Recently, in my Twitter feed, I saw an article headline reading that a man claimed that pedophilia was natural. Therefore, it should be made legal. I did not bother to click on it. So, it could quite possible fall under the category of “fake news.” However, even this headline alone brings up a topic we see over and over again. People claim we should consider an action to be ethical because a person was born a certain way. However, does this claim stand up to careful examination and application of logic?
First, what do we consider natural? Dictionary.com says that natural means, “existing in or caused by nature; not made or caused by humankind.” With that clarified, let us review a few things that happen without human intervention. One’s race is a natural bi-product of the genes involved in the creation of a baby. Physical, biological gender is another one. Lately, we have begun claiming that one’s sexual identity originates from biological, natural tendencies, and not social engineering. Yet, in that bucket, we must include some very negative things. Most deadly illnesses occur naturally. Many are born with severe birth defects. Natural disasters that wipe out cities take place without us starting them. Together, we stand against these issues. We consider them wrong and worth doing what we can to correct them.
However, let us narrow the focus of the conversation to human behavior. I pose the following question; If it could be proved that a behavior happens ‘naturally,’ should society simply accept it on that basis alone? I would argue that this approach would lead to chaos and disorder. Think about this for a few minutes. When a baby is born, he or she is born selfish. She screams when she wants food and cries if she wants to be held. The ‘terrible twos’ are so named because during this period, a child’s selfishness hits a new high. Parents.com says, “The most dreaded of the signs of the terrible twos is public tantrums. Two-year-olds have always had a terrible reputation for delaying tactics, pickiness, and downright defiance.”
Parents invest much time in teaching their children correct behavior that, to be frank, is not natural. Acting nice and considerate does not come naturally. Indeed, even as an adult, when someone cuts me off in traffic, I want to say and do some very mean things to that person. Society, and the law, would quickly condemn me if I followed through on half of those thoughts. No one had to teach me to feel anger in those types of situations; it comes quite naturally. I had to learn patience, peace and understanding.
This does not prove that all taught and unnatural behavior ranks higher on the list of ethics. However, I would point that we have built society on a notion of law and order that constantly asks us to behave in a way that goes against our nature. When one wishes to walk across the street, reading the sign and waiting for the signal flies against our impulses to simply begin walking as we please. Recently, a friend of mine suffered a tragedy of a family member caused by another person. His impulse was to exact vengeance personally, yet society’s rules demands he work through local law enforcement and judicial processes to address his concerns.
Just because someone has certain proclivities at birth, or early in life, does not justify the associated behaviors later on. How we, as a country, fell for this argument completely escapes me. So, with this said, how do we determine what is right, or wrong? Ah, that is a topic for another entry. Suffice to say, as we discuss issues as a nation, we really should drop this notion that simply because one can prove a certain behavior as ‘natural,’ does not, in any way, validate that behavior as ethical.