Are Human Beings Inherently Good or Evil?

by: E.A.M.

The nature of humankind has been explored endlessly, with no definitive answers. What people believe the nature of humans to be is a very personal belief. That belief is shaped by the religion they follow, the culture they grew up in, and by their life experiences. What people believe has a large im[act on the way they live their lives. It is the opinion of this writer that people are inherently good.

This writer's opinion that people are inherently good has developed gradually over time. One reason for this viewpoint is the fact that I believe we are all created in God's image by God to serve him. If that is truly the case, then I feel htat people would be inherently good, as God is. It is this writer's belief that God would not create someone who was inherently evil. People do sin, and some people could even be considered 'evil,' but overall I feel that most people do try and lead a good life by being kind to others and helping those in need.

Another reason for my belief is the culture that I have grown up in. This may seem strange, since many people ocmplain htat our society is too filled with violence and other 'bad' things. However, the very presence of such arguments about our society shows this writer that most people do not find violence an appropriate solution and in fact are disgusted by it. By showing their displeasure at violent programming or acts, society tells people what it ruly values: love and peace. If violence did not bother people, then there would not be the debate that exists today. Therefore, the belief that people are inherently good is supported by the culture that I grew up in.

The experiences that one has throughout their life also shape their belief. In my life, I have had many experiences that reinforce my belief that people are inherently good. I have seen people unselfishly helping others in many circumstances. Many people give blood to save some stranger they will never meet. A woman just donated part of her liver to a young girl she did not know so that the girl could live. These people undergo pain to help others; with no reward for themselves other than knowing they did a good thing. When people have tragedy strike them, the community will surround them with support. One example was the floods in 1993. The waters displaced many people in my hometown, and the community came out to help them with many different things, from food to clothing to shelter. In daily life, one can usually find many examples of people helping people, and this has been an important factor in shaping my belief. If people were not good, then I do not feel that one would be able to find these things occurring with such frequency.

What people believe the nature of humankind to be has a dramatic impact on the way that they live their lives. I feel that because people are inherently good, they should be allowed more freedom than they are sometimes given, as I think that in most cases people will not do things to harm themselves or others. For example, laws are important, but most of them simply reinforce the ideas of most people that certain behaviors are wrong. Most people would never kill anyone, so a law saying it is wrong to kill really necessary? I do believe that people should be punished if htey do wrong, but I feel the death penalty is not a deterrent to crime. By the time someone has gotten to the point that they are going to kill someone, I would think that they have lost respect for other people and also for themselves, so it would not be a deterrent. Instead, I feel that even without laws most people would be kind to each other and would not set out to purposely harm another person. I also believe in freedom in personal relationships. My parents allowed me a great deal of freedom growing up, and I feel this was due to the shared belief that people are inherently good and are not going to look for trouble. If humans were evil, people would not be able to trust others.

One problem in believing that people are inherently good is trying to find a reason for all the 'evil' things in the world. While I believe that people are inherently good, I do realize that there is a capacity for 'evilness' in people. I know that, eithe rby events in their lives or other causes I do not understand, people will not always be good, but in my view this is the exception to the norm. There are a large number of people in prison for example, but when viewed against the total population it is really quite a small percentage.

The way one view the nature of human beings is very important as it shapes the way they look at their world. In this case, I must disagree with the Amish teaching, as I feel that people are inherently good. Most people will choose to be good over evil, and will help thier fellow human beings without asking what they are to get from their actions. While there is evil in the world, it is the exception to the norm, and overall it is this writer's opinion tha tmost people iwlls trive to maintain an orderly and peaceful world.