Hamsters are ridiculously cute.
However, hamster owners, or anyone who knows a thing or two about them, knows that hamsters can be real monsters.
If they catch a whiff of you on their babies, they eat their babies. If you put two in a cage, they will fight until one dies and the living one will gobble up the dead one.
One time I made the mistake of trapping my hamster on my chest, which was dumb – especially since a few days ago I had just watched a movie where some mob boss tortured his victim by trapping mice on his stomach with a bucket. When I felt the hamster frantically trying to dig into me to escape, I knew I goofed.
Yet, despite everything that’s so evil about hamsters, they are still cute and still make great pets. Don’t touch their babies, and they won’t eat their babies. Don’t put two adults together, and they won’t murder and eat each other. Don’t do dumb things around them, and they won’t try to eat you.
Properly caged and fed, they are adorable angels.
In the same way, people also have potential for great good and evil.
Our traits and nature are derived from millennial of evolution, combined with thousands of years of scientific advancement. Our biological nature is what it is – an artifact of the barbarism that was our evolution – because once we established civilization, natural selection simply became less and less apparent. There is no way we can biologically evolve in any meaningful way within any reasonable time frame, so human nature as it is, is what we have.
It is simply natural for a creature whose origin was entirely caused by survival to try to survive. I doubt there is a single person who wouldn’t do extreme things under extreme circumstances.
Progress isn’t about changing human nature. People think they can simply repeat a sentiment over and over again and their body structure will be all like “okay boss I will now transform myself to fit your arbitrarily defined parameters”, that’s why telling is such a big part of contemporary moral education. But it doesn’t work that way.
Progress isn’t about changing human nature. It’s about mitigating human nature. People do extreme things under extreme circumstances, progress is making sure such extreme circumstances never transpire. Progress is about organizing ourselves in a way where it just happens that the only relevant aspects of human nature are the good ones.
We need to recognize that nobody is inherently good or evil. Change the circumstances and you can change what the person wants to do. Critics will say “you got any bright ideas”, well, the fun part is figuring out how.