Culture Online


So! Are people cruel, and if not why?

What makes human beings do cruel things? Are people born cruel or do they learn it? Let's explore what makes people tick below...

protestor holding up a sign with an angry face on it

My answer is a clear and resounding no! I believe that people – all people – have incredible potential to think, feel and do the most amazing things in life for themselves and others. 

Think for a moment! People decided they wish to travel to the other side of the world and meet new civilizations and they created airplanes that allow us to fly. People decided that they have incredibly powerful emotions and they have written heart-moving poetry. People decided that they care so deeply for one another that they devote their entire lives in studying to become doctors and so many other professions to help other people in their most vulnerable moments. People decided that life needs to be enjoyed and they have created the funniest of movies and theatre plays and composed sublime music. So, in my mind, all people are innately good, kind and intelligent. 

So, why do they do bad, even cruel as you say, things? For me, a cruel act is a cry for help. Behind cruelty is someone who is hurting so much that they become afraid to imagine how they can be good. And this is why justice in our society is so important. 

About 10 years ago, I watched a documentary about children who have been removed from their families because their homes where not safe. The lady who was being interviewed was asked: what does a child need to grow up and be happy? She replied: three things, a roof over their head and food, clean clothes and a dream. Similarly, the philosophers say that people are incredible and can change anything because they can imagine! So, cruelty is a symptom and not a characteristic or an innate feature of human beings. It is the result of hurt and pain that has been experienced by a human being before they have had the chance to develop the mechanisms that we all need to cope with hurt and pain. 

We can all be cruel, because we can all be hurt and feel pain, and this is why it is so important to be kind and care deeply about one another and create a society that gives everyone the opportunity to be their incredible selves!