Is not society an extension of the self?
The basic nature of all humanity is that of genuine goodness. There is no reason to doubt such, for if each person reflects upon their most basic inclinations, they will find that deep in their intellect, they WANT to do the right thing. In fact, every person has a common sense of natural “oughtness” which is derived from our common sense of natural “goodness”. Our natural inclination to do “the right thing” is based upon our intuitive knowledge of the very concept. Hence, there are circumstances which are so spontaneous and so instant that before we have time to rationalize our actions, we feel inclined to do what we naturally know is right under the circumstances. This natural knowledge of “the right thing” is in fact our intuition, by which we can know our own basic nature.
For example, let us presume that we see another person lieing on the side of the road, clearly injured and obviously incapacitated. Would not our natural inclination in such a circumstance be to stop and render aid? That instantaneous feeling is our basic nature responding to our intuitive knowledge to do the right thing.
Now, this is not to say that our actions are always or even ever in accord with our basic nature. In this very scenario, the instantaneous inclination to render aid, would immediate lead to rationalization of the circumstance which would lead to a consequent course of action. One person might speculate that based upon the remoteness of the area that it might be too dangerous to risk personal injury, so she might pass on by (And, she might use her cell phone to call for help, which would be practical. Yet, her original SPONTANEOUS thought would have been to stop and render aid). Yet another more cynical type might speculate that the injured person likely brought these unfortunate circumstances on himself, and thus he might choose to just pass on by and not “get involved”. Then again, another person might note that the injured person’s skin color does not suit his taste, so he might pass on by due to a personal prejudice.
These are but a few reasons that might motivate a person to “just pass on by” and perhaps to even “not get involved”, yet I maintain that EVERYONE would have a momentary, instantaneous urge to “do the right thing”. That spontaneous urge to do the right thing is beyond our control, yet the course of action that we pursue is very much within our control.
So I return to my original statement that society is but an extension of the self. Should we not as a society function in accord with our basic nature? And is not our basic nature that of genuine goodness?
Idealistic I may be, but I believe that my case is sound. We all WANT to do the right thing. We merely get caught up in our own lives and circumstances, and thus we so oftentimes act contrary to our basic nature.
When a person lives contrary to his/her basic nature of genuine goodness, that is most unfortunate. When a society functions contrary to the basic nature of genuine goodness, the ramifications are catastrophic and heart wrenching.
I maintain that the most natural experience and the most noble endeavor is that of self cultivation of the genuine goodness of our basic nature on a daily basis.
Society is but an extension of the self….