We Can Be Good. We’ve Done it Before.

“Are humans innately selfish, greedy and war-like?” This is the question I love to ask my students at the start of the semester. They always answer the same way, with a resounding “yes.”

But this question cannot be answered merely by what we observe around us today nor can we look to history, since recorded history represents only five percent of humans’ time on earth. We must instead ask what humans were like in prehistory, from our first appearance on earth roughly 200,000 years ago. This can tell us about humans’ capabilities.

What the facts show is that we are capable of living cooperatively, without disparities of wealth, with a high degree of gender equality and no barriers of ethnicity or race. This is not a theory or a hope. Instead, anthropologists like me know we can live this way because facts show this is the way we have lived for most of our existence on earth.

And we continue to have these capabilities even today. I do not deny the extraordinary human cruelty all around us. But if we don’t recognize our potential to be good, then we will assume we are destined to be bad. And assuming —> Read More Here


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