I’m stuck constantly between two mindsets, one that mankind is beyond help, and the other that we can be better if we wanted to. I will fight for one perspective or the other until I’m exhausted, depending on how I feel.
Only the insulated and naive can possibly believe that the world is nice place, that people can be nice, that those of us who don’t rape, kill or steal are somehow defeating some inner demons and are therefore evolved.
Only the pessimistic and bitter can possibly believe that human nature is inherently evil, that we are all so bad deep down that even acts of apparent kindness are done for selfish ends.
I see so much love and so much pain, and I don’t even see the worst or best of it. You only have to look at statistics to see how many people are deprived of their dignity every day, every second, to see how many people lose their homes, how children die every single day because of something as simple as not having enough to eat.
And then people keep going because of that one or two moments of tenderness we receive, a hug, a kiss, a kind word. If we’re lucky enough to have someone we’re in love with, we can stave off the bad things by making love and holding hands and holding their face as we kiss them. Friends can provide support, solidarity, companionship and community.
Do I open my heart to the love, and accept that as the only eventuality, or do I perceive just the hate in the world, just for the sake of being ‘realistic’? Those comforts we hold close seem so temporary, but as people we seem to desperately gather up and hold on to them no matter what, for fear of losing the one thing that keeps things sane.
I try to look back over history and see for a time when people were not killing other people, but I can’t find it. Neither has mankind ever been without love.
Our lives are stricken with duality, how we, as Dawkins put it, can see both the complexity of a tiger, admire it’s functions and yet see it as a whole. Yet I cannot, against my best efforts I cannot allow brutality and love to stand next to each other, it’s either one or the other.
The duality of human nature is evident in my fascination for the beautiful engineering and complexity of firearms, and yet I am sickened when I am reminded of its purpose. The admirable tasks of logistics, planning and management of a war, less, a battle. The breathtaking fluidity of a phalanx when it wheels into the flank of the opposition, and yet the brutality that follows.