Is Human Nature Natural?
You hear what they say every day.
The lords of conformity — who wish to make peasants of us — insist that people’s lives can be manipulated infinitely because, they say, there is, at bottom, no such thing as a fixed and enduring human nature. We are not much better than monkeys.
Hear this as an attack on religion, since they mean we have no souls. And, by lacking a soul, your personal pretense, above other animals, to any special dignity… is snuffed out. By then the conformists got you where they want you, and don’t think for a second the idea doesn’t excite them. You can hear it in their voices.
Does human nature exist? Why even bother trying to defuse a loaded question? Fundamental good will, I’m afraid. Normal peoples’ mistake is we always hope taking conformists seriously will somehow bring them to their senses. It’s the touching good manners of our defeat, this solemn pretense of zombie training.
Does human nature exist? Gee, zombie, let’s see. What about the laughter of old folks? If there were no human nature, what else could possibly strike the dying as being funny? Do growing kids learn more about themselves from homework or from each other? Also, lest we forget, along with our religions, grandly getting swept aside by conformists are recorded History and all the world’s great treasures of Art.
They are quite sure in their own minds they are more rational than we. Please, conformists, abandon smug pretensions to science. Limping is not a triumphant new way to skip. Nor is taking yourself for a monkey the humane thing to do. Actually, the simplest proof of an authentic human nature in action must, by definition, show up when we least act like monkeys.
Before bothering to prove the obvious, let’s admit words alone can never establish our first and most essential fact, which is how normal it is for human nature to impinge on and constantly be surrounded by mysteries. What is naturally human is also supernatural.
For proof of human nature, however, all we need is a good example of humanity caught demonstrating itself. That means nothing a monkey might also do. Logic dictates, if we uncover even one uniquely human trait held in common always by all peoples everywhere, then conformists are mistaken.
I am thinking of a cliche. Each world language has its own version of this cliche. It is so universal, people barely notice saying it anymore. Which is odd, actually, because this trite little motto is a magic formula seven-million-years-old and everywhere still remembered because it has never failed us.
Seven million years ago monkeys began evolving into human beings. God only knows out of what thick-tongued chatter our magic formula first erupted, but erupt it did – this ritual exhortation which summons, out of animal darkness, that fabulous mythical beast, the natural man.
So, in English, to this day, we say: “Hold your head high.” “Stand up straight.” “Show some spine.” “Stiffen your backbone.” “Walk tall.” “Ten-HUT!”
This is not prayer, nor simply a call to calisthenics. More like pulling a finer soul down into oneself from above — and, please, Man, take better control of the nervous system of this half-monkey body!
It’s odd, if you say so, conformists, but undeniable nonetheless. Some immortal force of aspiration plucks us up, up! We are “the vertical mammal. ” Chinese traditionally call the crown of the head “point of aspiration.” And in both tai chi and yoga — ancient bodily exercises so sophisticated they broach the spiritual — a chakra or point of vital emphasis appears above the cranium. Even small children feel heaven or, at least, Neverland is up there.
What is it the vertical mammal has aspired to for so long that even now we discover mankind’s birth cry engraved in our speech like archeological stone? Anyway, this magic spell is the original, foremost and eternal essence of human nature. Case closed.
…Yet the tense and empty among us somehow overlook their immortal ghostly selves and see only monkeys. Very well, I answered your question, conformists, so now let me ask you.
Why did the monkey stand up in the first place?