In our universities, newspapers, and television shows, it is a given that external forces are the cause of crime. If not for poverty, murder and rape would be much lower. If not for racism, America's inner cities would be far wealthier. So on and so on. At the core of this belief is that people are basically good, and it is society that makes them bad. This notion is simply not true. As Dennis Prager explains in this video, human nature is not basically good. It is not, though, basically bad. People are born more or less neutral. And it is incumbent upon parents, teachers, and yes, society, to turn children into good adults. It doesn't happen on its own.
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There are two important -- indeed, fundamental -- questions you have to answer in life:
The first is: Is there is a God -- specifically a moral and judging Creator. The second is: Are people basically good?
Your answer to the second question will shape just about all of your moral, social, and political views -- even more than whether you believe in God. That’s why a believer and an atheist who have the same views about human nature almost always have the same social and political views.
Let me give you some examples:
You’ve probably heard the phrase “Poverty causes crime.” If you believe that people are basically good, you are likely to believe that poverty or bigotry or some other outside force causes people to commit violent crime. That’s the only way you can make sense of the fact that some people commit crimes despite their basically good nature -- something drove them to it. But if you don’t believe people are basically good, you are far more likely to blame the criminals themselves, not outside forces, for their actions.
One more example: in a society where it is believed that people are basically good, parents and society don’t devote great efforts toward making good people. After all, if we are born good, why do you have to teach goodness? On the other hand, those who don’t believe we are born all that good understand that parents and society have to undertake major efforts to make children into good adults.
Ok, then, are people basically good? As I will show, given humanity’s history, the answer should be obvious. Of course, human nature isn’t basically good.
Now, this doesn’t mean that people are basically bad. We are born with real potential to do good. But we are not basically good.
Take babies. Babies are lovable and innocent, but they are not good: They are entirely self-centered -- as they have to be in order to survive. “I want mommy; I want milk; I want to be held; I want to be comforted, and if you do not do all these things immediately, I will ruin your life!” That’s not goodness; that’s narcissism.
We are born narcissists, preoccupied with “number one:” ourselves. And if you’ve ever worked with kids, you know how cruel, how bullying, they can be.
And don’t parents have to tell their child tens of thousands times “Say thank you”? Now, why is that? If we are naturally good, wouldn’t feeling and expressing gratitude come naturally?
For the complete script, visit https://www.prageru.com/videos/are-people-born-good
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