Good or Bad by Nature

Instinct is the one thing that humans mostly fall prey to. While we might all want to think of ourselves in control, instincts can take control.

I personally think that monogamous relationships are not for everyone, and have always respected the friends that openly do not want to settle down. They know that the instinct to be with several people is stronger than their desire to be part of what society sees as normal when it comes to relationships.

I also have found that when you do commit to a relationship, the easiest way not to cheat is to not put yourself in situations where you are going to. While you can stop it from happening, instinct can take over and you are left with lots to deal with.

I don’t like watching movies that are about cheating, however this weekend my wife wanted to see The Bridges of Madison County. For some reason I thought it was a sports movie, but in the end I was glad I watched it. Even though the movie was about cheating it was also a love story.

For those of you that have not see this movie, it is basically the story of a housewife that even thought not unhappy seems to be in a very dull marriage. After her death, her kids have to go through her state and find out an untold story about their mother’s life. While the rest of the family is out of town, the Mom meets a man that makes her feel alive again and they have a very short affair that seems to change the rest of their lives. The main character sacrifices love, maybe even true love, for her family and her sense of responsibility.

Even thought she cheated, the movie does not make her out to be the villain. Even at the end, her kids seem to be ok with everything that happened. Is she a good person because she followed her brain instead of her heart, of a bad person because she cheated on her husband?

I have been thinking about people’s nature recently. I don’t think that people are good or bad by nature, but at times I am not entirely certain. Is the capability for deceit a learned behavior or something innate?

5 Responses to Good or Bad by Nature

  1. Relationships are complicated and when you add children, its even moreso.

    People, maybe even women in general, can be seen as selfish when they think of their own happiness over their children. I throw the bullshit flag. It is important to be happy and take steps to be happy as it is teaching your children that living in a relationship that is not feeding you spiritually should be tossed aside if it cannot be repaired.

    Those are brave choices though and it means striking out on your own and dealing with all the hard choices of why you left “daddy.”

    So I get why Meryl Streep did it. Leaving was never an option for her. Bad relationships can make you forget that you’re alive too and that “living” isn’t reserved for everyone else. People need to be reminded that they are vital and a part of the human experience.

    And sometimes an affair, in the right context, can make you feel just that, similar to tasting the right piece of chocolate. It should never be confused with enlightenment or evolution, but if it can raise the bar of your own self esteem to the point that it reminds you of what you’re capable of and what you deserve to feel on a daily basis . . .

  2. They have a tour in Madison County Iowa. My folks did it. They even took a photo (clothed) in a bathtub that was supposed to be pivotal to the plot.

    I dunno tho, never read/saw it.

    As for our natures, I suspect that at any given time we have certain predilections. But I think we can change our natures over time, given enough work.

  3. I believe that the temptation to do bad (and the ability to follow-through) is just part of the human condition. It is also part of the human condition to be able to resist the temptation, and we should aspire to the better angels of our nature. Now some people, by mental disease or defect, are not able to follow through on that, but that’s rare for the majority of humankind, thankfully.

  4. “For some reason I thought it was a sports movie…”

    Don’t ever change, Logtar. Don’t ever change…

    Enculturation can only mask so much; what you refer to as ‘instincts’ is simply the legacy of shared DNA with our simian ancestors. Deceit, warmth, openness, hatred, love…all these and more are already encoded in us. Evolution and thousands of years of civilization have “taught” us to forbear the more violent and anti-social of these tendencies -all reality is consensual after all- by placing a premium on group dynamics and interaction.

    But when placed in situations were normative behavior is not immediately reinforced (if at all) very often people revert to their base ‘instincts’. This is neither good nor bad in a moral sense, it simply is.

    In fact, nearly half the world’s troubles come from identifying behavior against a moral scale; the other more dangerous half of our ills arises from the atavistic notion that some imaginanery, supernatural being not only created us, but still ruins our lives on a daily basis for a) sport, b) instruction, and/or c) it is mad.

    And while I would personally be inclined to more rapidly cull these traits from our ever diminishing social intellect, there is a profoundly melancholy portion of myself that recognizes that the pack is so addicted to viewing and judging the behavioral choices of others (as well as ascribing all woe, bad luck and the misfortunes of nature to an all seeing, all powerful sadist) that in many instances we are devolving.

    Which in a round-about way answers your question; the capability for ‘deceit’ is innate, but can, unfortunately, be reinforced.

  5. You have to remember that there was at one point in the married couples life true love as well. Otherwise they wouldn’t have had the kids or got married in the first place. Now it is a kown fact that some relation ships do get STALE as they years go by. And it’s not uncommon for some to look outside their relationship to find what was lost. But I would think it would take a lot more love and devotion to fight those urges. And do what in society’s view is right.

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