On Human Nature (Draft)
If we would praise our species’ virtues, then
we can’t be silent on its vices. Those
who’re blind to one or other might portray
the human race as one of angels or
of devils—yet the truth is in between.
We’ve made our gods in human likeness and
our demons too are modeled on ourselves.
Perhaps these are in all that lives, and yet
we see them clearest in our closest tribe—
the one that’s human, touched by grace and sin.
We even die for others. So do ants.
But humans can transcend the bounds of kin
and even species—much as dogs might do.
We’re not unique—and yet this quality
of sacrifice of self’s a sainted thing.
And yet we murder, pillage, torture, rape—
as other species do, except we’ve moved
to make these things our hallmarks. We will kill
for no good reason, using devilish means.
We’ve laid to waste a planet, with a shrug.
So—gods or devils? Sainted angels or
a demon's spawn of scoundrels? We are both.
Though surely what’s in us must be, in part,
in other species too, our qualities
of evil, unrestrained, are perilous.
It’s said that humans reason. Yet our hearts
are swayed too easily by passions and
our heads are addled by assumptions false.
We rarely question those we follow, as
we move in mobs and ape our conquerors.
And yet our human nature still remains
the thing we have to work with. That is all.
No theory that exalts a class or race
above another or assigns it blame
will hold if we inspect its basic claims.
And those who say that we should educate,
uplift the masses—they forget that they
are often as misled or more than those
they seek to “raise”. Let other beings be.
Look to yourself, if you would dare to see.
2015 August 19th, Wed., 10:55 pm
Bensonhurst, Brooklyn, New York