How Can Humans Become More Humane?

Human history is filled with aggression, violence, betrayal, greed, and other negative acts. How can we become more humane?

While there are plenty of instances of people treating each other with grace and dignity, the opposite is alarmingly common. And all too often, the underlying cause is suspicion and mistrust of the other.

It is easy to understand bad behavior when life and death is on the line. If my family is going to starve, I might steal your food to feed them. That may not be right, but it makes sense.

However, what do we make of more abstract differences? Why do we attack or enslave someone else because their skin color is different from ours? Or they pray to a different god? Or they speak a different language?

There may be an evolutionary cause to our behavior. A person who mistrusted others in different tribal groups may have been more likely to survive into adulthood and have offspring. We may be hardwired that way.

Now however, that same behavior is counterproductive at best, and actively destructive at worst. We can see divisions growing between groups for the simplest of reasons. People are insulted and attacked online, which ruins the experience for everyone. Misogyny, homophobia, racism all run rampant in today’s society.

Is there any way we can improve things? Can we train ourselves to treat others with respect and compassion, even if we don’t know them? Can we overcome our baser instincts and be more humane? On a personal level, what do you do if you suspect you might be succumbing to your darker nature?

Related questions: How can we encourage meaningful conversation? Why do we hate? How can you love someone who does something you hate? Why does social media often bring out the worst in us?

Are You Worried About The Coming Year?

While there is certainly good news in the world, there are several areas that may be cause for concern in the coming year. Are you worried?

As a new year begins, sometimes you can be optimistic about the future. However, if your tendency is to be pessimistic, there are plenty of things to be worried about.

A notable one, at least in the U.S., is that it is a presidential election year. Politics are already dividing our nation in a way not seen for decades, and a presidential race threatens to cause even further inflame tensions. As misinformation spreads quickly, the two sides have difficulty agreeing on basic facts.

Another concern is climate change. Each year is warmer than the previous year, which has led to a stunning number of environmental disasters: floods, wildfires, droughts, hurricanes, tornadoes, mudslides, and so on. The pattern would seem to suggest this year will see even more extreme weather across the globe.

Two ongoing wars, one between Russia and Ukraine, and another between Israel and Hamas, have many feeling uneasy. In addition to the increase of immigrants fleeing for their lives, both conflicts could have drastic impacts on the world.

Technology continues to shape our lives in radical ways. The rise of social media has left many users feeling isolated and depressed. The coming age of artificial intelligence may touch nearly every sector of the economy, threatening to change our lives in ways we don’t yet understand.

Is this doom and gloom warranted? There are also positive news stories — do they get pushed aside for headline-grabbing bad news? Is our anxiety legitimate, or are we kept in a state of fear by corporations and governments with ulterior motives?

Are you worried about the coming year?

Related questions: What is the greatest problem facing humanity? How is climate change impacting you? Will the future be better than the present?

 

Why Do Some People Like To Be Scared?

From scary movies to extreme roller coasters, some people enjoy being scared. But why? What is appealing about being frightened?

Halloween has some traditions that are fun, but there are also some that are legitimately scary. While some costumes, for example, are pop-culture references, or animals. Others though, are intended to be legitimately frightening, like zombies or vampires.

Some people actually enjoy being scared. Horror movies are often quite successful at the box office, for instance. Similarly, in the days and weeks leading up to Halloween, haunted houses, with jump scares and fake blood, have long lines.

Why should this be? Most people spend their lives trying to avoid fear, or at least trying to be comfortable. They might move away from a neighborhood that has a lot of crime, or carry a flashlight on a dark road.

So then, why court fear? What is it about being scared that is so enjoyable?

Perhaps it is a matter of facing your fears so that they no longer have a hold over you. Maybe some enjoy the adrenaline rush that accompanies a jump scare. Perhaps there is some subtle difference between a truly scary situation, and one that is only imagined or acted out.

Do you have any theories on why fear plays a big role in the lives of some people? Are you one of those people? If so, what do you get out of the act of being frightened?

Related questions: What is your favorite scary movie? Are you scared of the dark? What is your favorite holiday? Vampires or zombies? Trick or treat?