Saturday, October 2, 2010

Human potential is underrated

My son's class learned about Stanley Milgram's famous "shock" experiments, where nearly 50% of subjects were willing to shock another human being to death because a man in a white lab coat told them to. My son is exceedingly upset about the baseness of human nature.

Here's what I tried to tell him today, summed up much better than I could do by Abraham Maslow:
"“If we want to know how fast a human being can run, then it is no use to average out the speed of a ‘good sample’ of the population; it is far better to collect Olympic gold medal winners and see how well they can do.

If we want to know the possibilities for spiritual growth, value growth, or moral development in human beings, then I maintain that we can learn most by studying our most moral, ethical, or saintly people.

On the whole I think it is fair to say that human history is a record of the ways in which human nature has been sold short. The highest possibilities of human nature have practically always been underrated"

We have to look at our best to see what we can be; perhaps we can look at the worst we can be so that we know what to avoid, yes. But, don't forget to also look at what we humans can do in the face of adversity. Don't forget Lincoln, Gandhi, Dr. King, Mother Theresa, Moses, and others who were the change they believed in the world!

1 comment:

  1. Nice title which says alot. You are so right in saying we need to look at the best examples who have shown what is possible.

    Human "resources" are at times limited by what is imposed on them. Individuals are sold short all of the time. One of my nephews is so bright he gets bored in class and would misbehave. His teacher advised to prescribe medicine for his condition. With better discipline at home and more challenging courses he is getting A's without medication and he won the school spelling bee.

    How many valuable contributions are made by specific individuals on a spiritual, moral, and sacrificial level which can never be measured? Mothers, fathers, and educators contribute in this way much of the time...