It’s Human Nature?


Civil disobedience is not our problem. Our problem is civil obedience. Our problem is that people all over the world have obeyed the dictates of leaders…and millions have been killed because of this obedience…Our problem is that people are obedient all over the world in the face of poverty and starvation and stupidity, and war, and cruelty. Our problem is that people are obedient while the jails are full of petty thieves… (and) the grand thieves are running the country. That’s our problem.

American Historian Howard Zinn (1922-2010)

Since 2020, I often hear from people that they are disappointed in their fellow citizens. The rampant obedience, the blind faith in the state, the groupthink, the disproportionate levels of naivité. While I consider this criticism warranted –like the American historian Howard Zinn (1922-2010) I warn against civil obedience– there is a twisted ‘catch’ to consider during our current predicament:

The unifying force behind ‘obey’ and ‘disobey’ is disappointment in humanity. In other words, there exists a universal disappointment in people for being disappointed in other people. Just like there exists a universal wariness of others for being wary of others.

To try to break the vicious circle is to try to stop being disappointed and wary.

Our view of human nature is the foundation of our thought processes and opinions. Whether you believe in heaven, paradise, Lemuria and Atlantis, the ‘naturally moral person’ as defined by Jean-Jacques Rousseau, or in the exact opposite, a world of human savages fighting a war of all against all, like the theory of Thomas Hobbes, it is essential to be conscious of your own individual definition of human nature. It is risky to rule out the possibility that forces around us have been influencing our views of human nature for the worse.

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