Why Society Is In So Much Pain
Words by Dr. Gabor Mate
What is it about this culture that makes so many of us unhappy, unkind to others, frustrated, alienated from ourselves?
There is one idea of human nature which is what this culture promotes. [It says] that human beings are by nature selfish, competitive, aggressive, out for personal gain.
Now, there is another view of human nature which is that there is no human nature, that it is just an empty slate which you can write anything you want. There is this idea of kids that you can program anything into them by behavioral programming so that basically we are empty, we are devoid of any internal nature so it is whatever we happen to learn.
There is a third view of human nature that we are actually wired in certain ways. We were wired for contact, for love, for connection, for generosity, for connection to the larger whole beyond the small ego. And then whatever conditions interfere with that is what creates the dysfunction.
From that point of view, if you have a society that promotes selfishness, that promotes competition, that promotes aggression, that promotes people feeling dissatisfied with what they have, that only says people are worth what they produce or what they own, or it is only matter that matters, it’s materialistic, “matter-ialistic.” So that our form whether you are pretty or handsome or toned or flabby defines who you are.
If there is a human nature that is quite contrary to that, then creating a society that goes against human nature is what creates the suffering. So I would say that what creates the suffering is we live in a completely unnatural society that actually tramples on what it means to be a human being, and that is the essence of suffering.