prompt: is humankind inherently good or inherently evil? use the books we've read (and the movie, Hotel Rwanda) and create an argument for either human decency or human depravity.
it's five pages single spaced and I need help with trimming it down to 3 pages and grammar correction/changing terms/clarity (help make it sound better overall)- thank you! :)
A sinless life is impossible. Humanity is inherently evil because to be good, one must be perfect. According to my belief, Christianity, this perfection cannot be attained by anyone because everyone has committed a transgression.. In other words, noone is good because noone is perfect, and everyone is evil because everyone is sinful. As said in the bible, in Psalm chapter 51, verse 5, "Behold, I was shapen in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me". We were all born into this world from sinful people, and we are sinful people. We have selfish desires and often act upon those selfish desires.
I grew up going to many churches, where I would hear the same messages over and over again, that everyone was sinful and we wouldn't go to heaven unless we accepted Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior. I learned in bible school that Adam and Eve had eaten the fruit of knowledge against God's wishes, and had started the cycle of sin in which we all follow. It was Son of God, Jesus, who had died on the cross to save the sinners from going to hell, as said in John Chapter 3 verse17,' For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.', for "God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." , John 3:16.
I find that Heart of Darkness and Things Fall Apart have subtle and some not so subtle inferences to the authors' idea of Christianity. In Heart of Darkness, the author Joseph Conrad describes the world of the main protagonist, Marlow, with symbols of light versus darkness
Throughout Heart of Darkness, Conrad uses images of darkness to represent sin and light to represent Christianity and enlightened civilization. He doesn't exactly make a direct reference to the Judeo-Christian god, or church in criticism of Christianity or as an evangelistical approach, but rather, focuses on the evilness of humanity, the lack of morality. It could be that the lack of strictly biblical allusions is to emphasize the lack of morality. Marlow sees darkness everywhere, from the scenary to the natives themselves, whom are the prime examples of 'evil'. In "Heart of Darkness", Marlow sees darkness everywhere he turns; whether the edge of a colossal jungle, so dark-green as to be almost black (Conrad 77), or as a dark figure obscured the lighted doorway (Conrad 98), it is an menacing (Conrad 150), beastly, beastly dark (Conrad148) that sucks him into the gloomy circle of some Inferno (Conrad 81), and brings us to a world of ,"lucking death, to the hidden evil, to the profound darkness of its heart (Conrad 294), a heart of humanity I would garner. However, not only are the natives 'sinfully dark' compared to the whites, but the whites themselves are sinful in nature as well, as seen from the very fear that drove most to madness, this fear shared by Marlow, "It was unearthly, and the men were-No, they were not inhuman. Well, you know, that was the worst of it-this suspicion of their not being inhuman. It would come slowly to one. They howled and leaped, and spun, and made horrid faces; but what thrilled you was just the thought of their humanity-like yours-the thought of your remote kinship with this wild and passionate uproar (Conrad 297)." and their lacking of compassion and morality.
The lack of human decency is a prevalent theme in Heart of Darkness, where once a native is beaten, and the brickmaker of Central station remarks upon that,"What a row the brute makes Serves him right. Transgression-punishment-bang Pitiless, pitiless. That's the only way. That will prevent all conflagration for the future (Conrad 288-289)." This goes against Christian view of human nature, in which we all sin, but we are to be forgiven by god, not punished. This just shows that you don't need to be a card carrying church going religious zealot to be a fully indoctrinated member of a judeo-christian culture with all its values and more importantly, assumptions. Another prime example of moral darkness would be the Eldorado Exploring Expedition, whose motives are likened to evil, "To tear treasure out of the bowels of the land was their desire, with no more moral purpose at the back of it than there is in burglars breaking into a safe (Conrad 292-293).
At this point, we may think to ourselves- but what of the selfless people, can we truly call them evil? Yes, because Isaiah 64:6 says that " But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away." In "Heart of Darkness", Kurtz had once been a selfless man, wanting to go to Africa for a pure purpose as derived from his painting of the woman in an Enlightenment fashion, " a woman, draped and blindfolded, carrying a lighted torch (Conrad 288)" and is even described by his peers to be an "emissary of pity, and science, and progress (Conrad 288)." However, it was the darkness of Africa that had lured the inner, inherent evil desires within him, as seen from "The wilderness had patted him on the head, and, behold, it was like a ball-an ivory ball; it had caressed him, and -lo -he had withered; it had taken him, loved him, embraced him, got into his veins, consumed his flesh, and sealed his soul to its own by the inconceivable ceremonies of some devilish initiation (Conrad 307)" and " many powers of darkness claimed him for their own (Conrad 307)".
Marlow stated after the death of Kurtz, that he had "felt an intolerable weight oppressing my breast, the smell of the damp earth, the unseen presence of victorious corruption, the darkness of an impenetrable night (Conrad 318)", and yet included that "it was something to have atleast a choice of nightmares (Conrad 318)". This choice of nightmares illustrates the point that even a sympathetic character like Marlow, who had noted the deplorable conditions and abused human rights of the natives, would choose choices that went against his morals. No good-intentioned person goes unscathed with inherent sinfulness. He chose to be with Kurtz, the very man who fell to darkness of his heart.
In Things Fall Apart, Christianity is seen as a powerful force of negative influence over Okonkwo's village. It tore apart the structural world of tradition and culture that Okonkwo was used to and about to control with the churches and the evangelists, as seen in Okonkwo's despair, "He saw himself and his fathers crowding round their ancestral shrine waiting in vain for worship and sacrifice and finding nothing but the ashes of bygone days, and his children the while praying to the white man's god (Achebe 153)". Okonkwo not only lost his fellow villagers, but his own son to this force. Nwoye, Okonkwo's son, had turned toward the Christian faith as a refuge from the questionable practices of his Ibo village, in turn, spreading anger and confusion amongst the people of the community. The double significance in which Nwoye's defection to Christianity creates, acts as a catalyst for the structural destruction of Ibo culture as it slowly becomes molded into a society set up by white men, as said ,"The white man is very clever. He came quietly and peaceably with his religion. We were amused at his foolishness and allowed him to stay. Now he has won our brothers , and our clan can no longer act like one. He has put a knife on the things that held us together and we have fallen apart. (Achebe 176)".
This shows me that human nature is so weak- we rely on estimation of the spirit. Here, I see that humanity is flawed. In Things Fall Apart, you would expect to be torn between two sides, and label one side as evil and the other side as good. However, I think that humanity, no matter which side, as a whole is evil in the fact that it is flawed. In Things Fall Apart, the main character, Okonkwo, is prone to violence and hatred. He is a murderer and would do anything to allay his fear of becoming weak- be it his abuse of his family, or a killing of an innocent boy. Although I am sympathetic to his devastation at the loss of his pride, family, culture, and village, he is just an example to me of the evilness of humanity. Also, because of his refusal to believe in 'the white man's god', according to the religion, he is evil in that his sins are not forgivened because he refuses to have faith. For "The only way to be saved and to get into heaven and avoid being sent to eternal hell is by believing that Jesus, who is God, died for our sins on the cross and rose from the dead (1 Corinthians 15:1-4)", something that I find to be linear to my beliefs.
The part in Things Fall Apart that deepened my belief that humanity is evil was when the white evangelist, Mr. Brown, and Akkune were debating over which god was the real one. However, it was Mr. Smith's ""He saw the world as a battle field in which the children of light were locked in mortal conflict with the sons of darkness (Achebe 184)." that made me believe his belief contradicted that of the Christian understanding of human nature. While he made it out to be that humans are sinful- he also said that heaven was only restricted to saints- not to people of diminutive faith and sinners.
I feel that even within the text of Things Fall Apart, there is a pointed sign of evilness in humanity. The people are always overcome by fear, whether it be fear from the night, women's fear of men, or fear from becoming weak like Okonkwo. It seemed that this was most evident in the scene where Okonkwo's wife goes after her kidnapped child, "but at that very moment Chielo's voice rose again in her possessed chanting, and Ekwefi recoiled, because there was no humanity in there (Achebe 106)".
In So Long A Letter, Mariama Bâ introduces to Ramatoulaye Fall, who is beginning a letter to her lifelong friend Aissatou Bâ. The occasion for writing is Ramatoulaye's recent widowhood. As she gives her friend the details of her husband's death, she sets off on a journey of remembering the major events in her and Aissatou's lives. Ramatoulaye evokes happy memories of when the two were students who were impatient to change the world, and of the hope inspired by the independence of Senegal from France. While her step-family comes to take over the affairs of the deceased, Ramatoulaye sadly remembers the day when her husband, Modou, took another younger wife, Binetou, ruining 30 years of life together and of love. This betrayal becomes one of the central plot points and is the main area of confrontation between Ramatoulaye and her husband. Beyond this theme lies the issue of male domination and how it affects women in Africa and the social construction of culture which to the characters is not really justifiable.
On the other side lies her friend Aissatou who has had similar experiences of treachery in her marriage to Mawdo. She rises up above her position and proves that as a woman she can do things that were least expected of her. Aissatou and her friend Ramatoulaye therefore share experiences that are similar yet they react to them differently. The writer therefore leaves it for us to decide who is right in their actions and who is not.
Of course, the story is rife with un-Christian themes, and the situation of the narrator merely shows me the evilness of human nature. I can only ask myself how could a couple that had a strong bond of love immediately fall apart from sins of lust, greed? From what I've read of the bible, "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?" ( Jeremiah 17:9). Here, the prime example of human depravity is Modou, who succumbs to his lust and commits adultery, leaving his first wife and family behind. He and the men in Ramatoulaye's village only heightens my belief of evilness in humanity.According to Jeremiah 17:10, "I the LORD search the heart, I try the reins, even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings.
Without the Lord controlling the heart there is nothing that man will not do.
That is why God sent his Son so that we can trust in God to change us to live the way God created man to live life."
Even the goodness of Ramatoulaye isn't enough to save her from being sinless. I admire her ability to forgive her cheating scum of a husband, but I find that she agrees with the Christian understanding of human nature. She knows that she loves her husband, and would forgive him. She doesn't complain (only to Aissatou), and has her own quiet, reserved strength, as seen when she fought off her suitors. Even a person born into a positive environment but who disregards that blessing and persists in bad thoughts and deeds will inevitably fall into wickedness, which she doesn't, and for which misleads me into think that she is good.
Good, however, is defined differently by the Bible and by the Christian God. Good is perfect. Giving away things and doing favors here and there doesn't make a person good in God's eyes. Rather, good is perfect. That person has never committed a transgression in their lives. This would include the transgressions humans tend to overlook. The small things. Lying, for example. Lust, for example. Bad thoughts, for example. But we humans tend to disregard these minor offenses and say, But, otherwise, that guy's a good person. But God doesn't think so. In the eyes of God, good is perfect. And, if good is perfect, it would logically follow that every human on Earth, not being perfect and being guilty of at least minor offenses, is not good.
It is the condition of women where I find that men in this novel, do not agree with the Christian understanding of human nature. When Christian find evil in us, but we strive to better ourselves through our findings and understanding through prayers and effort to change ourselves spiritually and mentally. However, the men in the novel only abuse their women and find no wrong in this. Any guilt they have is erased by the excuse of their religion allowing
them to have polygamy and treating their wives anyway they like to.
Of all the texts that we've read/viewed in class, I thought that the film, Hotel Rwanda, was the most effective in exploring human depravity. Paul Rusesabagina, the main character, not only struggled with his humanity, when he questioned whether to just save his family from the Tutsis or save other people too. After seeing the corruption in government, the mass genocide of a tribe, it only confirmed my belief in an evil humanity.For this, I think the film answered the question,"is humanity inherently evil?" Yes. It is. In the context of the Scriptures, But Jesus, on His part, was not entrusting Himself to them, for He knew all men,and because He did not need any one to bear witness concerning man, for He Himself knew what was in man. John 2:24-25, and what was in man was evilness.
In conclusion, the four texts have proved my case that humanity is inherently evil. Although there were cases that there are 'good' people, such as Ramatoulaye, there are mainly good-INTENTIONED people who are still inherently evil, such as Okonkwo, Marlow, and especially Kurtz. Kurtz was a classic example of a good soul gone bad. Kurtz could have been anyone, and anyone could have had done good deeds, but still commit transgressions. Because of this, nobody is perfect, thus, humanity is born evil because of our sinful nature.