Monday, February 7, 2011


Assume this: that the assumptions you make about human nature make all the difference in how you will experience your life, negatively or positively.

You might assume, in Thomas Hobbes’ words, that human life is nasty, brutish and cruel, if not always short.  Given that glum predisposition, you will readily find evidence and instances to substantiate your negative case, perhaps even citing the Old Testament tale of Eve and Adam’s fall from grace as divine testimony to our innately wayward nature.

More sunnily, however, you might, like Jean Jacques Rousseau and his fellow Romantics, assume the opposite: that we are born good, blessed with a disposition toward love and kindness, if only it is nurtured and encouraged from the start.

Unfortunately, the assumptions you have made may have been conditioned early on by the ways you and those near you were treated, either kindly or harshly; and therefore your early assumptions may be difficult to uproot and alter.  Such is the power of behavioral conditioning, particularly on the impressionable young.

Consider this, though (as the most revered and honored of the world’s wisdom teachings urge): that a life dedicated to loving-kindness, to the assumption of our natural goodness of will, is happiest, and that humanity’s professed “pursuit of happiness” can be satisfied only by exhibitions and demonstrations of humane, not harmful, behaviors.

While evidence abounds of manunkind’s atrociousness at our worst and the prevalence of mortal sins; the evident counter instances of charity, reconciliation, forgiveness and self-sacrifice attest to a nobility and godliness potential in our natures that, given opportunity and nurture, can redefine our nature fundamentally in ways that sanity prefers.

We are happy when we’re good.