One of the most easily misunderstood expressions: “human nature”.
If you didn’t live under a rock in the last 25 years, you know there’s a new (old) deity in town: Mother Nature.
Therefore it’s normal that, with this obsession for ecologism besieging our minds since school age, when we catch a phrase containing “nature”, our vision turns green.
But human nature is something else. It’s how we are made. What we really are, inside, as human beings.
It’s our psychology that is at stake. We must explore our inner self to avoid self-deception. Just to pick up a random example: it’s pointless to put forward a social experiment like the abolition of matrimony, if first of all we don’t strive to understand where lies the truth: is it really a sort of oppressing societal superstructure, like many claim, or instead marriage answers a fundamental need, deep inside our minds?
We need to make things clear (so let’s avoid confusion and stop using the word nature, we may say human essence instead), though often misunderstandings are voluntary…
I don’t know if I should laugh or cry: mainstream info websites teaching about sex education and contraception, where in the list of “natural fertility control methods” (obviously portrayed as primitive as they can, with old unreliable data about efficacy), we can find also coitus interruptus. Sure! How could I forget about it! It’s rough, primitive, so it makes the list: natural stuff.
It’s like saying: see, the Holy See approves of methods ridiculously antiquated and unreliable, because they are still at the medieval age.
Ok, you could disagree with the examples I used, but we can concur that it’s worth to discuss and delve deeper: our ingrained tendencies matter.
Again: is it true that everything changes and nowadays even ethics need to be revised?
This is a very popular excuse for those who want to rewrite the rules to suit their will.
Our genetic code is the same of our cave-dwelling ancestors. Our primary needs are still the same. We may need to formalize new applications of ethics to specific situations, but what was true then remains true today.
Some assert, for instance, that marriages could last an entire life only in the past, when people died young, even for a measly cold; but today life lasts longer, we can’t force a man and a woman to put up with each other for half a century or more. What is it, a jail?
This is a rationalization ex post facto for choices made for entirely different motivations. But just some simple reasoning is sufficient to unmask it. In many communities it’s exactly the generation reaching 80 en masse, the one where everyone stays put with the same spouse for their entire life: they had a different set of values! On the other hand their sons and grandsons (daughters and granddaughters) are divorcing at an alarming rate, while they are still young.
No, it’s not a matter of age. Marriages are not easily dissolved when people are old and become dependent of others, facing illnesses and death. No one wants to be alone at that point, and not many over 70 have the luxury to start a new life, searching around for new lovers and adventure.
We could continue the debunking, but I think it’s enough for now. Did I waste my time, crafting a rebuttal to such a silly misconception? I don’t think so: it’s a good example of the kind of junk ideas we are served each and every day, in the editorial newscasts, in journals, in conversation…
Idées reçues. Received ideas. They often come handy, so we don’t bother actually thinking about them.
We need to strive hard to be objective, trying to test widespread convictions, to see if the opposite is true.
It’s a sport I like, that’s why I devoted a section of this site to problems such as: is drug dependency inherently part of a society, so that we have to cope with it? What about issues like fundamental rights, abortion, euthanasia, unmarried couples rights… you get the picture.
Put your helmet on and adjust the straps tight, we are in for a rough ride.