On the old “Are people essentially/born good or bad?” question, I avoid the good/bad problem by altering it to ask, “Are people born socially acceptable?” The answer is “No.”
People are not naturally considerate. Worse, they are often not even aware of the consequences of their actions, so even those who are considerate have a tendency to be oblivious douchebags. We need things like parenting, education, love, punishment, ethics, shame, etc. There are even people who received all those things and still transgress – look at Bernie Madoff, a billionaire who steals. I’m almost positive most people would revert to poo-flinging without society.
It’s hard to imagine this to be the case if you live in a developed nation, and we can’t really test it by performing the necessary experiment (which is even given the ominous name, “The Forbidden Experiment”). Suffice to say, one needs only look back through history at the things people do that are socially acceptable (or even expected) at one time, but are considered crude or barbaric now. Slavery, treating women like property, pederasty, genocide, cannibalism… those were our ancestors, some only a few generations removed.
It’s not that we’re bad, we’re just confused. We’re born wet, bloody and crying, full of needs and wants, and all we can do is scream. Independence cannot be expected of an individual until at least around 15, and some people are never able to take care of themselves. All we know is what we see, and the people who want to be seen are often clueless. Ignorance is almost forgivable.
Yet despite all the obstacles, skeptics abound among the young. Of course, once they are busied by work and no longer have time to waste thinking (not to mention all that fancy book learnin’ that gets beer'ed away), they tend to settle down into a comfortable routine of family values and fag hating.
No matter how educated we are now, there will always be an endless stream of new people to laugh at us when we’re old for what we did. It’s always a child who points out that the emperor has no clothes.