Burt Prelutsky / Feb. 7, 2014

People Aren’t All That Good

There are those who believe that in their natural state, people are kind, generous and good-natured. I, however, don’t believe they are any of those things. Unless they are raised by parents with decent values and taught at a very early age that evil actions have dire consequences, people will grow up to be savages. I still recall an experiment in a college psych class some years ago. In test after test, three students seated behind mirrored glass were told that they were free to administer electric shocks to other students in a lab, and that nobody would be able to tell which of them was responsible. Well, no surprise to me, those holding the controls kept turning the knobs, believing they were delivering shock after shock. It was only later that they learned that their “victims” were being alerted by a noise and, so, in spite of their feigned spasms and grimaces, weren’t actually being tortured.

There are those who believe that in their natural state, people are kind, generous and good-natured. I, however, don’t believe they are any of those things. Unless they are raised by parents with decent values and taught at a very early age that evil actions have dire consequences, people will grow up to be savages.

I still recall an experiment in a college psych class some years ago. In test after test, three students seated behind mirrored glass were told that they were free to administer electric shocks to other students in a lab, and that nobody would be able to tell which of them was responsible. Well, no surprise to me, those holding the controls kept turning the knobs, believing they were delivering shock after shock. It was only later that they learned that their “victims” were being alerted by a noise and, so, in spite of their feigned spasms and grimaces, weren’t actually being tortured.

In other words, so long as they were anonymous and didn’t risk being punished, the college kids were as happy as a pack of frolicking otters, behaving like youthful versions of the Marquis de Sade.

Another illustration of human savagery can be found in the novel, “Lord of the Flies,” where a group of adolescents abandoned on an island quickly turn into beasts. Similar examples are found on a regular basis when those being inducted into college fraternities are forced to undergo cruel and often violent forms of hazing. The newcomers put up with it because they realize that the following year, as sophomores, it will be their chance to torment others.

As I often state, I am not a religious person. I make that point so that it is understood that when I defend religion, I am not being self-serving. I just know that I personally prefer those who believe in God to those who believe they are God. I’m also convinced that those who are truly religious would not have been delivering the electrical shocks to their classmates. In the same way, I believe that the only nations – aside from those under the demonic control of Islamists – that would have murdered people by the tens of millions are those that have banished God, such as Nazi Germany, China and the Soviet Union.

A recent study showed that in spite of our spending a king’s ransom on education, our students ranked in the middle among those in the 34 industrial nations when it came to reading (14th place), science (17th) and math (25th). When I heard that study being discussed on a radio talk show, a caller suggested that part of the reason that countries such as South Korea, Canada, New Zealand, Australia, Japan and Finland, all ranked near the top was because they have homogeneous populations. That made sense to me, but not to the host who pooh-poohed the notion on grounds I could only interpret as being politically correct.

For my part, in spite of the money we spend, I’m frankly surprised that the U.S. ranks as high as it does. Between black students, only about half of whom even bother graduating from high school, and an enormous Hispanic population that combines language problems with a similar disinterest in education, I think it’s a miracle we rank higher than Mexico, which came in dead last in all three categories.

Although the presidential race is still three years off, the battle zones are already being drawn up. GOP candidates are already spending so much time in Iowa, you’d think they had moved to Des Moines, and Hillary, who we’re being told hasn’t decided to run, has raised over four million dollars for her campaign. Frankly, I much preferred the old way of doing things, when a few political bosses would enter a smoke-filled room and emerge with the name of the candidate.

Now that we pander to such silly events as the Iowa caucus and the New Hampshire primary, indulge in months of worthless debates and more blood-letting than you’re likely to see at a slaughterhouse, the GOP invariably starts out in a very deep hole. I guarantee that the skirmishes between Rand Paul, Marco Rubio, Chris Christie, Rick Santorum and whatever other egotist decides that he and he alone can save America, will hurt our chances in 2016 far more than Hillary Clinton will.

Instead of John Kerry wasting so much time in the Middle East trying to broker a two state solution between Israel and the vile Palestinians, it’s here in America we need a two state solution that could finally bring an end to the constant warfare between conservatives and liberals.

Finally, I find it shocking that abortion continues to be a major issue in America. In spite of decades of sex education classes and a plethora of birth control pills and devices, a million dummies a year are still resorting to abortions.

Down in Texas, a female legislator is basing her run for the governor’s mansion on the fact that she delivered a filibuster in opposition to a bill banning abortions after the 20th week. Frankly, I consider all these arbitrary deadlines to be signs of a depraved society. What if the period of human gestation was only a week instead of nine months? Would the knuckleheads be arguing that an abortion could take place up until 8 a.m. on Wednesday, but not a minute later? And isn’t it rather like saying murder is legal until the end of April, but a capital crime after the 1st of May?

The abortion advocates use very odd yardsticks. They seriously argue that abortion is okay if the baby couldn’t survive on its own outside the womb. But which of us can survive on our own? I don’t personally know anyone who can grow his own crops, drill for his own water, build his own house and barn, erect his own bridges, pave his own roads, guard against marauders and also remove his own appendix.

Or, on occasion, they will argue that an abortion is perfectly legitimate because an embryo doesn’t have intelligence or even a discernible personality. Well, neither, I contend, does Harry Reid.

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