the past then it is my belief that we should study why and learn from our mistakes. it is my contention that most people are reasonable, pleasant and friendly. They want a quiet life, free from strife. They do not like violence. What we have to do is provide a fair society for them to live in. The only society that is fair is a socialist one. We have to use our knowledge to make it work. I believe we now have the means. It does not have to be tyrannical or claustrophobic - just fair.
opher goodwin Added Aug 2, 2017 - 2:47am
Thanks Patrick - an interesting response. It is certainly the case that the enlightenment altered Christianity, separated it from the state and created more tolerance in modern times. But if we go back a little way we can see the claustrophobia that Christianity created in society. It put the brakes on development big time. Scientists were hounded, ridiculed or burnt at the stake - one only has to think of Galileo, Copernicus and Darwin. If we look at Islam and Judaism it is even worse. These are cultures frozen in medieval times. Islam is fighting to drag the world back to 700 AD. That area of the Middle East was the seat of agriculture, mathematics and science. It is where civilisation started. Nothing has come out of there since the advent of Islam.
I don't agree that a system, such as communism is against the interests of anyone. A fairer society is in everyone's interests. It doesn't require altruism. It requires a gradual shift, through progressive taxation, towards a fairer distribution of wealth. That is all.
The Second World War was a terrible war because of technology not cruelty.
Victorian England was a corrupt veneer of hypocrisy. There were more brothels and pubs, more murder, crime and squalor, than at any other time. A Christian society? Yes, quite probably. People lived double standards and used religion as an excuse.
opher goodwin Added Aug 2, 2017 - 2:48am
Saint - 'Reality'? Reality isn't a curse - reality is a wonder.
opher goodwin Added Aug 2, 2017 - 2:52am
Expat - who is saying all human beings are the same? What we all are are humans - so we are similar. Within any group there is a range of behaviours, attitudes and tendencies - but they do tend to follow psychological tendencies and group dynamics - in that way we are very much the same.
You say there is no difference between life and life in cyberspace? Really?
John G Added Aug 2, 2017 - 3:13am
OG John - that is a very optimistic view in my opinion. But why do some people buy into this capitalist ethic?
Propaganda. It's ubiquitous in the western world.
opher goodwin Added Aug 2, 2017 - 3:40am
Or wishful thinking?
The Burghal Hidage Added Aug 2, 2017 - 4:23am
Opher-
 
We are not entirely in disageement, yet there are some distinctions to be drawn. You say we should examine the why of the failures. You have answered this in your title: human nature.
 
I do agree that most people tend to be reasonable and only seek to lead peacable lives of their own. Despite this, however, there is the unfortunate fact that this does not apply universally. Whether due to some imbalance in individual brain chemistry or a flaw in individual character as a result of ones upbringing, there will always be the proverbial bad apple. To continually insist on denying this is a akin to self-flagellation.
 
Some of the stated principles of socialism are realized and are workable at the community level. It is when one attempts to force this on a wide scale through the vehicle of the state that it falls prey to the manipulation of the few bad apples, thus corrupting the principles intended. And the same is true of capitalism. It is a workable system when the individual is left to pursue their well being upon the merit of their own efforts and talents.
 
The only way that the ideal of any utopian state is to be accomplished is through the alteration of human nature. How does one get there? Purge the undesirable elements? Eugenics? And who is to decide? It simply is not workable. Sorry to piss in your cornflakes friend, but the only way that human nature is to change is a nature ordains it over time.
 
Please provide me with one, just one, example of a socialist state that has succeeded in establishing a completely fair and equitable society. You cant, unless you make it up. Life is not fair. Not for us or for any other species. It never has been and it never will be. We can only strive for equal opportunity. An equal outcome for all can only be obtained as a result of the effort of the individual. Any attempt at forcing this into existence is akin to taking a 5 gallon pail to a 20, 000 gallon pool and scooping water one pail at a time from the deep end and transferring it to the shallow end until the water is at the same level for the entire length of the pool.
Barath Nagarajan Added Aug 2, 2017 - 5:07am
Unfortunately, the misapprehension came about that what made one good was whether they were rich or poor. It is only a quality or condition. A poor person can be bad, a rich man can be good.
   I have a friend who went to Brown University in Rhode Island from High School.  I graduated from the University of Rhode Island, we both had (Hindu, I'm not one) families from South India. She thought I had too much luxury growing up because I relied on my charm as a teenager.
    But, she grew up in the United States where she had the good fortune and the opportunity to go to an Ivy League school, whereas her relatives and people from India often have little opportunity. Often they are in many ways more capable and better persons than she was.
   It's only fair because the Lord places a person in that condition, otherwise color, beauty, tall, short, rich or poor, fat, skinny,where you were born, are just material conditions we are often born into that have nothing to do with being better than anyone else.
John G Added Aug 2, 2017 - 5:26am
Well the Burglar's ranting is evidence of the propaganda of the capitalist state.
opher goodwin Added Aug 2, 2017 - 5:39am
Burghal - I think you are partly right and partly wrong. Yes there are always those greedy, selfish, sociopathic/psychopathic types. I've never denied that. But there are two reasons why I believe we are on the brink of being able to deal with them:
a. We can now identify these types with advanced psychometric testing
b. We can take compensatory action to correct their malignant behaviour
 
Many of these people have suffered traumas through bad parenting, divorce, death, abuse or violence. These psychological traumas can be treated. That gives me hope that with good caring education and social support we can build a far better, fairer society.
 
The Scandinavian countries seem to be on the right path to me. They have a socialist democracy that takes higher taxes and provides superior services. I was well impressed when I was there. There doesn't seem to be the obvious inequality and the standard of public services was exemplary - cycle paths, swimming baths, recreational areas, good housing, schooling and an orderly society - shame about the gloomy weather.
 
I have seen first hand in my school how one can change the ethos and make people happier and less aggressive, bring out the creative side and develop caring and compassion. I know it can be done on a larger scale. I am an idealist but I am also a pragmatist.
 
I am not suggesting a revolution - I would like society to evolve into a more peaceful, caring, equal society.
opher goodwin Added Aug 2, 2017 - 5:41am
Barath - I agree that it is not about wealth. There are genetic personality traits, upbringing, culture and religion as well as the circumstances of life.
As I'm an antitheist I do not believe in god but just good or bad fortune.
opher goodwin Added Aug 2, 2017 - 5:44am
John - capitalism and the establishment want us to believe that it is not possible to change the system. I don't believe that.
I wonder what would have happened in so many of the socialist states if they had not been actively and aggressively undermined from outside - particularly by the USA?
Barath Nagarajan Added Aug 2, 2017 - 6:11am
Opher:
I'm a theist, so let's consider the nature of good works.
     Let us take the case of a sculptor. A good sculptor produces a better work of art than a poor one. We attribute this to his skill, or genius. In any case there are three causes of success in one's undertakings: Chance, divine dispensation, effort. If everything relies on chance then no one could take credit for good works, or success, or a masterpiece. 
     One does not have control over destiny, or divine dispensation. One only controls their efforts.Thus success or achievement in any field would never be a result of your own merit if it only resided in the other two factors.
Thus no one would be able to take credit for any accomplishment that they have, and world would essentially be arbitrary and unjust as to who succeeded and who didn't, and an artist could never take credit for their good works.
   The Spiritual acts upon the material, the body is simply an inanimate thing without Spirit. One body is essentially the same as others, it isn't the body that makes you special.
opher goodwin Added Aug 2, 2017 - 6:26am
Barath - I don't agree with your assertion. Why do you say that there are only three possible causes for success?
For me the difference between genius and mediocrity is the result of genes, circumstance and effort. We are the product of our genetics and our environment. I see absolutely no evidence of divine intervention.
Life is arbitrary and unjust. That's the way it is. We have to maximise the opportunities that come along. As for success there is much luck involved - being in the right place at the right time - being seen by the right person - doing something that hits at the right moment - being flavour of the month. Many geniuses go unrecognised in their own time.
Barath Nagarajan Added Aug 2, 2017 - 6:42am
You would say DNA is a form of preordained dispensation, but actions and the results of Spiritual awakening are more powerful forces than destiny. There is much more to reality than what people know, what is material is only a small portion of reality.
The Burghal Hidage Added Aug 2, 2017 - 6:42am
Opher -
 
As I said before, we dont totally disagree. You are right in saying that it is an evolution and I'm saying the same. I think the main difference between us is that I prefer to let nature take its course ( which it will certainly do anyway), whereas you in your zeal for your ideals want to hurry it along a bit. Its a dirty job, but someone must do it :)
 
I note that other than your brief mention of Scandinavian countries you offer no shining examples of socialist successes, but still take the opportunity to blame the US (at least in part) for their failures. This is not offered as defense to what the US govt may or may not have done. Where socialist models have gone wrong they own their own failures. Scandinavia is in fact a case of the more evolutionary process and they are not purely socialist states. Capitalism still lives and works in these societies as witnessed by their many fine exports in demand around the world. In spite of our being a pack of philistines there are many fine quality Swedish goods sought after in this country. These are a result not of the state, but by for profit, capitalist ventures.
Barath Nagarajan Added Aug 2, 2017 - 6:48am
Genetics involves breeding. People bred horses and cattle long ago to get valuable Arabian horses, or certain breeds of cattle. Mendel's experiment with (pea plants) trees wasn't much of an innovation.
    In any case men(mankind) should be treated better than horses, or cattle or the common pea plant.
opher goodwin Added Aug 2, 2017 - 7:07am
Barath - there is much more to reality than we know or understand - that is true - but trying to explain the unknown by creating more unknowns (supernatural) doesn't answer anything.
opher goodwin Added Aug 2, 2017 - 7:08am
Burghal - it is hard to offer other examples - all other attempts - Sandinistas, Peron, Cuba - have been violently undermined by the USA.
opher goodwin Added Aug 2, 2017 - 7:09am
Barath - why should men be treated better?
opher goodwin Added Aug 2, 2017 - 7:10am
Barath - people did breeding of animals and plants but did not understand how it worked. Mendel came up with the laws.
The Burghal Hidage Added Aug 2, 2017 - 7:25am
Uh-huh. So what is your explanation for Venezuela? So I
suppose you're going to try to tell me that their collapse, empty store shelves and armies of their own people in a state of revolt is also the US doing? Really?
 
We have fuck all to do with it. It us their own failure. Lets not lie to ourselves. We both know how this works. If the US govt wanted to engineer the downfall of the Chavez/Maduro regime it would be done by the backing of a military coup and the installation of yet another junta. 
 
Its too easy to blame someone else. Socialism owns its own failures. Period.
Barath Nagarajan Added Aug 2, 2017 - 7:29am
People had free markets before Adam Smith, he didn't invent them, he only understood how they worked by observation. And if an apple rolled to me on the ground I wouldn't assume it was because of my magnetic gravitational force.
Dr. Rupert Green Added Aug 2, 2017 - 7:36am
Opher. Are we not from the stock of vicious animals who have been humanized with laws , mores , and religion? Some speak of atavism, where the viciousness of our animal past come out in some of us. I stop for animals, would take an insect that is trapped in my house and free it.  The roach has no chance, neither has a rat, nor a snake.  Yet in some societies, those creatures would be protected, if not eaten.  Are some conditioned based on society to be more violent and vicious than others? It is interesting that our religion is like laws. Laws are made based on the bad someone did.  Religion emerged out of the bad people did. Point to me a religion as well as a law that emerged because of goodness of human. 
Barath Nagarajan Added Aug 2, 2017 - 7:46am
No we came from the Lord who created us an wanted us to be good. It is only when men worshipped God in order to rule over others, that mankind became vicious.
opher goodwin Added Aug 2, 2017 - 8:06am
Burghal - Don't know enough about Venezuela - apart from the fact that it was an oil-based economy and oil prices have dived.
No - you are wrong - there are countless examples of US interference. I wonder what Cuba would have been like without the embargo? I wonder what the Sandinistas might have achieved? How many South American states have the US undermined?
opher goodwin Added Aug 2, 2017 - 8:08am
Dr Rupert - civilised with laws and mores - I don't see religion as much of a civilising force.
Buddhism.
opher goodwin Added Aug 2, 2017 - 8:08am
Barath - I don't believe any of that.
Barath Nagarajan Added Aug 2, 2017 - 8:19am
Opher:
     Well then according to Jonh Milton suffering is the greatest misfortune in life it would exceeds even death. If you are atheists why not just believe that scientists primary job is to help everyone who can be happy, able to be happy.
      If there is no God what difference does DNA science make unless it makes people able to be happier, more fulfilled. It's not important. Why should anyone care who is genetically better, there's no such thing, everyone dies and goes to non existence, there's no purpose to it, unless it serves the purpose of making everyone that can be happy be happy.
opher goodwin Added Aug 2, 2017 - 8:39am
Because that is not what scientists do - they investigate how things work.
I think we should use science to make us all happier. I'm all for that.
We are here in this moment - nothing more. That's fine with me.
I respect your right to believe what you want but I see no basis for it.
George N Romey Added Aug 2, 2017 - 9:03am
As our technology and science advances I think humans get fooled to thinking they are far superior to their ancestors and horrors of years gone by from plagues to economic meltdowns can be easily prevented.  Then whether its SARS (bird flu back around 2005) or the mortgage meltdown we are humbled that we still haven't got it quite right.  
Barath Nagarajan Added Aug 2, 2017 - 9:04am
Okay, but many people are willing to do whatever it takes including lying and cruelty and deception for themselves to to be happy, or to get what they want, not so that everyone can be happy. Thus they cause the beings of the world suffering and misery.
Barath Nagarajan Added Aug 2, 2017 - 9:09am
There are somewhere near 4.5 billion people in the world who believe in religion, including some scientists.
    Why do you see no basis for it? They're all crazy right? People have observed or experienced such things as religious phenomena or Spirit. 
   Why deny observation?
Katharine Otto Added Aug 2, 2017 - 11:40am
Opher,
This post sure has received a lot of response.  I guess it's human nature to hash out in intellectual terms all our reputed successes and failures.
 
One of my favorite sources relates our problems to the concept of original sin.  This belief that man fell from grace pits man against himself and nature.  Also, the social Darwinian concept that life is a competition for dominance, "survival of the fittest," has led us to underestimate our own abilities for creative growth.
 
If nature and man weren't basically cooperative, we wouldn't have lasted this long.  The belief in original sin leads us to think in terms of good and evil, black and white, right and wrong.  It makes us judgmental of ourselves and others.  Who's to say what is right or wrong?  
 
There is a difference between personal and delegated power.  Someone comfortable within her own skin does not need to own, control, or otherwise convert others.  Delegated power is always insecure, because that power can be withdrawn.  We delegate lots of power to others, like governments, then wonder why they abuse it.  Well?  
Barath Nagarajan Added Aug 2, 2017 - 12:54pm
Katharine:
   First, I would contend that biblically people believed that man(from the time of Adam) was given dominion over the world, and nature, to use as people chose. This belief set people apart from nature, and in fact antagonized beings in the world.
    Second, I would disagree. In nature there is good and evil. Birds don't like insects, or snakes, harmful moths, caterpillars, detritus. They get rid of them. That's their job, they don't necessarily like it though. Birds don't cooperate with reptiles, or moths. Though birds and bees cooperate in pollinating flowers, they don't mind each other.
     Nature loves what is good, wholesome, caring and just.
In terms of power or authority,take for example Catholic Church policy on communion. They don't allow Protestants or non believers to take communion. In essence you have to earn or have the right to take sacrament(by having faith, being good), or the Spiritual benefit is not bestowed upon you.
The Burghal Hidage Added Aug 2, 2017 - 4:05pm
George - i am of precisely the same mind.nature will always humble us
 
Katherine - exactly right on power. As stoney reminds us its not the isms, its the people. When one is willing to entrust their fate to the authority of others there should never be any surprises. When you surrender sovereignty to unaccountable authority you should only be surprised if you are not abused
John G Added Aug 2, 2017 - 4:23pm
If anyone thinks that Venezuela isn't under economic warfare and subversion by the USA, I've got a nice bridge to sell them.
George N Romey Added Aug 2, 2017 - 4:25pm
Animals adapt to their surroundings and live life as nature intended. What we do to our minds and souls in the form of stress, diet, and lack of physical activity is contrary to our intended state of mind and body.  We sit hunched up hours a day in front of a computer screen stressed like hell because we are being harassed to get out numerous spreadsheets or some other thing not worth ant piss in the entire scheme of things.  No wonder so many of us are becoming psychopaths, particularly as we move up the corporate ladder.  
 
No surprise that when scientists look at the "blue zones" (places where people tend to live over 100 years) they see people that are well socialized, active, removed from modern stress and tied to community and family.   Unfortunately for them modern technology and the never ending search for an extra buck anywhere will probably make them as daffy as the rest of us.  
The Burghal Hidage Added Aug 2, 2017 - 5:37pm
George-
 
I started life as a long hair (almost like Opher!) then got an honest job as a wireman. A good trade, but got boring, migrated from that to electrical sales. I built a successful agency, helped to develop two companies to manufacture electrical safety equipment and cashed out my shares within a few years. In all the time I did this I was always more comfortable with the shopworkers and the tradesmen. I had to deal with a lot of the corporate climbers and found them all to be the same. Same cars, same suits, same tassled loafers. Their entire lives revolved around sales forecasts and golf courses. I could chat up one of our maintenance guys with grease up to his elbows and shake hands with him and come away feeling less dirty then sitting through a 45 minute lunch with a pack of those suits. 
 
When I cashed out I continued to get calls from the industry trying to entice me to regional VP this or director of that and I had no trouble saying no. I occasionally do some consulting work of my own choosing and probably wont even do that much longer.
 
I walked among them but I was never one of them. Never wore a suit or played a single round of golf. Ive seen an industry go from the old hands who like me had worked in the field to a bunch of number crunchers who only know selling and could give a shit about their customers. Every day is about "how are we going sell them shit that they dont need because that is what is on our shelf".
 
I worked in products that had an actual value, things that provided the electrical professional with a way to get their job done safely. My job was always about giving the wireman what he needed, not what I needed to sell him.
For the past five years I've had more interaction with my dog and frankly its been more mental exercise than spending five minutes with one of those suits.
George N Romey Added Aug 2, 2017 - 6:22pm
TBH you are the kind of owner I've always have wanted to work for. Sadly your breed is dying quick with the advent of the professional CEO crowd.  I get frustrated because when I go to learn about the business from line manages I'm told that's not needed.  Like I might get a disease walking among the packers, forklift drivers and foremen. I might a role in a small start up. The owner is trying to line up more seed money in the plan of taking me on.  I really want to get away from the Excel dumb down bots that have the social interaction skills of your typical snake.  
Saint George Added Aug 2, 2017 - 6:30pm
Reality isn't a curse - reality is a wonder.
 
Then human nature is a wonder, too, because human nature is part of reality.
 
Therefore, there is no "curse" of human nature.
The Burghal Hidage Added Aug 2, 2017 - 8:14pm
Same happened to me George. I just got tired of it. I had always worked in the field as either a wireman or an agent. As more of the old timers hung up their spurs I became increasingly aware of the deficiencies in the new crop. We just did not speak the same language. I was presented with the opportunity to take a role in the start ups and was reluctant at first. Initially I had agreed to these to get the hell away from other agents. In the new role I found that these vermin were everywhere. Thats when I decided that I would ride these companies until the wind was in their sales and making a profit then cash out my shares with the other partners and I was done. Best decision I ever made. I'm in better shape than I was twenty years ago and I dont need to impress anyone. Except my dog and he doesnt ask much :)
Tamara Wilhite Added Aug 3, 2017 - 10:56pm
If you look at deep history, the rate at which people are murdered and raped is going down worldwide, Islamic theocracies excepted. Rape is, barring Boko Haram and ISIS, no longer accepted spoils of war. Leave Chicago and Caracas, and it is rare to see weekend activities result in murder. Horrific child abuse that was considered the norm a thousand years ago lands you in jail in the developed world. We can afford to care about animal rights because our lives are comfortable enough to expand morality beyond humans to other species. If you're starving, the morality of how you slaughter the animal you caught is a luxury you cannot afford. 
The irony of the micro-aggressions issue on campuses and "unconscious bias" is that it is an admission that the BIG issues are resolved for us in the developed world. That they fixate on petty stuff means the big stuff of three generations ago is fixed.
Humans are getting better at developing proxies for their baser instincts. Blood lust shifts from gladiator games to the death to MMA matches. Actual lust is mediated by porn and, lord help us, sex dolls.
Tamara Wilhite Added Aug 3, 2017 - 10:59pm
The totalitarian impulse does remain and concerns me. The problem right now is the shift of authoritarian control from "strength, unity, power" to "we're love, tolerance, good, and so you can't say or do these things, you're bad if you don't, shame on you, death threats and cost you your job if you don't".
Yet liberal digital lynch mobs are still more civilized than actual lynch mobs, venting the same hate as Islamic mobs chasing down an atheist to murder (happens in Pakistan with depressing regularity), but barring a few college campus incidents, physical violence by social justice warriors' mobs is rare.
opher goodwin Added Aug 4, 2017 - 3:34pm
Katharine -  I agree - we are basically cooperative. We work in teams. That's how we are successful and that takes trust.
opher goodwin Added Aug 4, 2017 - 3:38pm
Barath - I don't think those 4.5 billion people are crazy. I think a lot of them are indoctrinated from birth and it is human nature to look for patterns and solutions. I believe Religion is manmade, mainly about power, and was created to provide answers to impossible questions.
It is a comfort to many and has been the source of huge conflict and misery. I contend we are better off without it.
I have not experienced anything that would lead me to believe in a god. If I had I would probably believe. I have read accounts of other people and find nothing that convinces me.
opher goodwin Added Aug 4, 2017 - 3:40pm
Saint - Human nature is a wonder and a curse. They are not mutually exclusive.
opher goodwin Added Aug 4, 2017 - 3:41pm
Tamara - you are right - we are getting much better and far less violent - except when it comes to butchering nature.
Tamara Wilhite Added Aug 4, 2017 - 8:40pm
I had to explain to my son what happened to all the megafauna like mammoths, moas, giant sloths. Answer - we ate them all, that that was thousands of years before industrial civilization, so no, you cannot blame the biggest extinctions on global warming.
The Burghal Hidage Added Aug 4, 2017 - 8:54pm
Tamara - dont tell him he cant! Now he'll never let it go!:)
 
opher goodwin Added Aug 5, 2017 - 4:55am
Tamara - that is true. We wiped out the mega fauna and the carrier pigeon and dodo. We hunted them to extinction. That is tragic. But in the big scheme of things it is nothing compared to the extinctions we are presently overseeing with the smaller creatures. Global warming, deforestation, hunting, fishing and pollution are destroying habitats and wreaking havoc on a scale that is unprecedented.
opher goodwin Added Aug 5, 2017 - 4:56am
TBH - I'll never shut up about the terrible damage and misery I see around me on the planet. We humans are murdering scum.
The Burghal Hidage Added Aug 5, 2017 - 8:07am
LOL....I know you wont.
opher goodwin Added Aug 5, 2017 - 8:11am
I hope you are writing that novel!!
The Burghal Hidage Added Aug 5, 2017 - 8:42am
Hope to spend time on that the rest of this weekend, though I may have some clean up chores awaiting me. I've monitored the weather back home and there were some very high winds on Thursday. I may have quite the mess. Hope not.
 
Funny how things work out. The tree fell before the storms. The difference between dying in ones sleep and falling to a violent force.
opher goodwin Added Aug 5, 2017 - 9:20am
Burghal - I wonder which it preferred?
The Burghal Hidage Added Aug 5, 2017 - 3:51pm
For all that tree lived I doubt it mattered much. Whether by age and gravity or by storm she would have been parcelled up just the same. Are we in the wrong thread? :)
opher goodwin Added Aug 5, 2017 - 3:56pm
Burghal - we're always in the wrong thread! That's life.
Barath Nagarajan Added Aug 5, 2017 - 9:47pm
Opher:
     I find my religion to be more. I was never indoctrinated as a Child. My dad earned his Ph.D. in physics from Carnegie Mellon University. He's a scientist, he never forced me to believe in religion.
I found my religion at a later age. No religion really appealed to me as a kid.
     I find my religion to be an inspiration to higher ideals, faith, nobility, virtue, beauty, work, even heroism. 
   " What are we without faith in our hearts that one day we'll drink from God's blessed waters, and eat the fruit from the vine..
"May the Saints blessing embrace carry us home,"
Across the Border
Bruce Springsteen 
opher goodwin Added Aug 6, 2017 - 8:55am
Barath - I'm glad it is a comfort to you. I don't know what your faith is but it obviously works for you.
I was reminded of Loudon Wainwright's Glad to see you've got religion which I always found amusing.
I'm glad to see you've got religion
I'm glad to see you've gone to god
I'm glad to see you've straightened all your lines
And you've evened out your odds

I'm glad to hear you say you're happy
I'm glad to hear you say it's good
I'm glad to hear you say you're finally undoing
All the things they know we should

Me I'm still in trouble
sorry sick and sad
Me I'm still in trouble
But that's alright cuz I'm

Glad to see you've gotten careful
About the things you eat and drink
I'm glad to see you gotten choosy
About the things you do and think 


Barath Nagarajan Added Aug 6, 2017 - 10:00am
Opher:
     A lot of people are sorry, sick and sad. I don't know how to fix it. But, others have found faith, love and inspiration. I know some of them. 
     The world isn't really a good place right now, in fact it's cruel, mean and it sucks, but it's really been that way for some time.
    I didn't find God, the minute a friend told me the truth about my religion, that it had been changed, I knew right away and went about discovering what it really said, and I'm still learning about it everyday.
      That was probably the best thing that ever happened to me and it came out of misfortune.
     "You're having a hard time and lately you don't feel so good, you're getting a bad reputation in your neighborhood...it's alright sometimes that's what it takes, you're only human you're supposed to make mistakes"..." You probably don't want to hear the advice of someone else, but I wouldn't be telling you if I hadn't been there myself"
Billy Joel     
opher goodwin Added Aug 6, 2017 - 10:48am
Barath - I think the world has been messed up ever since humans started messing with it big time. But I'm doing OK. I'm just trying to make it a little better.
Barath Nagarajan Added Aug 6, 2017 - 11:00am
Opher:
     What I meant people feel the World is going into a form of dissolution. People feel miserable, but in my life I've found people loved me and found love and inspiration in what I told them and they wanted to be good.
So often people have everything, but they feel their life sucks, or that it is meaningless. Then they wanted to be good and they found their life was really sweet and the world has romance.
opher goodwin Added Aug 6, 2017 - 11:29am
Barath - is that a psychological shift from negative to positive?
Barath Nagarajan Added Aug 6, 2017 - 12:22pm
No, it's just my observation and experience, but I wasn't implying something about how you feel necessarily, happy, sad or miserable, but about people I know, as well as what's going on in the world and in American society.
    Also others have expressed to me that they aren't happy, and I've seen the mean side of people too, so I wanted address that in general and also that I've been there myself.
Katharine Otto Added Aug 6, 2017 - 12:52pm
Opher,
I'm a visual thinker and imagine we all have what the Theosophists used to call "thought forms," meaning externalizations of thought.  What we focus on, especially with emotional intensity, becomes manifest in physical reality though "electromagnetic energy units," the basic stuff that forms the physical world. This is the basis of psychic perception, seeing auras and the like.  For the religiously inclined, it's a way of conceptualizing the "mind of God."
 
When lots of people share a variant of the same thought form, it grows more pervasive, such that entire groups or nations confuse the thought form with reality, but in fact, it is a belief about reality and not reality itself.
 
I wonder if the generalized thought form of anger, darkness and fear, perpetrated and intensified by the media, has hypnotized us into believing things are worse than they are, that humanity is condemned, that the situation is desperate and hopeless.  I believe you get what you focus on, and if you shift your focus, you can shift paradigms and find unpredictable answers to the questions.
opher goodwin Added Aug 7, 2017 - 4:28am
Barath - I'm not surprised people are unhappy given the state of the world and our means to access that misery.
opher goodwin Added Aug 7, 2017 - 4:31am
Katharine - I think that there is certainly an emphasis on the negative that has an effect on people's psyche. But, having travelled extensively I can see a huge amount of problems - poverty, war, environmental destruction, overpopulation. They need addressing.
I don't think it is hopeless or that we are condemned. We just need to focus on putting it right. That is the positivity for me.
Katharine Otto Added Aug 8, 2017 - 12:19pm
Opher,
 
Agreed, but I suspect you are an optimist among pessimists.  If we think of "problems" as "challenges," it does tend to affect the way we approach them, more open to out-of-the-box solutions.
 
I'm intrigued by the idea of "life force," which Orientals call "qi," but Westerners ignore.  "Science" has become its own kind of religion, but it's mechanistic approach doesn't answer the 'why?'s" that religion addresses. My view is that everything has its own kind of consciousness, and that consciousness grows from the inside out, like a seed or an embryo.  Thus does the universe expand.
opher goodwin Added Aug 8, 2017 - 1:33pm
Katharine - there are many things we do not understand - death is one of them. What makes an organism suddenly die? It's life-force halt? It fascinates me. I like the idea of qi.