Human Nature is....well...Human Nature
Over the course of what feels like an increasingly longish lifespan, one lesson I’ve learned is the people generally show all their colors no matter what context they are operating in.
I’ve worked in a couple of places that purported to be (and described themselves) as “faith based.” Maybe I’m a little late to the realization party here (and slow to pick up on the (metaphorical) aroma of the coffee) but I can assure you that all the plusses and minuses of human characteristics can be found there just as they are to be found anywhere else.
A few decades back I came to the conclusion that I should make an earnest and intentional effort to understand human behaviors and their motivations as clearly as I could, unadorned by any optimism bias. (I think this came from growing up in a somewhat sheltered family context that had more than a degree of naïveté.)
So why was I drawn to Hoffman’s book (pictured above)? He goes back to the days of the Cold War to the time when this country had people on the ground in the Soviet Union trying to understand as completely as possible what the other side was up to. The Soviets (of course) had their KGB folks there as well doing all they could to stymie this country’s efforts. One can learn quite a bit by watching smart, calculating people doing all they possibly could to outwit one another. Extremely stressful work and the full range of human behavioral expression on display. (Also, you’ll recall, Mr. Putin spent his formative years working for said KGB, which helps explain his approach to matters these days.)
I once talked with a young father who limited his youngsters’ television viewing to reruns of The Waltons. I certainly could understand his thinking and respect his very good intentions. And perhaps, given their early ages, that was a helpful way to go. Ultimately, however, people in adulthood need to have an understanding of the world as it is. Not as one wishes it to be. We have seen what happens when a broad swath of the population has a big miss on what folks are capable of doing in order to get what they want.