Hoping for Mankind???: Sari Nusseibeh 3 of 4

Life has been a distraction from writing lately – an extension of this series to 4 posts is your reward for patience! And, here is a reminder of how I ended the last post:

Dr. Nusseibeh’s faith in humanity and endless optimism is refreshing yet confounding.  The next and last post will be my response to this.  Is this hope in mankind enough?  Is it sustainable?  And, if not, what is?  And, if not, then what are we left with?

Hope in mankind? If you look at the world today with its freedom, enlightened advancement and awareness about very complex things, with this idea of inherent goodness of man, there is virtually no reason the world should not be experiencing anything but prosperity, peace and health. Yet, with even a short gander at world headlines, we see that war, greed and preventable health problems such as hunger, malaria and depression impact every all corners of the world. We, as a race of beings, have everything at our disposal to exist without many of these problems. So, what is the problem? Why have we not overcome the trials of this world?

Inherent goodness in mankind simply does not exist – see the first 3 chapters of Romans. I cannot agree with Professor Nusseibeh on this. By ourselves, we take freedom, wealth and power and seek to increase and defend. And, if any of these are threatened, our actions result in the exact opposite for some others that are seeking these too. We want the good things and we don’t want anyone else to take what is ours. And worse yet, we don’t want anyone to take what someday may, even remotely possibly, might be ours. Our kind deeds often are seeking status or escape from loss of wealth – year-end non-profit giving in the US comes to mind. (Yes, my family benefits from this!) What is a good offer on behalf of the government to allow people to help others has become a calculated scheme to pay the least taxes. “I will give to prevent the government from taking.”

Even (especially) Christians (and other religious people) can take the very good things that God has given us and use them for self-preservation or self-promotion. If you are offended by this, then look up the Crusades…or modern suburbia (yes, my family sort of still lives there) for that matter. Stewardship of family has nearly paralyzed the Western Church, insulating it from true sacrifice.

My overarching point here is that mankind simply does not have an inherent goodness. Any evidence of goodness comes from either societal influence or norms or from a much higher source. And, the formers are an extension of the latter.

I don’t think, given enough time, the Palestinian/Israeli conflict will resolve simply because either group will suddenly care so much for peace that they will concede the necessary points. As history has proven, even if a large group cares enough to really push for peace, others will sabotage this because it means losing power or wealth. Think Arafat here…or Israeli settlements. Arafat could have agreed to a two-state solution producing years of near peace. But, that would have caused his flow of monetary support from across the Middle East to dry up. The refusal to stop or retract the Israeli settlements is about creating a dominant presence and supremely defensible position – in reality it equates more to offense than defense. By procuring more land for Israel it is extinguishing the existence for so many native Arabs. Neither position resembles, in the least, inherent good or care for greater mankind.

So, where does that leave us? Are we destined to self-destruction? I’ll extend this to another post – one just around the corner – not months away – maybe.

Feel free to post any comments or to challenge this in any way. Just click on the comment bubble next to the title of this post.

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2 thoughts on “Hoping for Mankind???: Sari Nusseibeh 3 of 4

  1. I have to agree. I’ll take it one step further, however. There are some Atheists who think that religion is a good thing just because it keeps society in line, anarchy and chaos from breaking out. Can you imagine if somehow it were proven that Jesus was not the Son of God (I’m not arguing this, by the way), and that God does not exist? I know, it does not seem remotely possible to prove it, with our current state of knowledge. But, just suspend reality for a moment and imagine the consequences. In many ways, the notion is that belief in religion (and fear of Hell) keeps people in check, and that people would act far worse without it.

    • Interesting point Mark! I agree that organized religion produces an order in society. But, I don’t think that is the point of Christianity. In fact, much of following Christ makes very little sense. It involves such commitment to self-sacrifice for the sake of others, the Kingdom of God and not out of an obligation but out of love for God and others. It isn’t “make the most out of this life” like it has sort of become in the religious sense of modern Christianity. But, if Christianity or other religions only have this calming effect on society I’m not sure that is enough to warrant such sacrifice. In fact, if Christ is not risen from the tomb then it is all fairly pointless and we should live for today…because tomorrow we die. But, if it is true (which I believe) we go from living a life afraid of death and hell to living for a future that is endless and full of glory. Then the sacrifice in this life seems rather short and worthwhile. This is the difference in Christianity as a religion and Christianity as a Christ-follower. If eternity in glory is available, isn’t that worth so much more than an orderly society today?

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