I find myself being repulsed by things in other people that I’m blinded to in myself.
Classically, there’s been two main views of human nature as it relates to morality: (1) that we are all basically good and inherently moral creatures, and even the “bad” people have good in their roots, and (2) the view that there is something wrong with all of us… That we are not in fact basically good, but have an unnatural tendency inside of us to put ourselves before other people. I’m no scholar, but I would imagine that ethical philosophers will debate this question on into eternity. Some argue that the preservation of self is merely a “survival instinct,” and therefore cannot be considered a matter of right or wrong. There are some who also argue that this survival instinct is necessary for the propagation of the human race and therefore cannot be considered right or wrong.
Any they, of course, are right …if indeed the propagation of the human race is the highest good.
I, on the other hand, am of the belief that if we were all to allow human nature to play out to its logical conclusions, we would not find humanity to be basically good but would find that we are all out for our own good. History can testify to the death, the wars, the genocide, and the chaos this causes….man’s ‘inhumanity’ to man.
Most people try, at least on some level, to be good. Anyone who has tried good morals and even maybe succeeded for a long time realizes that there’s something within that fights against it, and that every now and again in secret places that something wins over our morals. They realize that there’s something selfish about the whole pursuit…something that, were we backed into a corner and asked to choose our morals or our life, we’d revert back to self-preservation with very little hesitation.
At this point something profound happens. We’re faced with the reality that we are helpless to break the cycle, and the fear that maybe we are doomed to forever be the greatest perpetrators of the things we find so repulsive in others. At this point, a new, all-pervasive question enters our mind:
Can anything save me from myself?
The pursuit of the answer to this question changes everything.