Brian’s Reflection: Thursday, May 6, 2010
I have found little that is "good" about human beings on the whole.
In my experience most of them are trash, no matter whether they
publicly subscribe to this or that ethical doctrine or to none at all.
That is something that you cannot say aloud, or perhaps even think.
It is impossible to overlook the extent to which
civilization is built upon a renunciation of instinct.
Sigmund Freud, psychoanalyst, born on this date, 1856
When you are committed to the Truth, to radical honesty, there is nothing that you “cannot say aloud, or perhaps even think”. Period. This is, to my mind, one of the great liberating principles of human existence and of “religion”. If “religion” and philosophy are not based on Truth, on Reality, they are contrary to the essential human Quest.
Freud must have been backward-channeling someone from Now! Oh, I believe that human beings are capable of great “good”. This is my choice; I simply can’t live based on the concept of complete human depravity. Read History (so-called); you can see that much “good” has been done by societies, by individuals, by “religions”. (Of course, we might all disagree on what is “good”.)
You could say that Jesus and Freud were in agreement about Humanity. Trash. I recall that Jesus is reported to have said once, “Why do you call me good? Only God is Good”. That could indicate that He sensed the trashiness dimension of human nature. But. Jesus was an Optimist. If He wasn’t, He wasted His time, and His breath, and His self-giving. I don’t think He did. I believe that He stood up for, believed in, the Grand Possibility of human beings. Yes, we can be disgustingly vicious; but we can also be stunningly generous and compassionate and amazing! The latter has the capacity, in very small does, to overcome the former.
We are animals. We have lots of “animal instinct”. I know without question that if I came across thugs assaulting Gayfolk in the vicious ways that our society still condones, and I had a pistol in my hand, I might shoot them, suppressing my trained tendency to non-violence. (If they were assaulting ME, I might not.) But I do accept that civilized living must rest on an ability to suppress, in principle, our instinct to violence. I think it goes without question that Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr and others of their ilk have advanced the cause of “civilization”.
It may be non-PC. But we human beings can be Trash. All of us. We are seeing this today in our World.
Unless we can embrace this truth, we won’t evolve.