On the Human Condition
Human beings are selfish and wicked, devious and sly. We befriend only when it benefits us and we take from others more than we share, especially when we think we won’t be found out. Humans kill, steal and cheat more than they show kindness or tell the truth. But all that negativity does not mean humans are fundamentally bad or in need of a higher power.
Some people treat the human proclivity for sneaky behavior as if one day we will all wake up to find it has all been a bad dream, that human nature is destined to great ideals, and that we are all meant to get along together like one big happy family. Instead, human nature, like all of nature, is bound up in principles that have nothing to do with a grand purpose, religious morality, or a spirituality.
Right and wrong, good and bad, love and evil are human concepts adopted to help us live our lives, and have nothing to do with why we exist. Human nature is the evolution of natural selection. DNA mixing, morphing, reproducing and directing the structures of life. At its most basic levels, DNA is a cost-benefit blueprint for constructing and operating every organism’s decision making process for reproduction and survival.
We are who we are because of who our ancestors were in the environments within which they existed. We can be altruistic when its suits our genetic requirements or devastatingly genocidal.
It is not human nature to love one another. We love for purposes that aid our quest for continuity. It is not human nature to be good or bad, but to respond to situations in ways that the cost we expend in energy does not exceed the reward intended.
In its simplest form, we are “tit for tat” beings not a nightmare of exploitation by ruthless maximizers of fitness. We are capable of sham and pretense to get our way, but we can also perform monumental sacrifices in an effort of kindness.
Evolution has provided human beings with a mind with many components that accommodate both the ugly and the sublime. We are capable of thinking the worst thoughts and then never carrying them out. The human mind is capable of predicting the consequences of our actions. It remains to be seen how capable our minds are of learning to follow our predictions, make the best decisions, and then proceed with the proper actions.
As human minds are capable of great thoughts, these same minds are capable of fooling their own prediction mechanism, of making faulty decisions and of acting improperly. Our minds are equally capable of fooling ourselves as they are in outfoxing our neighbors. In fact the greatest danger to our survival is the mental capability of bypassing mental effort in order to fantasize on the rewards of a pseudo world of comfort and convenience, of solutions without effort, and of belief in authority without question. We can be our own lifesavers or doomsday machines, depending on how well we use our own mental capacity for clear thinking. The human condition is the human capacity to face utter devastation and annihilation and learn from experience to find a better alternative.