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Passions in Poetry

The Human Condition

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Member Elite
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0 posted 01-19-2001 08:52 PM       View Profile for Marilyn   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Marilyn

Have you ever stopped to wonder why we (the human beast) create the means to our own distruction? I am talking in an emotional, spiritual and physical sense as well as in a societal sense.

As indiviuals, we put ourselves into situations that are distructive to our inner-self. We get into bad relationships that distroys our self-worth. We get into bad work situations which distroys our achievement ideals. etc.

As a society we build weapons that can distroy not only the so called enemies in moments but also ourselves.

Is this what is called the human condition? If so, what is it so great being human?
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1 posted 01-19-2001 09:59 PM       View Profile for Poet deVine   Email Poet deVine   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Poet deVine

Well, not to be flip, but it beats being a skunk!  
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2 posted 01-19-2001 11:50 PM       View Profile for Jamie   Email Jamie   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Jamie's Home Page   View IP for Jamie

Someone once asked a judge (in Dublin I think) what had most deeply impressed him, what would remain most in his mind after serving 50 years in the criminal courts..his answer was, "the goodness of human nature."

go figure


Tu ne cede malis, sed contra audentior ito. - Virgil.
"Yield thou not to adversity, but press on the more bravely".

Poet deVine
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3 posted 01-20-2001 12:22 AM       View Profile for Poet deVine   Email Poet deVine   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Poet deVine

I do believe in the innate goodness of mankind. I think the 'bad' things we do are given more attention. We've created a lot of wonderful things - things that changed our lives for the better - mankind will always SEEK and in the seeking will find some things more destructive. I think the best example is Alfred Nobel. He developed dynamite - and created the Noble Peace Prize to reward the efforts of mankind in peaceful endeavors.
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4 posted 01-20-2001 12:54 AM       View Profile for Ron   Email Ron   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Ron's Home Page   View IP for Ron

Serious question, serious answer.

The basic tenant of brainwashing is simple. Tell a person the same thing enough times and they'll start to believe it. The more suggestible the person, the more trust extended, the more powerful and lasting are the beliefs established.

And a person is never more suggestible than during the first few years of life.

Tell a child they are "bad" enough times, and they'll spend the rest of their lives believing it. Tell them they'll "never amount to anything," and they'll spend the rest of their lives proving it. I don't think human beings are naturally self-destructive. I think we, collectively, too often make them that way.

(Destroying the world is another issue, entirely, of course.   )

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5 posted 01-20-2001 05:07 AM       View Profile for fractal007   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for fractal007

I think we two are similar, Marilyn.  I too am rather cynical when it comes to the so-called "human condition".  I tend to adopt a fatalistic belief that there is no way we can change the behaviour of humans.  Our genes are just that way, from years of competition through evolution.

But I think I'm with what Richard Dawkins said on a recent television show on whether or not we can have a Godless ethics system.  He said that we, as humans, have the power to go beyond darwinism in our behaviour, instead of being like other species.  I tend to take that further and say that if there IS a condition which ultimately defines what a human is, it is that power.  We're the first species[that we know of at this point] that is both capable of surviving the competition of natural selection, through peaceful methods, AND capabable of establishing the individual destiny.  That, I think, is what Ron was trying to tell me when he suggested I study Abraham Maslow's psychological ideas.  

The only problem is that there are so many who are quick to abuse this power.  Well, let me rephrase that a little.  There are people[I don't know how many, it's probably surprisingly low in number.  The waves they make are HUGE, though]who do this.  These people can be seen in places like the world's major religions[Although I do believe in God, I am aloof when it comes to getting my information from the Church of Christianity.  I'd much rather get it from an unbiased source], the world's major political pursuasions[take socialism for example.  Russian communism was originally founded on the idea of all people being equal.[assuming that what Orwell's allegorical representation of the Bulshevic(sp) revolution said is accurate]  However, characters like Stalin came along, and perverted it into a power and control system.]

Many have chosen to group people under one ideal, whether it be a religion, a political pursuasion or a philosophy.  Whatever makes somebody rich.

So, it is my belief that much of the awful people we see around us are likely a modern packaging of that darwinism that defined the process through which life originated.  This doesn't make them "animals" or less human - Just needing to see the light of ethics.  I like what Spock had to say in one Star Trek episode[remember the one where that guy from the Andromeda galaxy comes to conquer the Milky Way?].  "You are following an order handed down over 200 years.  It is time for you to establish a destiny of your own.]  It is indeed time for humans to establish their own destinies.  People need to stop looking for THE ANSWER[to the proverbial question of life, the universe, and everything] all the time in simple places like religion, science, or philosophy.  Instead, they need to start learning from these disciplines, and using that knowledge in living life.  If people did this, I believe that no matter what religion/philosophical pursuasion/scientific discipline one was part of, we would be much closer to a utopian society.  It would be a society in which man respected his fellow man, woman respected her fellow woman, man respected woman, woman respected man, and so on.  THEN we could start going into the stars and exploring even more.  
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6 posted 01-20-2001 10:46 AM       View Profile for Poet deVine   Email Poet deVine   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Poet deVine

To answer to Ron's reply: I say EXACTLY!! My kids were never allowed to call anyone stupid nor to refer to themselves as dumb. My new daughter-in-law has the habit of saying "God, I'm so stupid!" when something doesn't go right - and I tell her time and again that she isn't. I imagine her parents used the term "why did you do that stupid thing" many's sad. Kids need to know that they can make mistakes and not be deemed failures or stupid.

I think we tend to either follow our parents in the type of relationship THEY had or we tend to overcompensate the other way. It's been proven that children of abusive relationships tend to find that in their own relationship later on in life.
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7 posted 01-20-2001 11:25 AM       View Profile for Michael   Email Michael   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Michael

Amen to what Ron said.

All I would add to the "What's so great" question is the fact the we, as Humans have the ability to recognize the wrongs in our lives and right them.  We, as humans, can embrace hope is we so choose, accepting defeat is only an option.

mark woolard
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8 posted 01-20-2001 02:39 PM       View Profile for mark woolard   Email mark woolard   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for mark woolard

personally, i don't think the human condition is itself negative.  i feel the negativity (sharing ron's thoughts) is merely a piece of the human condition.

one problem with the human condition could perhaps be the environment humans have been thrown into over the last century or so.  mankind has mastered the art of production, and technology keeps progressing; but what if we have surpassed our natural abilities to cope with the impact of these creations?  

evidence for this can be seen everywhere, from the destruction  of nature (on all levels), to the population of zombies sitting in front of their computers.  

the idea (and impact) of the human condition stems from our collected negative environments.  what may change our course is anyone's guess.
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9 posted 01-20-2001 07:45 PM       View Profile for Marilyn   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Marilyn

I am going to personalize this for a moment, so please bare with me.  

The last 6 weeks of my life have been extremely busy and I have been in a state of exhaustion. When I get in these states (it happens when I forget to take care of myself when things get hectic.)I tend to get into situations that are not good for my own peace of mind. I think (at the time) that I have found what I need to re-energize myself but in reality it is self-distructive. I have been wondering why it is that I do these things to myself?

In retrospect, I have transfered these thoughts to a larger scale. I know that I do this to myself and if you take a good look at the larger picture, we as a society do this to ourselves. Why do I have this compulsive need to hurt myself? Why do I put the blinders on when I need something so badly? Why can't I find what I need on a healthy level? Why is it that these questions can easily be transfered from a person level to a societal level?

Anyway...I thought I'd give you a better view of where this came from.  
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10 posted 01-20-2001 09:44 PM       View Profile for Moon Dust   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Moon Dust

I think I'll have to agree with Ron. A soceity thinks the same. Try to rebel that soceity and you find yourself an outcast and alone. And I guess thats the way I feel now.
Soseity has failed me and when I do something to protect my own rights, I get punished for it. So what i'm saying is people only appear to argee with the soceity, weather it be self destrutive or not. They only abide by it cos they don't want to become an outcast.    

Life has got to chnage,
Nothing stays the same,
Soon it will be time,
For me to move on.

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11 posted 01-21-2001 05:50 PM       View Profile for Swamp了aeryie   Email Swamp了aeryie   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Swamp了aeryie

there are very few perks to being human in this day in age!! that's for sure!! But with out getting into my religious beleifs,i personally beleive there is a future for the earth and humans when we won't be destroying things any longer.


Do i contradict myself?Very well i contradict myself.I contain multitudes.~walt whitman
Member Rara Avis
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12 posted 01-21-2001 06:44 PM       View Profile for Severn   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Severn

Socialisation - as Ron outlines - is my choice for culpability of the human condition.

Fully and utterly.

We can unlearn...but first we need the educators and the money and the time. Some who live in comfort - with a good amount of money and opportunity have access to unlearning. (I know I have unlearned and still have to unlearn many negative things about myself that are fallacies I grew up believing were true.)

Our brains feed on information obviously - and what they are fed they use. It's inevitable.

It goes further than that also. It is not just parents or teachers or other influential people who leave their mark on a person; but the environment in which they grow.

If a person is born into poverty, or into the lifeway of an oppressed people, or into a war-stricken land then it isn't going to be good for that person's inherent beliefs about life, or about the self.

Cycles perpetuate themselves unfortunately. When the question is asked 'why are we the way we are' those who ask it are often the ones who have opportunities, a good life etc. Often - not always. People like you and I - who can see beyond hurt and devastation and negative belief. Some people can't even reach the point of questioning - they are trying to simply survive - whether physically or mentally.

They use the tools of survival they have learned - unable to unlearn at that point - and hence more destruction.

Of course - this is all a generalisation and there are always exceptions to the rule. There are those with wonderful encouraging families who commit crime etc. Those born into hell who overcome and become inspirational...

I say in all the brain is an amazing thing - never to be taken lightly.

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13 posted 01-21-2001 07:25 PM       View Profile for Brad   Email Brad   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Brad

The last couple of days I've been trying to figure this thread out and I can't.

Let me get this straight:

First, the discussion was directed at the individual's and society's tendency to self-destruct.  It's a fascinating question with a lot of different tangents, I agree, but then the argument shifts to a human being's innate goodness and badness. Everybody seems to agree that a human being is innately good (or at least that they are not innately bad).

First question: how are good and bad defined here? It seems like a jump to equate self-destruction with badness. Bad people are those who are sadistic, socio-pathic, and/or self-interested (at the expense of others). How does self-destruction relate to that?  If we place self-destruction in a different context such as another species: lemmings, the wolf who bites his leg off when in a trap, the crocodile who cuts his head off after being lassoed -- can't we see this as a tendency, not to self-destruction, but toward an incorrect judgement of the situation -- or a price for another immediate priority (ie. getting free)?

Isn't self-destruction another way of looking at the conflict between short and long term priorities?

By saying this, I'm not trying to belittle the difficulties involved in making decisions like this -- it is hard, difficult, perhaps even impossible not to make mistakes in life (I've made plenty). Nor am I trying to dissolve the hidden, unconscious drives in making these decisions.

But they are, nevertheless, decisions.

Then, Ron seems to argue that human beings are influenced by other human beings particularly at the early stages of development.

I couldn't agree more although I would point out that the influence of others is just as influential at later stages as well; it's just that once an identity kicks in, there is a tendency to see influence as a choice rather than as manipulation. That is, if you are rebelling against your parents, you'll still be influenced by something else -- friends or whatever -- but now you'll say this is what you want.

Brainwashing doesn't go away; it just takes on less direct forms.

So, given the context of the question, what is everybody agreeing with?

Society influences you? Society is bad for you? Don't be negative to children? Children are brainwashed at an early age? It's the parents' fault? It's society's fault?

Whatever happened to individual responsibility?

Contrary to Ron's stated assertion, I found his example rather flippant. How does knowing that you've been "brainwashed" help you to get off heroin?  Doesn't it just as easily relieve you of the responsibility to do the work to get off heroin?

It's not my fault.

Again, I'm not belittling the difficulty of trying to break heroin addiction (or any addiction for that matter) but I don't understand how knowing it's not your fault motivates you to rectifying action. I'm not arguing "Just say no" or "Just do it" but how can you even begin to right the wrongs of a life (as Michael put it) if we don't accept responsibility for our actions.

I'll be back,

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14 posted 01-22-2001 12:04 AM       View Profile for dreamer1 12 5 24   Email dreamer1 12 5 24   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for dreamer1 12 5 24

I think that people invented things to try to make life easier. In the course of doing so, they made it more complicated. I know that sounds odd, but think about it. People used to hunt. Period. Maybe make clothes once in a while. Sound like hard work in comparison to today? I guess that's kind of off topic, but I thought I'd throw it out there. Oh, yeah, that thing what Ron said.

....peace as a primary objective is dangerous because it implies that we would sacrifice anything for the sake of it....
Robert Kaplan
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15 posted 01-22-2001 12:58 AM       View Profile for Ron   Email Ron   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Ron's Home Page   View IP for Ron

Marilyn, I'm not sure I can see any real comparison between self-destructive behavior on a personal level versus on a social level. Almost by definition, a person is self-destructive in spite of self interests. But what many consider self-destructive in society is usually the result of someone promoting their self interests, if at the costs of others. The results may seem similar, but the cause is much different.

I'm also not entirely certain I would agree with what is and isn't self-destructive in society. Every generation for the past 5,000 years has thought the world was turning to crap. We're still here. Imperfect, unfinished, but getting better all the time.

I'm not sure, Brad, where you got good versus bad, nor the need to define either. We were, indeed, talking about self-destructive behavior (or, at least, I was). I'm not sure whether bad, i.e., evil, applies to that kind of behavior, but it sure ain't good. Not for those plagued by it.

I don't think the animal behaviors you describe are analogous to the kind of behavior I call self-destructive, except perhaps in the strictest sense. The man who goes off to war or the woman who rushes into a fire to save a child are, in that strict sense, self-destructive, but certainly not in the sense being discussed. If I had to define self-destructive behavior is would be habitually doing something that hurts for seemingly no obvious gain. That's not the same as sacrifice, nor simply making mistakes.

I agree that latter influences in life exist and, in some instances, can be extremely powerful. I know, for me, that was certainly true. I'm not sure choice is as much a factor as chance, and maybe that was your point.

And, yea, I'm very well aware of the seeming paradox between assigning blame and take responsibility. I've personally never had any problem ascribing to both. I firmly believe that most of a person's personality is defined within the first two years of life. Unlike Kamla, I think there are things you can never unlearn (try forgetting your first language, for example). The best we can do is learn to understand them and try to lessen their influence in our lives. At the same time, however, I just as firmly believe that everything that happens in our lives is a direct result of our own choices. Those choices are not preordained unless we willingly relinquish control.

Put another way? For many of us, it's very hard to not be self-destructive. But no one ever said life was easy.
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16 posted 01-23-2001 11:43 PM       View Profile for Marilyn   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Marilyn

Ron, I guess what I was doing with this thread was writing my thoughts during a period of turmoil in my own life. I have done some things in the last few weeks that, in retrospect, were more self-distructive then self-serving. I needed to feel like I was important on some level but in the long run those things were more distructive to my spiritual (emotional) state then helpful. I broadened the scope of my thought to societal to justify? my actions. Taking the inherent ability to create what ultimately distroys you to the grander scale. I do this. You do this. We all do this on some level and as a society we can (and have)create the means to ulimately distory the specis. In our struggle to improve ourselves while still gaining what we need to survive as a emotional indiviual, we make mistake that send us backwards instead of forwards.

This is not necessarily a given in every circumstance but I have found myself there far more often then I truely care to admit. Luckily the only person I have ever hurt has been myself and I pray that will continue to be the case. I guess what I wanted to get some insight on is why I do this to myself and am I the only person who does this or an I the norm? I have learned well that life is not easy but boy is the beauty and wonder so much better once you have been struggling in the dark. Only once you have been truely alone can you see how wonderful people can be (even when they are in the midst of self-distructive

Now I seem to have rambled again. I wonder when you will finally be tired of the wanderings of this tired mind.  
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17 posted 01-24-2001 12:05 AM       View Profile for serenity blaze   Email serenity blaze   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for serenity blaze

Naturally, I am very interested in this...and? thank you Ron, and K, for bringing up the point of it does affect how we utilize the innate energies with which we are born...A very wise friend once told me that he thought people erred, using the words "positive" and "negative"--that proper thinking would bring about a realization of "active" and "receptive"...(both positive by the He furthered told me that energy had no personification beyond ourselves...that energy simply IS. And further, it is to what end that energy is utilized, that personifies US.

Now excuse me while I go write that down five hundred times.
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19 posted 01-27-2001 07:10 PM       View Profile for MrsRabbit   Email MrsRabbit   Edit/Delete Message     View IP for MrsRabbit

Okay then you lot. For me there is no true "Right" or "Wrong". A bit of good and bad can be found in everything; it just depends on which aspect of this Something one decides to focus on. So, I don't really think that people are doing the wrong thing, when they indulge in self-destructive/destructive behaviour; but they are actually self-contradicting what they say they feel is right, by doing something that goes against their ideals, in the given situation.

Eg: "I love animals soo much! By the way, when's the chicken ready?" This person is proclaiming an ideal, but they are acting in a way which goes against it, perhaps due to basal-desires, or even pure habit and familiarity.

Basically, ideals and pragmatics don't mesh very smoothly when it comes to the populous in general.

People seem to get rather muddled for some reason? They will say that they believe in a certain thing one-day, whereas the next day, they may-well contradict themself's in their actions. I think that this could be because it is advantageous to say that you believe something one-day, whereas it can be advantageous the next-day, to drop that principle, if only for a moment.

We are fickle creatures -- yes. I do feel that we can help it, but we need to come out of ourself's . . . give the Ego a bit of a pop (the actual process of doing so is obviously a lot more tricky and labourous than placing a pin against a balloon though).  

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20 posted 01-27-2001 11:51 PM       View Profile for Stephanos   Email Stephanos   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Stephanos's Home Page   View IP for Stephanos

I simply believe that innate in human nature is a problem that goes so deep down, so below the surface and ingrained in who we are and what we are that it affects everything we do.   The bible calls this problem "sin" and affirms that we inherited this nature from our origins and first ancestors.  I truely believe that this is the root of all of humankind's tendencies toward self destruction and mutal destruction.  I am not just speaking out of things I learned from a religious outline,  I am speaking this from my own experience as being a sinful person by nature.  Does this mean that there is no good nature in humans?  No, humanity is rather like a thing which has all the qualities of something good gone bad, something that is not quite what it was originally intended to be.
      We were created by God "in his image" according to Genesis which could account for all the haunting tendencies and desires to do good as well as the consciences we cannot quiet easily.  However the "sin" nature separates us from an unbroken relationship with God (who is the source for all light, life, harmony and unity).  And we need to be regrafted as it were back into the tree of life.  Individuals, according to what the scriptures teach, can come into relationship with God again through the perfect sacrifice of his son who died for our sins.  Since God is holy and perfect in justice and righteousness, someone had to pay a price for our sins.  If someone doesn't we will...eternally.  Yet God came as a man (what a mystery!) who was without sin and payed his own demands.  Therefore anyone who believes this and confesses this recieves the benefits of forgiveness and eternal life.
       However  in the future, the human race as "a whole" will see the truth of God.  He will establish a humanity and society where self destruction and depravity will not exist at large (because it will be absent in the microcosm of the heart and soul).  This doesn't teach that everyone will be saved but that there is a glorious new world rising on the crest for those who pine for it.  That is an awesome promise to a world that somehow always seems to go awry, even in its good intentions... just look at the history books.  

I know this is not the politically correct view, but I believe it is true with all of my heart and not because my upbringing taught me so.   It is revealed to a person's spirit by God's Spirit... this occurs many different ways and at many different times in life.  

If anyone is interested in an excellent book that explains the truth of Christianity beginning from a philosophical ground and not a "religious" one,  try (MERE CHRISTIANITY) by C.S. Lewis.  
This book swept me away, even when I did not, or could not totally believe.



[This message has been edited by Stephanos (edited 01-27-2001).]
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