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“It’s just human nature to _______” is B.S.

Share the story. Spark change.

How many people have come along saying “It’s just human nature to _____”? It’s human nature to be greedy. It’s human nature to love. It’s human nature to be selfish. It’s human nature to live in community. It’s human nature to sin. And on and on and on.

Everyone has their own end they are trying to convince us of. Sometimes it’s put to use to tell us that we are trapped in a current sinful version of ourselves and must atone. At others, it’s used to tell us we are saved, that our core selves are good and right.

But whichever way it’s used, it always serves to close conversation, not open it. It says “This is the way it is. This is the only way it could be.” Even when seemingly used toward positivity, at its core it’s saying that we are a certain way, now and always, regardless of how we act.

What we miss when we say this is that human nature is always evolving. What we miss is that human nature could be different and almost certainly will be at some point.

It may have been human nature to be selfish at a time and may even still be, for example. But it’s also at least possible that we could transcend this nature. It’s not inherent to us. In fact, I feel confident saying that some already have.

It may be human nature to be loving, that we are inherently good and can rid ourselves of our shame. That can be an extremely positive and nourishing belief for us to take on for ourselves. But we also still need to actually be loving for that to remain true.

We want to convince ourselves that human nature is a certain way. It’s not. It’s not selfish. It’s not sinful. It’s not loving. It’s changing.

It’s up to us to define what it means to be human and to demonstrate that in action.

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Peter Schulte

Peter Schulte is the founder and editor of Kindling. Peter is also Senior Digital Engagement Associate for the Pacific Institute and the UN Global Compact's CEO Water Mandate, connecting businesses to sustainable water practices. Peter holds a B.S. in Conservation and Resource Studies and a B.A. in Comparative Literature from University of California, Berkeley, and an M.B.A. in Sustainable Systems from Pinchot University. He lives in Bellingham, WA, USA with his wife, son, and cat.

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