When I was younger, the world seemed so much more vibrant and alive, and it was easy to find the good in people and circumstances. Why else would Disney have been so popular? There were always new experiences, things and places to see that were inspiring and created an experience of joy; essentially, it was much easier to be creative because as a child, you aren’t as idealistically limited to social norms as you will be as an adult.
And then came the harsh realities of adulthood. They begin creeping up after puberty, when the first thing you have to take responsibility for is your body and the weird, hideous things that it suddenly does. Want to go swimming? Not until you put this large tube of cotton in your pants! Can’t stand up yet because you have this unsightly erection lurking below your desk? Well how unfortunate. Hormones come in and tell you that all of a sudden, you care what you look like and how you speak because you don’t want to spend the rest of your life alone, living with either your parents in their basement or with your eight cats.
And how ever will you impress that special someone without a job? Come to think of it, you aren’t going to be able to do much of anything without a job, because all of a sudden, your parents want you to take responsibility for your finances and learn the value of a dollar by earning it yourself: no more allowances. The things that you want are becoming more expensive too, such as that car that you absolutely need in order to get away from the controlling, “you’re becoming an adult now” atmosphere that looms in the air at home, and to one of those parties where everyone else feels exactly the way you do, and you kind of fit in. How can parents possibly teach you responsibility anyway if they won’t even give you the chance to show them that you are?
And…what if you aren’t? There’s a lot of drugs and alcohol at some of these parties, a lot of racy encounters that you may or may not have protection for. If you make the wrong decision, you could become a hopeless addict, losing your money as you buy drugs, cigarettes, or alcohol to sustain your habit, losing your parents’ respect and all hope of freedom, and earning yourself the title of ‘loser’ that either keeps every member of the opposite sex away, or attracts towards you only the ones that can get something from you, or who are just as hopeless as you are. Worse than any of those things…you could become a mother or a father! Are you seriously ready for that?
When you succeed in the trials of teenage-dom and finally get to move out, you find out that all the responsibility and freedom that you wanted is a lot harder than you thought and not at ALL what you wanted! Now you have to pay your own bills. If you want a roof over your head, you earn it. If you want to have a smartphone, you better pay for it. The hardest part is being able to do all of this and call yourself a “functional, independent adult”–while not losing yourself in the process.
All of a sudden, life seems to have lost some of its luster and sheen.
And just like that, the rose-tinted sunglasses of your childhood are ripped off, and replaced with the blinding, illuminating light of what life is really about, and who it is really comprised of. Let’s be honest…there are a lot of assholes in the world. You first encountered them when you were a naive and gullible teenager, and one tried to take advantage of you: maybe your first boyfriend told you he loved you so that he could have sex with you, and then dump you a week later. Maybe you gave a guy a ride to the bus stop, only to find out your iPod has mysteriously disappeared. As you get older and wiser, you see more and more people like this and are destined to make sure no one takes advantage of you, but at the price of losing your trust and faith in mankind.
Humans have a conflicting nature. We’ve kept ourselves alive over the past few hundred thousand years with the primitive part of our brain that controls our survival instincts. “Survival of the fittest” is the name of the game, and that means sometimes taking advantage of a less fit individual in order to maintain your own survival. In the animal kingdom as well as in the times of ancient man, compassion for a weaker individual can spell out the end of the road for you. However, in modern times, humans are taught that compassion is GOOD, and that it is needed to coexist with one another. We have established morality, kindness, and a “do unto others as you would want done unto you” attitude. When we see acts of compassion towards creatures that are truly weaker than us, like a firefighter saving a kitten from a tree, or this adorable story about the cobra who saved 2 puppies in a well from drowning, it melts our hearts.
I think that we as a species WANT to be altruistic and kind, and I do believe that those who can act the way that their moral compass tells them to act are in fact happier for it (see this link, PBS apparently agrees), especially right after the generous moment has happened. But in this world, where entitlement has become a social norm that leads people to believe that the quality of their lives is suffering, even in first world countries like America, and when things are as unpredictable as they currently are (unstable relations between countries, overuse and overinflation of resources, a rapidly increasing population and limited space to put them, to name a few)…are people relying more on their survival instincts than their moral compasses?
I love humanity because we are capable of so much, and each individual has his/her own perceptions of the world, goals, qualities, and flaws. I love seeing people work together towards a common goal, or seeing them share in their success with someone less fortunate out of choice. I love to see the art that people make and hear their ideas. I love to see parents who are invested in the quality time that they spend with their children. My favorite thing is when people experience empathy with each other, and the feeling that happens when you understand someone else’s perspective, and they understand yours. I believe that this is one of the things that makes us…well, human! In a good way.
I hate humanity because we are inherently and historically selfish by nature. Watching people take advantage of others to get ahead and be completely okay with it drives me NUTS. People have the mindset that everyone is out to get them (as I said before, most likely people think this way because they have become wary of being taken advantage of), and the worst part is that many of them have a very legitimate reason to think this way! The media propels this by pointing out to us all of the bad things that people do: the crimes, murders, lies, etc. In America, we don’t even trust our own government to tell us the truth! I believe that this encourages more negative behavior as people take after what they see or become like me, losing hope in the people around them. As a whole, it seems as though the more we have to give as individuals, the less we give and the more we fear. This is why we suck.
So there you have it, my love/hate relationship with humanity. I can see both sides of this in everyone, even and especially in myself. I guess the good news is that I haven’t completely given up hope, right?