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  1. Wynter
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    Wynter Active Member

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    The Flaw of 'Humanity'

    Discussion in 'Debate Room' started by Wynter, Nov 23, 2014.

    Thinking of embedding this into my story and the more I think of it the more it seems to be sticking in my mind.

    We praise humanity as: (Dictionary.com)
    1.
    all human beings collectively; the human race; humankind.
    2.
    the quality or condition of being human; human nature.
    3.
    the quality of being humane; kindness; benevolence.

    And we see kind acts and say "Faith in humanity restored."

    But what is humanity? Mankind is a history plagued far more by violence than kindness, we have churches preaching peace yet we use those religions to justify war and death. It seems that everytime we praise 'humanity' we forget that every aspect of humanity has been based on death. Evolution saw those that did not evolve die, we kill animals for sport, driving many to extinction. War is the one constant of mankind since the dawn of time and we live in a system which forces billions to live in poverty so others can live comfortably.

    When history shows us to be monsters, how can we be so adamant in our 'goodness'?

    I'm not saying we cannot be kind, we have the potential to be, some people are kind, beautiful people yet history shows that Humanity as a sum is deplorable.

    Thoughts?
     
  2. Aled James Taylor
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    Aled James Taylor Contributing Member Contributor

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    I think people are essentially good by nature, but the political, economic, social and religious systems we have inverted have taken on a life of their own and are anything but human. Unfortunately, people have been taken in by these and often overwhelmed by them, to the extent that their basic humanity has been suppressed.
     
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  3. Link the Writer
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    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

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    I think we've focused so much on the negative that we forget that we can actually be positive. I'm reminded of a post I read in another forum that said, paraphrasing, "how low have our opinion of ourselves sunk that we see any good deed as exceptional? Every single one of us is capable of a good deed! It's not exceptional, it's as natural to us as violence is."

    Look at the news for a blatantly obvious example. 9 times out of 10, you're going to be bombarded with the cruelty and stupidity of humans and any mention of good things that would benefit us is drowned out. The rest are just stuff like 'watch this toddler play with an otter at the local zoo!' Cute, but it doesn't really help out humanity as a whole.

    Hell, look at the recent discussion with Michael Taylor. The man helped put a robot on a comet, yet the news is getting huffy and out of sorts over a quasi-offensive shirt.

    In short, I think we've conditioned ourselves to believing that humanity can never be good, that in the end, we're still the crap-flinging apes, only now with delusions that we're better. Look at our entertainment media like The Walking Dead, even they seem to be teaching us that if civilization disappears, we will revert to the psychopaths we really are while conveniently forgetting that after every disaster that had occurred, after every apocalypse (ie, the Black Plague, that extinction that wiped out most of humanity hundreds of thousands of years ago, etc.) humans got together and rebuild.

    Look, I'm not going to deny that humans had done pretty disgusting, sick things in the past, we're not saints by any stretch, but if we're so busy kicking ourselves, how can we possibly progress? If we believe ourselves to be monsters, then that leaves us with no room to grow, no room to advance as a species because we had conditioned ourselves to believe otherwise.
     
    Last edited: Nov 23, 2014
  4. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    I don't think this is actually true. Humans are born helpless and stay that way for a long time. If there was no kindness shown toward those babies, there'd be no humans alive. And as we grow, we really are pretty good at taking care of each other. 'History' may show lots of violence, but that's because we report on the anomalies, not the every-day events.

    - well, that's kind of a negative view of evolution. Maybe more like 'those who evolved were able to flourish? Same idea, but different framing leads to a different mindset

    Again, I don't think this is actually true. There are lots of other constants (some kind of family, the bonds of friendship, etc.). War is horrible and there's too much of it, but it's a breakdown of the system, not the system itself.
     
  5. Lemex
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    Lemex That's Lord Lemex to you. Contributor

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    I'm all for being positive about human beings, and the amazing things people can do. I don't actually believe good or evil actually exist, so human beings are I don't think inherently good or bad.

    I do think we are inherently idiots, though. There are exceptions, and sometimes we even notice them. Those are the reason to rejoice.

    The problem with humanity is our adrenaline glads are too big, our hands are too well adapted for violence, and our brains are just large enough to make weapons and invent complex concepts like government and economics. But our brains are not large enough to be kind to each other as much as possible, which would be unique in this cold, hostile and lonely universe.
     
    Last edited: Nov 23, 2014
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  6. Fitzroy Zeph
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    Fitzroy Zeph Contributing Member Contributor

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    I agree except that I think that your statement applies back to as far as histroy was recorded and then some. There always a few people, highly egotistical, and self serving, that depending on the laws of time, make life hell for everyone else.
     
  7. Link the Writer
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    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

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    Thought I needed to add one more thing:

    While I am quick to defend humanity when I think it's being unfairly kicked around, I'm also quick to condemn it and say that we're not going to make it another century because of our inconceivable stupidity and hatred. There are times I wonder why we filthy apes even bother trying, we're not worth saving from ourselves. If a gigantic comet was headed our way, it's not worth the trouble to stop it. Let it come.

    It's hard, when faced with hatred, bigotry and violence, to keep a smile on your face and say that we humans are actually worth it. That feeling, ironically enough, is very much human. Acknowledge it, understand it, and know that it's not shameful to think we're all idiots. We are, I'm actually amazed humans made it this far. That's pretty awesome. For all our faults, we're trying. We're like kids I think.

    That is my thinking on this. Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go scratch my hairy butt in a corner while I contemplate philosophy and the sciences. :p :D

    Edit: Well, not entirely my full thoughts. I'll add more when I have time.
     
    Last edited: Nov 25, 2014
  8. Lemex
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    Lemex That's Lord Lemex to you. Contributor

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    I think the biggest problem with people is they don't criticize themselves enough, and don't criticize others enough. And they don't criticize their situation. People are too placid and accepting in every aspect of life.
     
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  9. Shadowfax
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    Shadowfax Contributing Member Contributor

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    Is that a typo, or a conflation of invented and perverted?
     
  10. Shadowfax
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    Shadowfax Contributing Member Contributor

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    I think that people DO criticize others enough (and, as my old maths master would say, "when I say enough, I mean too much").

    I think that they don't accept criticism.
     
  11. Lemex
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    Lemex That's Lord Lemex to you. Contributor

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    Well, yes, people also don't accept criticism enough. People are far too happily to put blame onto someone else instead of using and learning from criticism. I do think that is really the core of the problem with humanity - not enough people are mature and intellectually competent enough to deal with the real world.

    Anyone who has any experience of driving has seen how many times the average person can mess up. How many of those people own up to messing up?
     
  12. GingerCoffee
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    You aren't taking into account what is in the historical record. A war gets recorded, you read about it centuries later. Run of the mill daily life does not get recorded for the most part.

    You are also taking the term, "humanity", which is typically used in the philosophical sense, and assigning it a biological meaning. Are humans good or evil would not be answerable because individuals vary. You could only describe the continuum of altruism, greed, kindness, cruelty, etc., which would then be complicated by all the external circumstances that affect our behavior.

    I think if you did a thorough analysis you'd find most people are kind/good most of the time. And there will always be a segment of the population that isn't, and circumstances that will cause kind/good people to be cruel/evil.
     
  13. 123456789
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    Humanity in general is defined by cowardism and group think. Sure, I think the majority(maybe60-80%) of normal individuals want to be nice, shyness and other minor detriments not withstanding, but the percentage of people who will stand up for what's right? Maybe .1% of the population ? That explains why you can't find a decent cop anywhere, and why when a girl gets gang raped, people just watch.

    As far as real thinkers go, the Orwells and the Socrates of the world, that's maybe another .1 % of the population?

    Let's look at the US'd sudden obsession with equality. Is that a result of a sudden spurt in natural altruism , or has our society been ingrained to think that way? Based on the emotional responses most individuals tend to have toward such concepts, I'd say it's the latter.
    So, I would say people in general are good, just very weak.
     
    Last edited: Nov 26, 2014
  14. Nilfiry
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    Nilfiry Contributing Member

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    Humanity is nothing but an illusion. It is an idea we grasp on so that we can have a sense of identity, purpose and place, but none of that sense comes from within the individual. It is just something we cling to because we have no idea who we are or what we are supposed to do otherwise.

    For example, if no one told you your name, origin, location, relations, etc., you would truly be lost indeed. However, as one can see, none of that information comes from the individual. They are all ideas put into the individual, like programming a robot, to give the individual a sense of self.
     
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  15. Aled James Taylor
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    Aled James Taylor Contributing Member Contributor

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    Yes, it's a typo. I meant to type 'invented'.
     
  16. Shadowfax
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    Shadowfax Contributing Member Contributor

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    I actually preferred it as a conflation!
     
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  17. Mckk
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    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Here's where I start quoting the Bible where it says,

    “There is no one righteous, not even one;
    11 there is no one who understands;
    there is no one who seeks God.
    12 All have turned away,
    they have together become worthless;
    there is no one who does good,
    not even one.”

    I think the adamance that we are somehow good comes because we can't stand to see the truth of how ugly we are sometimes. Just think Hitler - there were several of my friends whose anger went so far as to say Hitler wasn't human. It's almost as if to say he was human would be to lump ourselves in with him. If we were to start saying positive things about someone like Hitler, you'd be shot down so fast you wouldn't know what'd hit you (but as I know, Hitler was the one who invented worker's holidays). Think how the Americans celebrated and whooped over Osama Bin Laden's death, because he was Bin Laden - try reminding anyone that Bin Laden was human like us and you'd get shot down, as if by recognising that even someone like him is human and should be shown compassion is to support the evil that he did. In other words, you're evil for not celebrating his death. But if we were truly good, we'd show compassion even to him, not celebrate his death. It's completely twisted.

    We separate ourselves from the bad thinking "I'd never do that!" and we judge like we're righteous. In the end I think it comes from a combination of fear and pride. Fear of what we might be capable of and pride from that certainty that we'd never stoop so low.

    I think, if there's ever a purpose to suffering, it is to soften people's hearts. While not everyone who comes out of suffering becomes more compassionate, suffering is something does often soften people. Somehow once you've been broken, you're less quick to go break other people. People who've known pain are often wiser, more merciful, they come with a gentler step and a gentler word. Usually, anyway. I think it's perhaps the only fruit worth going through suffering for, and to come out of any kind of suffering whether great or small without this sort of fruit - without this understanding and compassion - is to have suffered for nothing, or at least very little at all.

    By having been broken, you become more useful - you become a gift - to other people. This is the sorts of paradox I believe God delights in. The reversal of mankind's wisdom - we say to be great, you must be the number 1. Jesus says, those who were last will become the first. Those who have already had their praises from man in this life will get no praise from heaven, because they have received their rewards already. But those who are meek will be lifted up, God will shame the proud and lift up the meek. And bring beauty out of ashes. We who have not suffered don't get the sorts of insights that those who have suffered do get, and those who have suffered are more beautiful to us than those who have not. It's a paradox, and a beautiful one that I believe God designed.
     
    Last edited: Nov 26, 2014
  18. Lemex
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    Lemex That's Lord Lemex to you. Contributor

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    I'm so depressed. I know now exactly where this thread will go. Snarky, pseudo-intellectual atheist comments in 3 ... 2 ... 1 ...
     
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  19. Link the Writer
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    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

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    I'll cheer you up! :D

    Always look on the briiiight side of life! De do, de do, de do do do...
     
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  20. Lemex
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    Lemex That's Lord Lemex to you. Contributor

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    Ha! :D Thanks pal.

    That's another flaw in humanity, we simply must have everyone agreeing. I have no problems with religious people, if it's the time and place I'll happily talk about it. I'm also happy to leave it alone. I guess I just feel sorry for people who have their core beliefs questioned without inviting it.

    Some times it's not right to question these things.
     
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  21. BayView
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    You seem to be working in black and white extremes - anyone who can't see humanity in Hitler or bin Laden isn't 'truly good'.

    I'd say that the vast majority of people are neither truly good nor truly bad. We're all just muddling along. Although someone like Hitler is clearly muddling along far, far closer to the 'truly bad' end of the scale than the vast majority of human beings.

    I don't see this happening, at least in my circles. I mean, I think I and everyone I know can confidently proclaim themselves as more righteous than Hitler, if that's all you meant. But if you mean judging others in everyday life and being sure of our own infallibility? I really don't see too much of that. Most people I encounter seem to realize they aren't perfect.

    I don't think I agree with this, either. I mean, I certainly think people CAN gain wisdom through suffering, but I'd say it's just as likely for them to become hardened and insensitive. It's pretty rare for soldiers to stop fighting once they lose their first comrade - instead, they often react with anger and further aggression, not wisdom. Abused children often grow up to be abusers themselves, because that's how they've learned to behave. In my experience, ugliness begets ugliness more often than it promotes beauty.
     
  22. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    I agree that there are times when it's not right to question someone else's religious beliefs.

    But I'd disagree with the idea that someone posting their beliefs in a public forum as a contribution to a secular debate isn't 'inviting it'.
     
  23. Link the Writer
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    Hitler's sort of a bad comparison because I'm pretty sure most of us do not want to start a genocidal world war like he did. I guess that's why people get offended if someone says we all have the capability to be like him. Guess what, not all of us do because we know what he did was absolutely abhorrent and evil.

    A better example would be the bullied victim becoming the bully, or the abused becoming the abuser. Not all of us have the capability to be like Hitler, but we do have the capability to be so overwhelmed by our own anger and hatred over someone or something that we lose our capacity for compassion.

    To sum up: We're not perfect, but not all of us are the next Hitler.
     
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  24. Mckk
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    Re suffering, what you say is true too - all I mean is the beauty don't often come without suffering. I don't mean that suffering always inevitably leads to beauty. But there's a certain depth of beauty that cannot come without suffering.

    There are many great people who do great things, and it's all because they've had to go through it themselves. Take, for example, something I saw online recently. A deaf man has returned to his village in Uganda to teach sign language, because nobody knows sign language and the deaf are left trapped inside themselves with no way of communicating. Being deaf is not something you'd wish on anyone - those who are deaf suffer in various ways. Now, if this sign language teacher hadn't been deaf, and if he hadn't been through a period in life when he also didn't know sign language and was trapped inside himself, maybe he never would have come back to now pass on the knowledge of sign language to people. There are also some things you can only help if you've been through it yourself - try though I might, I can't understand what it's like to be deaf, and so try though I might, my help and understanding will always be limited.

    There're things you can only do once you've been there. I find people who have suffered have then been equipped to help those who have suffered the same. Imagine your example with the war veteran - think he'd listen to one of us talk about not being bitter and moving forward or whatever? Think he'd listen to us about not killing out of rage but remembering why he became a soldier to begin with? But bring a fellow war veteran who've walked in his shoes and seen what he has seen and let that man speak - I guarantee you it will be far more effective. But to be helpful in this way, the veteran first had to go to war, had to see people die, had to kill and probably go through PTSD - he's had to break and suffer before he could become someone who's helpful to others in need.

    And I think, when that happens, that makes all your suffering worth it. You've had to die and die again and break and break and break and finally, you rise and you're still broken and instead, you give life to someone else. You touch someone else you could never have reached had you not been broken. It's the only fruit worth having, the wisdom and compassion that can come with suffering and thus transform you into someone with the gift to heal and renew another person.

    It is unfortunate that not all who suffer comes out with this reward - I guess it depends on how they cope in their suffering. But there's something in that bitter well that's worth it, if you somehow find it. I find people who have suffered to be extremely valuable - they have seen, heard and felt things, lived things I've not had to go through, and they see things differently now. If only I'd listen, I'll find something worthwhile, some gem I couldn't otherwise glean from anything or anyone else. I believe those who have suffered have a lot to offer the rest of the world, if someone would just come and give them the strength to stand and see that.

    As for most people knowing that they're not perfect - you're right. It's just that most people also seem to always think they're somehow, some way, better than others. It's not a claim to perfection - it's a claim to being better. That's why we become judgemental, and why we are so certain of ourselves. "Sure, I'm not perfect, but at least I wouldn't do that", that sorta thinking.
     
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  25. Lemex
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    Lemex That's Lord Lemex to you. Contributor

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    It depends on the thing being discussed. If someone was asking a question about Christian fiction I don't think it would be right to write a post criticising Christianity. Because all that's doing is showing you to be an asshat, and it's counterproductive to the discussion.

    The only time it's really being called for is on a subject that specifically relates to it - believe me, I've been around here long enough to know people on both sides are happy to crash any part with their pesudo-intellectual dribble about teapots and spaghetti.
     
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