I believe people are good. It may be a simplistic statement but with its underlying complexity, it is hard to truly believe. The human nature spectrum is a collection of attitudes and attributes, but it in the end it all converges to good. For all the skeptics and scoffers, I do agree that people do horrific acts unto each other but at the same time, the love, sympathy and unity that come from experiencing tragedy is undeniably human nature in its purist form. No ulterior motives, no pretentiousness, just plain goodness. Choosing a single word to define human nature may be byzantine, but I’ll settle on good. Not great all the time and definitely not bad all of the time, but good overall. I believe the good outweighs the bad.
I was asked for my opinion during a public meeting regarding a planning and zoning ordinance and I answered “people are good.” It was my first “people are good” proclamation. The commission was debating whether or not native vegetative buffers could be enforced or if requiring the buffers would be another ordinance that would be purposefully ignored. When I answered “I think people are good and want to do the right thing,” most people laughed politely. I proceeded, quite ineloquently, to explain that people don’t seek to break laws but actually want to do what will better their communities. Whether it is retaining native grasses to reduce fertilizer pollutants from trickling into our waterways or opening the door for someone carrying a package, I believe people are innately good and inherently want to do the right thing.
Focusing on what people are doing wrong rather than the good people do won’t nurture our human connections. People are compassionate, thoughtful and considerate. I found myself reflecting on the “people are good” comment later in the week, trying to pinpoint exactly why I believe this. I realized that it’s not only the thousands of people working to eliminate malnutrition, the millions donated for HIV/AIDS outreach, or providing aid to war torn countries. While all of these actions are exemplary I find it’s the daily instinctive human reaction that proves people are good. After a day of pausing to notice, I witnessed four cars that braked in traffic so I could bike across the busy streets on my ride to work, three braked cars on the way home, six opened doors, two offers to step ahead in line, four hello waves and eight hello head-nods, seven good mornings on a sunrise run, twenty two thank yous, thirteen pieces of picked up litter, one pat on the back, two helping to pick up dropped papers, 200 people biking to work ( I read this in the morning paper), three high fives and too many smiles to count. In the end it isn’t the numbers, the dollars, the gratification, but on a daily basis, people are good and are bettering mankind. Good people, good deeds and goodwill, that’s what I believe in.
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