Wednesday, October 24, 2012

human nature

Good morning, class. Today's lesson will be a reality check on human nature, human nature being very real. No matter how hard we try to deny it, it's all about self-preservation. Those who deny this truth about our human nature, are only setting themselves up for disappointment in their fellow man. It usually raises its ugly head when we think no one is looking, or we think we won't be held accountable. When you're not around anyone who knows you, that's when the "real you" comes out. Why else would looking over your shoulder and glancing in your mirror to see if it's safe to change lanes automatically cause the other cars to speed up so you can't? Or that moron blocking the passing lane for 10 miles stares at you in the mirror, sees you behind them, knowing that you want by, and knowing that the left lane is for passing only, will not make any effort to let you pass. In fact, they will make an effort not too. Of course, the unintended consequence, or maybe it's actually intended in this case, is the traffic behind them becoming bottlenecked, all the cars riding bumper-to-bumper, with every driver being frustrated, and angry. They begin to drive erratically with much more aggression. The next thing you know, it's every man for themselves, cutting each other off to the extent someone could be killed. Sometimes, I think this is a power trip. You can almost hear them saying, "I'm doing 70". How difficult is it to fall back a little bit and moved to the right or speed up a little bit and moved to the right? OPEN UP THE DAMN ROAD, IT'LL BE OK, I PROMISE!!! but I digress... They won't let you by. It's a perfect example of human nature at it's finest. Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying it's nescessarily a bad thing. I'm saying, recognize it for what it is and own it. Ya'll all do it to each other all day on the roads. You don't want anyone in front of you. I don't treat other drivers like that because I feel sooo much better when I assist another driver by allowing them to pass, or get to their exit, and get a smile and a wave in return.
I drive all over Dallas-Fort Worth every day, all day long. As an elevator technician, I am sometimes in a hurry, and believe me, if you were the one trapped in the elevator, you would appreciate that. I use my blinkers for every lane change and turn. If someone uses a blinker, I do everything in my power to let them over. It keeps me in a better mood, until that butt head blocks the passing lane with that shit-eatin grin... take a breath...
The reality is, as much as we tell each other to be good to one another, generous, and to treat others as we would like to be treated, human nature dictates to us to look out for ourselves. Although this can be overridden, it is nonetheless a strong part of human nature that is necessary in order to survive.  I believe, unless you are a true Mother Teresa, you will only help others as long as it doesn't put you out to the extent it is uncomfortable. But the funny thing is, we expect everyone else to go beyond that and give till it hurts... and then give some more. The only time we will make a true sacrifice, is when we are trying to impress someone that will show us favor, or we think there is a pay-off. This is why true charitable giving is done in secret.
Anytime you're doing anything that goes against human nature, it requires practice and conscious thinking. Your assignment today is, fight the urge to speed up when a vehicle in the lane next to you puts on a blinker, or you see them checking their mirrors about to come over. Get the hell outta the passing lane. And for extra credit... oh wait, you don't get extra credit for this, because it only counts if nobody knows, but start a coin jar. Try to fill the coin jar with as much silver as possible and even some dollar bills wouldn't hurt. Just before Christmas, hide the coin jar in your purse or bag, and go to your local Walmart. Put a few things in your cart and start strolling through the store. When you see that mother or father with the look on their face of pain, chances are, that they are struggling to do for their kids this Christmas. When they're not looking, place the jar in their cart. Do not get caught, and do not tell anybody you're doing this. This is a learned behavior, not to be confused with human nature. When you feel so good about something, or proud of yourself, you can't help but want to share it with someone, and hear, "how nice you are," or "what a great thing you did." It's worth keeping it to yourself. Resist telling even your husband or wife, because as soon as you do, you'll feel some of that joy slip away.
Compassion is a gift from God and is intended to be shared. So how do we practice compassion without denying human nature? It's easier than you think. Recognize, when someone else is being selfish, like that idiot in the passing lane, they're simply allowing their human nature to rule them. It's not personal. Probably the sweetest person in your church or neighborhood, but they're not accountable behind the wheel. Resist being this way, and drive with compassion, knowing that your good deed ain't worth anymore than a smile and a wave.
Ok, I'm beat.
     class dismissed :)


  1. I believe in altruism. Many have argued the point with me stating that it simply doesn't exist. But it does. I have witnessed it, and I have done many things myself to go out of the way to lighten anothers burden for no other reason except that I knew I had done something for someone that made a difference in their day or their life that they absolutely did not expect. There is nothing that can replace the feeling that you feel when those sorts of opportunities present themselves. (On an off note, I would so love to drive ahead of you on the mixmaster and apply makeup and talk on the phone while I watched you in my rear view mirror :P~~)

  2. Altruism, what a cool word. The first thing that comes to mind is in order to believe altruism, you have to first recognize that human nature is based on self-preservation. Thus altruism, would be the overriding of pure human nature in a conscious effort in order to preserve others. In human beings, there again this is a taught behavior usually in religious cultures, but we see examples of this in the animal kingdom all around us. Ants will sacrifice themselves in water in order that the rest of the colony may pile on creating an ant raft in order to save the colony during a flood. This would be an example of biological altruism. I suppose when it comes down to genuine preservation, meaning life or death, human beings also practice altruism, such as when a soldier throws himself on a grenade in order that the rest would survive the blast. This would not necessarily be something taught in a religious setting. (And on the off note, I bet you text at red lights not paying attention to when the light changes because you know you don't have to. Even though it would aggravate me, I will honk letting you know when it's time to drive). Does this behavior fall under human nature?