Who Goes There: Friend or Foe?

This is hard to write about and talk about, but I think the issue of “are you human beings good or bad?” masks a deeper issue, namely, do we expect the people we meet in the world to help us or hurt us. This is I think why it is hard to persuade people. If someone thinks we are actually out to hurt her, then why would she believe our reassurances, or care about our censure? She will view it as a trick to hurt her and those she cares about.
I wonder what sort of experiences cause people to view others as more likely to be potential friends or potential victimizers.
Everyone has to have had some sort of attachment so survive at all, because we are born helpless. Someone cared for us whether it is our parents or the institution that raised us. But as we get older we may learn about their limitations. Maybe they didn’t care for us as well as they should have. Maybe they abused or exploited or victimized us. Maybe our parents actually were our enemies.
Everyone has to have some trust in themselves, even at the most limited level to feed them and take them from moment to moment. but some of us have disappointed ourselves terribly. Some of us have been our own enemies.
Some people have been lucky enough to meet strangers who have later become friends. Even intimate friends — lovers — or business partners, or employers. Some of these relationships have ended up helping us, others have turned sour or ended in betrayal.
Given these experiences of help and hurt we then say different things when we answer the question “are people good?” Some of us mean — yes, our parents were good, but nobody has been since then. Others mean, no, nobody is good and we mean only we ourselves are to be trusted. Some say — yes, everybody is good — and we mean that we think we can find friendship in many strangers.
I think these different experiences can play out in the political positions we all “liberal” and “conservative” in our country right now in different ways.
Maybe some people were disappointed in their parents but found friendship and view this as a sign of progress.
Maybe some people trusted their parents but were betrayed by others, and have decided that people like their parents are the only people to trust.
Maybe some people do not trust themselves and search for safety in a leader or an idea.
I wonder how it all comes together. I find it painful to write about though. What do you think?


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