Op-Ed: I Believe People Are Naturally Good, Except My Roommate, Sean


Last year, reading Rousseau in CC left me convinced that, as Rousseau argues, man is born naturally good, and that man is only evil because society corrupts him. I’m willing to go toe-to-toe with any proponent of Christianity’s pessimistic view of man. Man is not “born in sin,” and he is not “fallen from Grace.”  

Who among us who have borne witness to the purity of a newborn, or felt the warm kindness of a complete stranger, can contend that man comes into this world evil? No, my view of man’s nature is entirely optimistic. That being said, I should make one point clear: Sean is a dick, always will be, and always has been.

Society makes people bad, but more like, cheat-on-your-spouse bad – not Sean-level bad. Last week, he texted me ten minutes before the Calculus homework was due asking if he could look at mine, just to “check over his answers.” Nice try, Sean. I’m not falling for that again. Frankly, I struggle to see how even the most ardent social constructionist could blame society for producing such an insufferable mouth breather, one who seems to have no qualms about using my goddamn toothpaste even though Duane Reade is three blocks down and he could easily walk there himself.

If it’s true that nurture and not nature is to blame for producing Sean, then that nurturing must have started in the womb. The only reasonable scenario I can image that would make nurture the culprit is if Sean was grown in a test tube in some lab, sustained entirely through a feeding tube that only took in a blend of two parts Natty Light, one part Creatine powder. If that’s the case, shame on those scientists! And shame on Sean, for not wiping off the toilet seat even though everyone in the suite knows he’s the one who got piss all over it.   

Until someone shows me that crackpot team of scientists, I’m sticking to my guns. Sean just does not, cannot fit into my views on human nature. He’s not just an exception; he’s the exception. I pity his parents, who must feel like they’re at fault, even though it’s really the case that Sean was just born with a natural propensity for clipping his nails into the breeze, paying no mind to the fact that that weird little nail on his pinky toe is being launched like a projectile right from his chair to my fucking bed.

Sean’s poor parents. I can picture it now. Sean’s mom is getting ready for bed, and has wrapped her newborn tight in a blanket. She’s rocking him back and forth, and he starts to mutter. She listens in.

“Ma ma ma ma.”

Oh, the time has come! Sean is about to say his first word! His mom wants to reach for the iPhone camera, but knows she doesn’t have time. Oh! It’s all been random syllables up to now, but this time it’s going to be a word, a real word! They lock eyes, and he stares at her in the way only babies do, she at him in the way only mothers do. There’s a brief pause, then his lips part.  

“Eh eh eh… anyone got a light?”

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