I’ve heard philosophers and theologians, among others, debate whether humans are inherently good or evil. Some claim that we are inherently evil and it requires some outside influence, such as religion or cultural expectations, to do good. Others claim that within each of us, without external action, there is the desire to do good.
I think that the phrasing of the question is the problem. We should instead ask, “Are humans naturally self-centered or communal?” Do we value the good of others more than purely personal benefit?
I don’t believe that we’re born one way or the other, but the priority of self vs. others is learned. Some learn a sense of community from the community itself, whether that is family, a religious organization, or another inclusive group. The key is whether a person can see something as more important than him or herself.
One of the most highly trusted groups today is the US military. On one hand, this may seem surprising because the purpose of the military is to kill people and break things. On the other, the members of the military are willing to die for a purpose they perceive as greater than themselves. While each service member defines their own values, their service starts with an oath to the US Constitution.
On the other hand, there are people who view life in terms of “What’s in it for me?” They, too, learned this. Some learned from family, business, or others who valued self first. Others may have learned it from a society that rejected them and they feel no obligation to such a society.
What have you learned? What are you teaching others?
Good day, sir or madam. My name is Diogenes and I am so pleased to meet you.
Over a few millennia, things change and even I must adjust. In my experience, it is by acting outrageous that I attract attention to my philosophy. I lived in a sewer, for crying out loud, and carried a torch in the daylight to be noticed, but now, to be outrageous, one needs to be . . . . . .. .
Okay, I get it. Please tell me what truly interests you. I promise to listen intently.
Now, admit it–don’t you feel like a rebel? A libertine? A threat to society? All by sharing a thought in a polite manner?
Weird, isn’t it?
In the Blues Brothers, once they’re both out of jail, they attempt to Get The Band Back Together and they find one of their musicians who is a maître de at a restaurant. They set out to embarrass him until he rejoins the band.
At one point, John Belushi looks at the people at a nearby table and in a foreign accent says, “How much for the women? The girl? How much for the girl?”
The maître de knows he’s trapped and agrees to rejoin the band; the Blues Brothers then leave the restaurant.
I have to admit that this scene flashed through my mind, recently, when your president asked, “How much for Greenland? The Island? How much for the island?”
I liked Belushi better.
Thirty-three days until the autumnal solstice when I either fish or cut bait, depending on how many reader.
I’ve spoken. I’ve written. I’ve done what you would call “performance art.” All this has taken centuries.
Let me put that in perspective. Your father’s birth to your death might be around a century. Now multiply that by 20 or 30. Got it? Good.
I resorted to walking around in daylight carrying a lighted lamp claiming to be looking for an honest man. THAT is how desperate I was and am for exposing the truth. However, sooner or later, when one is not successful, it is wise to give up and seek another course.
I’ve been writing here (wherever here is) for over a year. Being dead, I do not have Twitter, Facebook, or whatever, nor do I want them. I have always fallen victim to the belief that people would seek the truth; if I were a video game, that might be true.
Bottom Line: If you want me to keep writing, do what you can to get others to follow this blog. If there aren’t sufficient people interested in what I have to say by the Autumn Equinox, I will cease writing and take my efforts elsewhere.
If few respond, then I must believe that people prefer the sensational and inconsequential to the truth.
The ball–as you say–is in your court. I’ll be napping in my sewer (look it up if you don’t believe me).
Bot too long ago, I wrote a
sarcastic parody about the Statue of Liberty, suggesting that it no longer stood for the ideals it once did. I never suspected that one of the members of the White House Theatrical Society, which includes all the “acting” federal officials, would steal my idea without at least attributing the source.
Ken Cuccinelli, Acting Director of US Citizenship and Immigration Services has decided that immigration should only be available to those who can stand “on their own two feet.”
Of course, that was the standard when thousands of black Africans were brought here as slaves.
When the Irish fled starvation and the Jews fled persecution.
Oh, and may I add for the benefit of Mr. Cuccinelli that his ancestors may have arrived during the significant immigration of Italians, who fled their home country because “decades of internal strife had left a legacy of violence, social chaos, and widespread poverty. The peasants in the primarily poor, mostly rural south of Italy and on the island of Sicily had little hope of improving their lot.”
Thank heaven that the people of Guatemala, Venezuela, Syria, aren’t facing such problems.
Ken, you can send my royalty checks to any charity that supports the poor in spirit, those who mourn, the meek, the hungry, the pure of heart, the peacemakers, and those who are persecuted.
Your alleged “Land of the Free” is being conquered as we speak.
It is being conquered by hate.
There were three mass shootings this week–two this weekend–and there is still most of Sunday to go. The Romans, Visigoths, Huns, and the others I have seen were vicious, but your domestic terrorists are giving them a run for their money.
In case you hadn’t noticed, the citizens (this means you) are losing.
- There is a climate of hate that not only tolerates, but promotes hate. Hate is not the absence of love, it is an powerful, active, evil force all its own.
- The common courtesies and mannerisms that mark a civilized culture are absent. People are comfortable saying outrageous things. Instead of intellectual discourse, people shout at one another and call each other vile names.
- Your media focuses primarily on the negative. Look at an alleged “news source” online. How many negative stories? How many days do negative stories stay on the website compared to positive ones?
- The terrorists–and potential terrorists–know that this is the way to get international fame for their name, face, and/or political manifesto. Someone who shoots a lot of innocent people is more newsworthy that someone who finds a cure for cancer.
What are you doing to defend your country? Your culture? Your ethics? Your beliefs?
“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”
― Edmund Burke.
Sacred writings of the various religions around the world and throughout history provide guidance for living a good and fruitful life. Many of the different writings provide similar directives; in fact, some are not only in various scriptures, but also in the common parlance. An example is the Golden Rule:
Do to others as you would have them do to you.
Unfortunately, scripture is often seen as a buffet from which “believers” can pick and choose which thoughts to ignore and which thought to accept. Some use their chosen quotation to justify decidedly unchristian behavior.
I have heard many self-proclaimed Christians who are vehemently opposed to immigration, even when it is the only hope for people who are in danger of their life.
They pontificate their justification. They endorse obvious falsehoods from their political leaders. They use both scripture and politics to justify their personal bias.
I was born—and died—long before Jesus was born, so I was not in a position to be a Christian. However, your Christ was a devout Jew and read the Tanakh, the Jewish scripture, which is nearly identical to the Christian Old Testament. The Tanakh includes the Torah, the five Books of Moses (including Exodus) and the Nevi’im.
Both Christian and Hebrew scripture contain this advice:
Exodus 22: 21 “Do not mistreat or oppress a foreigner, for you were foreigners in Egypt. 22 “Do not take advantage of the widow or the fatherless. 23 If you do and they cry out to me, I will certainly hear their cry. 24 My anger will be aroused, and I will kill you with the sword; your wives will become widows and your children fatherless.
 Luke 6: 31