I started thinking about this perennial question again after studying a post at another blog. Given the sickening war in Ukraine (and other ongoing conficts which for the most part go unmentioned in the “news”), the human-caused degradation of our mother the Earth, the themes of violence running through much of what we create as entertainment, the worldwide erosion of democratic ideals, rampant materialism, tribalism, etc., I can see why someone might say that we’re inherently evil.
As you probably know, it’s not that simple. Here’s the comment I posted at that blog.
It’s easy (perhaps too easy) to think of our species as inherently evil, especially when we witness the horrific pain we inflict upon one another through war, corporate greed, intolerance, willful ignorance, etc. However, this isn’t an either-or Hobbes (We’re born bad to the bone) vs. Rousseau (We’re born good until corrupted by society) matter. We’re way more complex than that, and I think that we can take some solace in the fact that most of us choose to act morally and righteously regardless of the attractions of power, materialism, and malignant egotism and sometimes at great cost to our personal comfort.
Rather than waste time debating whether we’re inherently good or evil, why not make the most of the many opportunities we have to do good–especially now to help neutralize the evil that some of us have done, are doing, and will do.