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People’s Nature

            Are people essentially good or bad? This question is both tricky and interesting to answer. If it were a philosopher answering the question, he/she would probably start by defining the words ‘good’ and ‘bad’ from a philosophical perspective. From a dictionary’s definition, good is defined as anything approved of, desired or morally upright. On the contrary, the word bad id defined as anything defective, inferior or of poor quality. With these definitions in mind, although it is does make it easy, one can discuss whether people are good or bad. In my opinion, people are shaped by their environment, which can make them good or bad.

From my experiences, people are like wet mud. They are molded by the potter, which in this case, is the environment. There was a time I was working in an office as an office assistant. The office manager was described by most people as a ‘monster’. He was only interested in getting the results and never cared how you got them. He never listened to excuses no matter how genuine they were. He would scold, shout and even belittle those who had trouble reaching the targets. When he entered a room, the mood of the room would suddenly change. Those talking would stop, the laughter would cease, and people would change their facial expressions. The worst days of the week were the days that he would spend more than an hour in his office. The best days, no matter the circumstances, were the days he was not in his office. He would also ignore an employee if they met outside the office. The labor turnover was unusually high simply because of him.

One day I happened to see him in another environment different from the working one. He was with his family. I stood watching him for a couple of minutes because I could not believe my eyes. He was extremely jovial and different. He played with his children, smiled at the people passing by and even made a few jokes. He also helped an old woman cross the road as he took his children to his car. From the perspective of stranger walking by, he/she would refer to my boss as a good man.

From these two scenarios, it would be hard to describe my boss as a good or bad person. If we say that he is bad, the acts outside the working environment contradict this statement. Similarly, if we say that he is good, his behavior in the office contradicts this statement. After all, no clear rule exists demarcating a clear difference between the people and environments one is to be good to and which ones not to. In summary, we can state that my boss’ behavior is shaped by the environment he is in.

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