Sunday, March 27, 2011

Human Nature

A few weeks ago I was over at a friend's house with a group of guys I've known for over twenty years.  The night went in two phases.  The first part of the night was filled with joking, reminiscing and making fun of each other.  Pretty standard stuff for people that have known each other for twenty plus years.  The second part of the night was a bit different than usual.  We had some very serious discussions about Human Nature and what it was.  It's not like we said, 'hey, what is human nature?'  but everything we started talking about came back to human nature.  These are conversations I never would have had when I met these guys in high school.  We weren't capable of such in depth conversations.  After all we didn't have the life lessons that have been taught to us over the last twenty (pushing twenty five now).  So, what is human nature and is it the link that binds us historically to our ancestors more than anything else?

According to Human Nature is:
the psychological and social qualities that characterize humankind, especially in contrast with other living things.

What does that mean?  My take on it is this, it's basically what makes us, as humans, unique from anything else on this planet.  A lot of it is how we react with the knowledge we know.  George Santayana's famous (often misquoted) saying "Those who can not remember the past are condemned to repeat it." is very thought provoking.  I'd like to take it one step further.  Even if we know history and the past, we see the mistakes and blunders of others, we often repeat them.  Why?  Not because we are stupid, if we were stupid we would have been extinct long ago.  But because we have human nature.  We make many choices based on our emotions.  Even if that does not make sense.  Why do you think it is said that hind sight is 20/20?  Because, looking back on situations in retrospect is usually done with less emotion and more of an analytical mind.  I feel our strong sense of emotions are one of the things that make us human.  So maybe the mistakes we make aren't really mistakes, they are just us doing what we do as human race.  

Tell me what you think?  Do you like to hear that your mistakes are part of who you are?  It also means your successes are part of who you are.   Have a great week and I'll hopefully post more later this week.


  1. I hope people don't just use the excuse "Oh well, it's human nature!" It's to easy to fall back on that & I think it belittles the whole idea. Great topic by the way. We are human so we should trust our reasons but it's also great to be able to think things through clearly (not easy to do at times). Mistakes can lead to great things so maybe we are suppose to experience them but not use them as the excuse to do something that goes against our very nature to be independent thinkers.
    Wow, this reminds me of conversations that we use to have in college! They would seem to go on forever & then your brain would hurt afterward & so would your cheeks from laughing so hard!
    I know one thing, as much as it can hurt to be a human with thoughts & feelings & mistakes it's also an amazing gift!
    Totally never thought that, "successes are part of who you are." Love that!!!
    Thanks John

  2. Nice post Dana. I agree anyone that uses my thoughts about "Human Nature" as an excuse is missing the point. We are wired for some things and we can make decisions on some things.

    I love your comment about experiencing the mistakes so we are better people!

    Ahh... The good ole' college days.

  3. I'm definitely emotional...not analytical. That's why some of my comments come back to bite me in the ass...but I'm OK with that because that's who I am...Love me or hate me...I really don't care. I'm honest and I can look myself in the mirror every day and I can look my kids in the eyes as well. I think it's important to use emotion when making choices in life. Life isn't black or white and emotion lends to the grey areas. I believe we "cluster" to those human natures that resemble our own. That fact that we're still friends with the same people from grade school and high school proves that. Another example: My youngest son, Braydn (6) kept talking about his new best friend at school, Tyler...Tyler is the best! He's so awesome! He loves the same exact things I do! It's like we're brothers! It turns out Tylers uncle was the best man at our wedding...mmmm, imagine that...human nature? Coincidence? I'm not sure...I will say this, what you call "human nature", I'll call good parenting...I'll call my circle of friends...I'll call my family...I'll call my emotions...thanks for another smile John!

  4. Very well said Maggie. I think all those things are human nature!! Deep down inside it's who we are. Your son connecting with Tyler is like your best man's connection to your hubby. Cool point.

  5. Recently, scientists have found evidence that dogs experience emotions like jealousy, happiness and sadness so I'm not sure if emotions are what set us apart from other creatures. I think how we utilize our emotions may be what separates us.

    OH! Also, there was an interesting study done with baboons; adolescent males leave their "pack" (or whatever a group o' 'boons are called) and strike out on their own to join another group. Typically, they are met with hostility from the new males. In one particular group in which all the adult males had died out, the adolescents were greeted warmly and included immediately. Their offspring did NOT show the "typical aggression" associated with baboons. The question from that study becomes is hostility really a given for sapiens?

    Sounds like it was a very interesting evening, thanks for sharing!!!

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