**Disclaimer: Philosophizing takes place below this warning**
“Gradually it was disclosed to me that the line separating good and evil passes not through states, nor between classes, nor political parties either- but right through every human heart- and through all humans hearts.”- Alexander Solzhenitsyn
Humanity has long told itself that its nature is good and the philosophies that periodically proliferate are a testament to this. John Locke based his philosophy upon this notion, and by extension, Jefferson’s Declaration of Independence drew from this idea. The Enlightenment thinkers based their views on human nature through the lenses of progress and the societal evolution of humanity. Humans can work their way into a better society, through logic and reason. While some of their principles do apply in certain instances, it does not pertain to the character of human beings. Although the Constitution provides a phenomenal structure for our nation, it grants extreme limitation of power. The Founders might have had positive views pertaining to man’s character but the dynamic nature of the Constitution was created in such a fashion that it limited the chances for corruption and abuses.
Wickedness within societal structure will always remain within the body. Since man is a political animal, as Aristotle noted, every person comes to the table with ambition, for better or for worse. It is by the restrictive nature of “separation of powers” that the nature of man is limited. Power, of which politics is primarily concerned, is a dangerous item. Lord Acton speaks to this powerfully when he said, “power corrupts but absolute power corrupts absolutely.” Military dictators and persuasive orators might be beneficial in certain aspects of societal growth, but power concentrated in a few hands tends to pervert the reformer, no matter how principled. People of great character like George Washington comes around rarely. Washington’s ambition and dreams of being an American Cincinnatus were rooted within his character. The rare exception to the rule does not and should not counter the general rule and axiom of Lord Acton.
Is mankind’s situation as dire as Hobbes’ philosophy of life being “nasty, broodish and short”? In short, no. Men also have a disposition to perform incredible good. Admittedly, it is a paradox. Humanity is neither good nor are we 100% rotten to the core. Rays of hope glisten throughout the mired soul of man. Out of the Holocaust arises tales of heroism. Out of the the Rwandan genocide stories of courage dot the landscape of despair. Human beings can be wicked beyond compare or just and kind to their fellow man. It is a paradox that is shown throughout history. The propensity of evil is great within men and women, but goodness can occur. Glimpses of what could have been can appear. Solzhenitsyn was correct when he stated that the dividing wall of good and evil runs its course through the hearts of men and women. Hopefully that dividing line allows more room for the good side to flourish.