Are People Good?

I recently had to read several novels for school - Lord of the Flies, Night, and Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God.  These works of literature made me wonder about the true nature of human beings and inspired me to further analyze what brings about evil and bad behavior in humans. 

Human nature consists of the general psychological characteristics, feelings, and behavioral traits of humankind that all humans share. By nature, people posses bad or sinful thoughts and characteristics and it is impossible to ever be completely good. Human nature causes people to be naturally bad and everyone eventually succumbs to their impurities and sinfulness.

One test of human nature is explained in Lord of The Flies. In this novel, a group of young boys between the ages of 5-12 were stranded on an island without adult supervision or care. They were forced to create their own society, find food, and take care of one another until rescued. However this civilized group did not last long and in a short time the boys succumbed to their true evil nature which led them to killing and violence. Savagery overcame the boys and they all turned on one another until their goal was no longer to be rescued, it was to kill and become the strongest. This novel portrayed how humans are naturally bad because even with boys at such a young age who have been taught morals, in the end their first instinct was to kill.

The biography, Night, by Elie Wiesel, also supports the idea that all people are bad. The Holocaust was a terrible genocide of 6 million Jews and it was clearly in the Nazi’s human nature to hate and want to kill these innocent people. They had no sympathy towards the Jews because their hatred overpowered any sense of empathy. Although the Jews were the victims, eventually even they gave into their sinful nature because they became selfish and fought others for their own survival. They initially wanted to stick together to stay strong, but it wasn’t long before the hardships became so unbearable that they turned on one other. They fought for food, killed each other, and sacrificed others in order to live another day. The Nazis showed that people have a natural inclination of hate and violence towards others, and the Jews showed how easy it was to surrender to violence and how humans would do just about anything to keep themselves alive.

In Jonathan Edwards’ “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God” sermon, the nature of humans is explained in great depth. Everyone is considered a sinner and we are all born with an inclination to do bad things. From the moment of birth, all humans possess “original sin” which is the tendency to sin that is innate in all human beings. No matter how hard you try, you cannot escape this sin because it is in your nature and God will choose your path anyway. Edwards believes that everyone is a sinner and we will all eventually go to Hell anyway, but we are still alive now because God wills us to live and he is in control of our lives.

Therefore, humans have a natural inclination to do nefarious, immoral things. People cannot escape their sinful thoughts, feelings, and actions because as a human, it will always be in your nature to do wrong. Humans are sinners from birth and different situations can affect their moral values and contribute to their sins. It is clear from these three examples that it is an uncontrollable, innate quality that humans possess and no one can escape it. In Lord of the Flies, the children turned savage at such a young age, and in Night, people of all ages succumbed to their evil nature. As you can see, sin is the true nature of people however it is masked by the effort and goal to be good.