Human Nature?

Last year I was hiking in the Cascade Mountains of Oregon near Mount Hood. Near the side of the trail I came across a hollowed out stump of a tree. The stump was about 5 feet high and 3 feet across. You could see into the stump through an archway at the base and it was quite striking the way the sun light spilled in from the opening at the top bringing out the rich red color of the rotting wood. Stumps like this are very common throughout the Pacific Northwest.

What was uncommon was that someone had piled a number of river rocks of varying sizes one on top of the other in the center of this stump. It looked like a pagoda bathed in the red glow of the sunlight.

I remember thinking, “What would cause someone to do this?”

“Is it human nature for people to want to create something beautiful?”

As I walked away I felt good about human nature. I was glad that some anonymous person was trying to make the world a prettier place.

A little later we turned around and were hiking back along the same stretch of trail. We came across the same stump, but this time, the stack of pagoda rocks had been knocked down. In the hour since we had passed this random act of beauty, someone simply destroyed it in another random act. Why? For what purpose? Now I was struck with my second thought:

“Is it human nature for people to want to destroy something beautiful?”

Which case was true? Create or Destroy? Did people have one nature or the other? Did people have both at the same time? Was one urge stronger than the other? Is it simply easier to destroy than create? What makes a person want to take the harder route? Is it a conflict in everyone or just part of the balance of life?

What is your nature? Which impulse wins out for you?

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2 Comments on “Human Nature?”

  • #1  malachi trizec

    i always get an almost irrisistable urge to touch, poke, & otherwise investigate with my hands sculptures etc in museums — so maybe “human nature” is more innate curiosity-and-damn-all-consequences than anything more profound &/or poetic.

  • #2  OldGuy

    I love coming across beautiful surprises like that.

    Unforunately not everybody appreciates them.

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