Human Nature

I have asked myself and others, many times, what it is that prevents us from building a cozier, friendlier more flourishing and promising world. We are incredibly equipped to do that: we have our particular tools for reasoning; our capacity to communicate among ourselves with our bodies and our human language; and we possess biological equipment that allows us to learn and to develop unimaginable inventions and innovations. If you think about it, you could consider yourself a miraculous being.

And yet, we do not always seem to be using this potential to actively build a better world. Although there are statistics that show a progressive improvement of a civilized way of life since our pre-history, the unstopping political, racial, social, and economic conflicts and the massive domestic and personal violence at present makes me wonder: What is the matter?

I have received an answer to this question many times. I have been told that it is absolutely necessary to take into consideration the issue of human nature. Seemingly, human beings not only have the biological disposition for learning, but apparently we also have instinctive features like greed, violence, a lust for power, envy and resentment which are an essential part of our nature. My listening is that we are the way we are and we cannot change that. It’s a fact of life. Then, another question bursts forth: Should we accept these traits as THE essential aspects of human nature, traits that are fixed and immutable, unable to change?

My answer is “no”. Our potential of creativity, learning, sociability, collaboration, vision, knowledge and human language are also aspects of human nature. In fact, most of these are distinctly human traits, as opposed to instincts, which we share with the other animals. If we have this huge and creative potential it is our responsibility to use it fully in order to improve our world and our species. For this statement, I have been criticized as being naïve and a wishful thinker.

If you claim for acceptance of the status quo of our “unchanging nature”, accepting only the comfort of that which is known, you run the risk of stagnation. If you are not willing to train your attention and discipline in order to wholly use your human potential, then you are not living within  the paradigm of human nature, so rich in possibilities, but in the paradigm of mammal nature, to which we also belong. All mammals have bodies, instincts, brains, sensations, and emotions, human beings included. And the Universe has provided us, humans, with the amazing tool of human language which allows us to learn, to create, and to learn from what we learn, constantly moving the boundary of what is possible.

Our human nature enables changes, growth, and development. Luckily, I am not alone in this way of understanding human nature, differentiating you and me from the rest of the animals. I invite you to open up to this way of looking at ourselves, and to invite many others to do so. One day we will live in a better environment and human nature will naturally be considered what it is: that which makes us human.

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