The morning of my 20th birthday, I woke up thinking: “Thank God, I survived my teenage years.” Finally! The lingering questions that had plagued me for the previous 10 years would somehow fade away, as hitting 20 would enable me to acquire the insight needed to become one of those fulfilled adults whose examples have shone throughout my life.
That birthday is some years behind me now, and I am still trying to figure things out, so much so that I started blogging: to start a conversation with others who are asking themselves the same questions, such as the nature of, well, human nature.
I became a Bahá’í because I realised, at a deeper level, that life was more than just living from year zero to year ninety or so, getting the best marks, accumulating awards and prizes, getting the best job, getting promotion after promotion and then a golden retirement. I realized that there is something more to life, and that a greater force was omnipresent in my life – i.e. God.
As I delved into them in search of an answer, I soon came to realise that, although the Bahá’í Writings are full of amazing insights on human nature, a big part of the work of a believer is to translate these Teachings into reality, and to discover what human nature is through action. Service is a great way of making a community a better place, but also, of getting in touch with who you really are.
But human nature being the complex thing it is, I also realised that conversations with others was a vital part of the process, as is listening to others’ opinions, something that is thankfully becoming so much easier with the internet.
I just finished watching, for the third time, David Brooks’ recent TED talk on The Social Animal, which in short is a reflection on what human nature is. The strong point of the talk is that David Brooks bases his observations on years of experience and reflection on the topic. Weaving all the ideas into a coherent whole, his talk makes you reflect both on what your nature as a human is, but also, what kind of life you would want to lead. This is a great talk to watch both on your own, and also with a group of close friends with whom you can then have a fantastic reflection about your conception of human nature.
To my friends: watch out. I am downloading this talk and will, someday soon, whip it out in the middle of a part. You have been warned.