Human Beings: Essentially Good, or Essentially Bad?

Let me try to sum up everything that I'm about to say in about three words: people are weird.

Yeah, that'll about do it.

People en masse, as a collective group, are a lot of things.

People en masse are responsible for a lot of terrible things in this world. And when I say that, I'm not trying to call out any one, specific person, I'm talking about humanity in general.

Things like war, murder, and poverty, for example, are a human invention.

Abuse, whether that be sexual, physical, or emotional, is a human invention.

Oppression is a human invention.

It is not nature that ensures that injustices keep happening in the world every single day of our damned lives; that's the work of people. That, too, is a human invention.

People can be angry and selfish and cruel. They can hold onto grudges, they can take their frustrations out on the wrong person. They can be downright frustrating, and sometimes not when you're willing to have much for patience at the time.

And with all of that, I get it; sometimes it can be hard to keep your faith in humanity. Sometimes it is very difficult to think of people en masse as a positive thing, as something that you feel particularly inclined to like. But whenever I hear someone say that they hate people, or that they want to move to the middle of nowhere to escape from people, I can't help but think that they are only seeing one side of a much larger, much more complex picture.

Yes, there are people who commit atrocious crimes against their fellow human beings, but there are also so many people out there who want to do some good. There are hundreds of people everyday who join in marches, who contact politicians, who form groups based entirely around helping their fellow human beings. There are doctors out there trying to save lives, volunteers in foreign countries trying to get food and health care to people who need it, activists who you might not agree with but at the end of the day they are fighting with everything that they have because they want to help people. They want to make the world a better place.

Yes, there are devastating disasters in the world caused by people and their hatred for someone or something. There are bombings and shootings, but there are also people in those disasters who die to save their loved ones, there are first aid responders who are there specifically because they want to make the situation better.

Yes, there are rude, selfish, narrow-minded people who will treat you poorly, but there are also kind people who will offer you a hand, people who will smile at you on the street for no other reason than because they want to make the world a friendlier place.

And the thing that I love most about people is that it is completely possible for them to be both extremes, the positive and the negative.

The selfish person who yells at you unfairly can also be the person who dies in a shooting trying to save their loved one. The doctor who wants nothing more than to save lives in their day-to-day work might then go home and be selfish and emotionally abusive to their family.

We as human beings like to think of things as being black or white, as being one thing or the other, but that is never the case. All people are flawed, but all people have their strengths at the end of the day too. And maybe that's part of the reason why some have the tendency to say that they hate people or that they'd rather avoid them altogether; they focus in on the bad, and they forget to notice the good that is definitely there as well. But it is really, really important that we at least notice both: the bad, so that we can learn from that and make sure we never personally repeat it, and the good, so that we can remember to have hope, so that we never give up on them or on people en masse.

And as human beings who wants everything to be either one way or another, I know that this can sometimes be a very difficult thing to do; I am aware that I am asking you to look at one thing in two different ways, praising the good while simultaneously condemning the bad, and that can be very complicated, especially emotionally. But nonetheless, it is something that we as a society need to start doing more often. Because if the amount of people who have told me that they hate people and they want to move out into the middle of nowhere to avoid them have taught me anything, it's that it is very easy to give up on something once you have decided that their negative side is the only side they have. And we can't give up. Giving up is very dangerous.

Giving up on people results in their own mistreatment, in them being treated like they don't matter when they do. They are still people, after all.

And giving up on humanity en masse means that humanity en masse loses one more person who could have made a difference, one more person who I know just wants to help people, but who has become disillusioned by how difficult that can be sometimes.

Real, societal differences are never made by giving up, by deciding that there is only bad in a situation so why bother to encourage the good?

There is both, and there will always be both. The world is not black or white, good or evil; the world is what you make of it.

Published by Ciara Hall

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