“All people are inherently selfish..”- Chris
”The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation“ -Thoreau
I find that me and my friend Chris differ on our opinions about human nature. He believes that human beings are inherently selfish, that no act they do is ever truly unselfish. I on the other hand challenge this opinion often. I don’t know if I challenge his opinion because of religious beliefs or the fact that I don’t find it to be that simple. I find human beings to be more complicated than that. Still I found that I was left with the question, that if human beings are not inherently selfish than what are they? This I found was answered during the course of this year.
As I was involved in a production of a play called Paragon Springs the only thing that I could find as a true definition of my character and the show was the quote by Thoreau that said, “The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation”. I found that it wasn’t selfish nature that lead the character’s to commit selfish acts, but it was desperation that drove them to think only of themselves. This summer I have been enthralled with the show Breaking Bad, were in the show the main character a chemistry teacher slowly develops into an anti-hero after his morals are challenged by the news that he has lung cancer and that he could possibly die leaving his pregnant wife and his son who has cerebral palsy to fend for themselves. In this series he takes to creating meth and sneaking behind his family’s back to help support them, and everyday he is faced with another moral dilemma. This show and the production that I was involved in this year pointed me towards my conclusion. People are not inherently selfish, but they are inherently desperate. Desperation drives many men. It is always there no matter how much you have or how comfortably you live. Desperation comes in many forms and is the product of sociological and biological pressures. Biologically we find ourselves desperate for food, comfort,a mate, and etc. Sociologically we find ourselves desperate for social acceptance, status,intimacy, and etc. We use society to fulfill our biological needs and we navigate through society to obtain our sociological needs, but once one of these many needs or wants are not attained we find ourselves in a state of desperation. In this state is when we act irrationality and we circumvent our moral barriers.
Everyone has there own quiet desperation. Some people are desperate for the necessities of life and must do things that we would find to be immoral because they have no choice or they tell themselves they have no choice. Others have there needs met biologically, but psychologically or sociologically there are desperate for something new, something exciting, maybe even something as simple as attention, and they will in some way act to achieve what they are desperate for. Children are selfish. This does not prove that people at the root are inherently selfish, but that children (or at least children in house holds that can provide for them) have not yet been educated that they have an abundance of food and comforts and are acting out of primal instincts to attain food and comforts for themselves to survive. They are then acting out of desperation caused by ignorance of the knowledge of what they have. If you were to ascertain that a child not sharing food with another child is inherently selfish than you would find every living thing to be inherently selfish. It is through education and discipline that we teach the child that they have access to their necessities and that it is not going to harm them to share their things with others. This lesson is the lesson we teach our children and we say we are teaching them to be unselfish, but truthfully we are teaching them to gauge what they have and to share only what they have an abundance of. This same child grows up and does the same thing in life. If he is rich he finds it easy to give enough money away to those who need it, but still remain comfortable. If he is poor he then gives his time away to others as acts of kindness instead of money. People will easily give what they have an abundance of as long as it does not send them into a state of desperation. Fear of desperation is the root of selfishness. People can be selfish they can also be evil, but the average person at their root are more complicated then that. We as human beings are just uncomfortable with being uncomfortable and it is true selflessness when someone acts out of their comfort zone.