The Nature of Humankind is Good
By: Vineetha Joseph
(Is the human nature good or evil? Philosophers argued this point for centuries. Here Ms. Joseph argues that basic human nature is good. This is the notes
from a debate that she has won arguing this point. -Ed.)
Humans possess a certain essence within them when they are born. This essence is intangible and survives for the life span of a person. At birth, it is pure and undefiled. Throughout life it becomes tainted or polluted, but traces always remain. This immortal essence is the quality of good.
Philosophers have often debated if humankind is good or evil, but if it is true that this immortal essence is never lost, then the nature of humankind is truly good.
Last summer, I volunteered at a local hospital on the Pediatric Unit. It is where I held a six-month old child in my arms and heard how it was very possible that his mother abused him. As I looked at the small bundle, quietly sleeping in my arms, anger surged within me. At that moment, I believed the nature of humankind was evil. While this thought rushed through my mind, the baby stirred in my arms, drowsily looked at me, and went back to sleep. I felt as if a wave had just leaped onto my thoughts, grabbed them, and taken them into the ocean. If I believed that humankind was evil, then this infant I held in my arms would become evil or maybe was even evil already. It was an unbearable thought, but a feasible one. However, if humans were selfish pleasure seekers with no thoughts for others, then why do people sacrifice their lives? Why do they make decisions that actually give them less gain and others more benefit? The determination of a mother to run into a burning building to save her child or of a member of the Peace Corps to dedicate at least a year in his life to helping others are not actions of a truly evil
It is easy to say that the nature of humankind is evil, but actually much harder to state that it is good. Evil becomes a scapegoat in the reasoning of humankind. It can easily become the cause of why people commit crimes and actions deemed wrong by society. It leaves people in a position where they cannot control anything because no matter what they do, they are able to blame it on innate evil and not themselves.
Braver souls will admit that the nature of humankind is good. Only then is it possible to redeem actions because doing so will not go with the laws of nature.
But if the nature of humankind is good, why does evil occur in this world? The great Chinese philosopher Mencius said that society has a corrupting effect on humans and makes them lose or forget the goodness of the Child's Mind, but that it can be recovered. This philosophy gives hope for humanity. With an outlook of evil, one is limiting possibilities to do good with the feeble excuse that the innate quality cannot be removed.
Believing the nature of humankind is good also gives a goal for all human beings: to strive to purify or recover their essence of good.
Note: Vineetha Joseph (17) of Nutley NJ won the "THE MOST PHILOSOPHICAL STUDENT IN AMERICA" in the second annual kids philosophy debate held at Lanesboro Community Center Lanesboro, Minnesota. The title of the debate was "Is the human nature good or evil." Vineetha argued that the basic human nature was good.
Contributed By: Shaji Varghese