I believe that people are inherently good and because I believe that politicians are people, too, I also believe that politicians are inherently good. [There are even some politicians that have a very clear sense of humor.] You’ll find many religious debates about the topic as to whether people are good and you’ll also find many people in general debating this topic (here, here, here, and here). Some people think it’s clear that people are inherently good. You’ll even find academic articles written on the subject of humans inherent goodness (here and here). While I acknowledge the religious component to this debate, from everything I’ve seen of people, I think they are inherently good.
Yes, there are heinous acts committed everyday around the world, but I don’t think that people are doing these things in their “right mind.” That is, I think that there is some form of detachment. I think that people couldn’t do some of the things that they do without being, in some way, detached from what they are doing. While the human condition encompasses a wide variety of human behavior, I don’t think that humans, without being (unaware) to some extent, of what they are doing, that they could do what they do (when they harm other humans).
I am in the process of working on a series of posts where I make the claim that American Public Policy is way behind and while this implicates the politicians who, by the very nature of the system, are directly involved with the writing and publishing of American public policy, I do not think that politicians are deliberately (and maliciously, that’s key) making it this way. I think that because of the way that the system of the American government is set up and the system of the American media, it’s much easier for American politicians to get away with the kinds of things they get away with, but I don’t think there is harmful intent.
Some may call me idealistic, but I believe that (most) humans on the planet, given an opportunity to help a fellow human, would do so. When presented with an ethical quandary, I think that most humans will do what they can to help someone out. More importantly, I think that those who wouldn’t help out are still human, but are expressing what Carl Jung would call, “The Shadow.”
We can understand this a little easier by looking at some of the things that Eckhart Tolle has to say: “The thoughts that go through your mind, of course, are linked to the collective mind of the culture you live in – humanity as a whole. They are not your thoughts as such, but you pick them up from the collective… You believe in every thought that arises and you derive your sense of who you are from what your mind is telling you who you are.”
And then pair them with the lens of Byron Katie: “…when I believed my thoughts, I suffered, but that when I didnt believe them, I didnt suffer…”
Inherently people are good. While I understand that some people my disagree, this is a topic that I have a hard time honestly taking a step back and hearing both sides. I think that people always, always mean well. Like I said earlier, yes, there are some “bad” things that happen in the world, but I do not think that its intentionally harmful (and I really hope not, too). I think that psychology’s perspective on the shadow, along with viewpoints from spiritual teachers like Eckhart Tolle and Byron Katie help us to understand why some people may do “bad things,” and still, inherently, be good people.
Lastly, I wanted to offer a perspective from someone who I think has something important to say on this topic. Jeremy Rifkin wrote, what I think, is one of the more important books of this generation. It came out in 2010 and it has already been translated into more than 30 languages. He gave a brilliant speech to the RSA (50 minutes), which was then turned into a 10-minute animated YouTube video by RSA. The implications are profound and I have included the animated speech below for your viewing pleasure.