I was reading the latest on Sam Mullet this morning, the Amish breakaway bishop implicated in the beard-cutting attacks in eastern Ohio (Mullet’s attorney is requesting release for his client because he needs to be at home to keep the wood-stove going….I’m sorry, that’s pretty lame…I think the attorney could have come up with something better…I think Mullet’s wife and adult kids can probably figure out how to run a wood-stove). Anyway, the Mullet saga represents bad stuff, obviously. On the opposite spectrum, I’m sitting here reading these stories on a laptop borrowed from my wife (SIGH, mine is down right now) at the Second Street Market in Dayton, Ohio. Here I get a cozy vibe of general goodness, people out and about shopping local and eating good food, spending time with family. Sometimes I have a tendency to over-think stuff, but my college degree is in philosophy. So I do think a lot about human nature which brings me to today’s “Saturday discussion” Do you think people are fundamentally good beings who want to do the right thing? Or do you think people are, by nature, bad beings who only live righteously because of societal norms and rules without which we would fall back into our dark ways? And what role does religion play in sorting this out? The classic book Lord of the Flies was a sobering analysis of humanity’s inherent nature (good vs. evil) and has stayed with me since I first read it.
Topics of good vs. evil are recurrent themes in my upcoming Amish-oriented fiction novel. I think inherently,the Amish project an aura of automatic goodness with their pastoral ways and earthy ambiance, but as Sam Mullet – and other Amish have taught us recently – that isn’t an always an accurate picture. As I’ve always preached to people, the Amish are no different than the rest of us with good and bad. But which is the “default, factory-settings” on human nature: good or evil? Or is it more complicated than categorization allows? On the flip of Sam Mullet, some of the nicest, most warm, decent people I’ve met have been Old Order Amish. I keep hoping as I get older that human nature will become clearer to me, but I sometimes find the opposite is true. So what are your thoughts?