Monday, April 25, 2016

Can Our Flawed Human Nature Be Changed?

If human nature as a whole were capable of change, then Zeus, the ruler god of all gods in Greek mythology (by Homer, probably 2,900 years ago), wouldn't behave exactly like former President Bill Clinton. Zeus cheated on his wife Hera, seduced every maiden he could lay his hands on - using every trick and lie he could think of - and gleefully drove Hera insane with jealousy. Hera abused and wreaked vengeance on all who took Zeus's affections from her, or who got in the way. Hello, Hillary Clinton. 

Likewise, President Richard Nixon behaved like Richard III in Shakespeare's play. Even after Nixon won his landslide second-term victory in 1972, he acted in paranoid, wounded, and vengeful ways that eventually brought down his entire presidency. His enemies in the Democratic Party and national press behaved just like the raging crowds depicted in plays written in ancient Greece, Rome, and Europe, right up to our present day. 

The social media mobs of Facebook, Twitter, and use the same tactics and methods to threaten and destroy people that we've seen since humankind invented the first alphabets. The mobs rebelled against Moses, called for the release of the murderer Barabbas, and the crucifixion of Jesus. They fueled the witch hunts and the Inquisition of the past. 

Every person who ever lived recognized at one time or another that our human weaknesses must be dealt with, and that we're flawed beings; prone to rage, greed, vindictiveness, violence, and sloth. Among other things. 

No wonder, then, that we want a better world. But how? Childhood education has been worked, reworked, and reformed, since time immemorial, to weed out anti-social behavior at the outset, before it could become habitual. How's that working out for us?

Most of our world politics is socialist and communist, consumed with and dedicated to social justice (actually social engineering), which promises that human flaws can be trained, bred, or punished out of us. Over two-hundred years ago, beginning with the French Revolution, radicals threw out religion, believing it was the cause of human suffering. The results they sought never appeared, and a descent into mob rule and mass murder abated only with the dictator Napoleon. When he collapsed, France reverted to the monarchist and Catholic country it was before. 

Karl Marx, through his pamphlet The Communist Manifesto, succeeded in provoking a string of bloody communist revolutions throughout Europe in 1848-49, known as the Springtime of the Peoples. Every one of these upheavals promised peace, prosperity, justice, and a better life. But they all began and ended violently, collapsing within a year (Link)

Great Britain was the only European nation that didn't suffer revolution, due to her strong emphasis on individual human rights, Protestant religion, the rule of law, veneration for Queen Victoria, and the rising middle class of prosperous citizens with social mobility. Charles Dickens brilliantly chronicled the hunger and suffering of the poor, and was rewarded with great wealth. Countless charities were formed to relieve or mitigate poverty. 

The siren song of social "leveling" sung by Marx had been tried once before, during and after the English Civil War (1642-51) (Link). The war's provocateur, Oliver Cromwell, chopped off King Charles the First's head and ruled as a dictator until 1658, producing mayhem and misery unparallelled in British history up until then. 

Ironically, Marx found refuge in Britain, and lived there for 34 years. It was the only country with genuine rule of law; and where he was free to speak, publish, drink, and sponge off his followers. 

You would think by now the alluring tune of Marxist/socialists - with only centuries of failure to show for their efforts - would be ignored. But you'd be wrong. Now labelled Progressivism, it flourishes. Most recently Venezuela's late dictator, Hugo Chavez, engineered a Marxist coup that overthrew the elected government. Chavez handed out money to everyone he liked and while the money lasted, people were happy. But when he died of cancer the bankrupt state slid into chaos. Chavez's hand-picked successor, Maduro, is a clueless bully. Today Venezuela is in a state of collapse (Link).

Tragically, the one proven system that has never failed as long as the rule of law prevailed - free markets run by free people - is under constant attack by Progressives. Why? Because it closes off the possibility of dictatorship. Free peoples periodically desire changes and adjustments in their politics, and old power-hungry politicians are voted out of office. Tyrants hate this flushing action which removes waste and fraud. 

So what has changed in all of civilization's tumultuous existence? The wheel of history proves that, "what goes around comes around." We're stuck in an endless global cycle of repetition, and only the names, places, and costumes have changed. Funny how prophetic the Hindus have been in describing their Wheel of Life (Link). They see no beginning or end, except for the individual, who can escape by awakening to it.  

This is what the Western Tradition of Judeo-Christianity offers. Permanent escape from death and misery. But you and I must act alone to seek God and escape. We can help each other, but we can do it even without human assistance by acting with love, charity, forgiveness, and generosity (Link)

                     Homer, writer of The Iliad and the Odyssey, whose 
                         insights into human behavior dazzle us today.