Ruminating About Human Nature

by Arleen Lorrance

How is it that human beings can be so cruel to one another? I have long wondered about the range of negative human behavior from meanness to murder. I used to try to disassociate myself from the human race because of human horrors. I came to realize that all humans, including me, are capable of all things. This awareness did not make me feel any better.

What is it in our nature that propels us to unkindness, to destructiveness, to viciousness? What is it? I know we are akin to nature, which simply lashes out and destroys entire landscapes with no remorse. Perhaps our violence is simply part of what it is to be a human being and no matter how we grow and change we will never eliminate this feature from our makeup.

Anne Frank reported that in spite of what she and her family suffered during World War II and the holocaust, she still believed that people were basically good at heart. I often experience that as well, but it is not a constant.

In looking about at strangers in crowded places I have observed that we are often afraid to be kind to one another. This very fact promotes meanness-to-murderous behavior. We are afraid that if we express kindness it will be misunderstood, get us in trouble, or evoke responses we are ill equipped to handle. We withhold from one. We opt for privacy and isolation instead of reaching to another. This withdrawal promotes potential hostile expression, or at least minor forms of paranoia.

I sat beside an aged woman who dropped something she had great difficulty retrieving. She couldnít bend and she seemed in great pain. I was sitting right next to her as she began to struggle and I immediately offered my help. She did receive my help and thanked me for it but it was very clear that she would never have asked for it.

We donít ask. We donít provide others with the opportunities to give to us. We hold back. That held back energy, cumulative in the human race, is what I sense explodes in acts of mistreatment and sometimes violence.

I suspect we could radically change human nature if we collectively encouraged everyone to feel and to express feeling. No matter what the feeling is, once it is expressed we can move through it to new choices. As energy is expended and expressed, the pathways open and we might all be encouraged toward compassion, enthusiasm, gratitude, and creativity.†

Living in thoughts, holding back energy, and shutting down leads to explosions of vital life force that take hurtful shapes. Blocked Chi results in physical disease. Blocked energy produces congestion. Blocked feelings are internalized. Eventually all this has to move. We either move it consciously and lovingly, or we strike out because we must expend the energy, and in so doing, hurt those in our way.

We can no longer shrink from one another. The more we pull back the sooner we will crash into our own walls of separation.

To be afraid, suspicious of, or resistant to other human beings is to create an opposing force. We need to choose between going to private war with each other or merging into one larger being.

To promote peace, fellowship, and community, we would do well to reach to others, to give to others, to reveal our joys and suffering, to ask for help, to receive when love is given. In those ways we can be the change we want to see happen in the world.


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