The Nature of Mankind
Eryn Smith, Division 2, 12th grade #ws17e-s3d2

To me, nature has several meanings. Nature can refer purely to the innate characteristics of the outside world, such as the grass growing on the ground, or the green ivy snaking up a tree. Sunshine upon the purple mountain meadows, rain beating down onto an emptied beach. Some think of nature as the seasons our Earth experiences on a never ending cycle, evolving from winter to spring, heating from spring to summer, cooling down to a state of autumn, and freezing back into a wintery lull. Nature alludes to the creatures abiding in their natural habitat, surviving in the only way they know how. But I believe the basis of nature is rooted in the human being itself.

I believe that the truest definition of nature is the the indescribable, unexplainable, wildness of the fundamental traits rooted inside one’s being. Human nature is the greatest mystery known to man. Medically speaking, the brain controls multiple facets of how our bodies function. Different sectors of the brain control different functions, on different levels, but scientists and doctors continued to be baffled in regards to how. We were created in such a way that our brains are layered so intricately with emotions, knowledge, capacity for growth, and individual differences caused by DNA that we can not even begin to understand. Physiologically, the human brain is incomprehensible in the most terrifyingly beautiful way. The mind can be a wonderful thing, able to understand and create and appreciate its’ surroundings. To know the words to say to lift someone up. Our minds have the capacity to love others, making differences in others’ lives. Yet at the same time, the very same human who used his mind to do great things, has it within his nature to do harm. Rooted deep inside every person is the capacity to turn sour. The brain has a tendency to overthink a situation and allow it to take over all reason. This is the base of human nature.
I find it fascinating how powerful our minds are and how quickly they make decisions. For example, the brain is an organ that only makes up about 2% of a person’s body weight and weighs at most 3 pounds. Yet this little organ contains roughly 86 billion neurons that are constantly working to pass along information to keep us alive. Even more amazingly, it can make conscious choices in any situation. Referred to as psychology, the study of this has become an major industry in modern day America because mental health awareness is continuously rising. People are realizing that mental health is something that must be maintained, not unlike physical health. I believe this is a wonderful thing, however, there are still Americans who chose to approach their issues in a different light. Instead of facing their problems face to face, they seek all of the wrong things in hopes to fulfill themselves and boost their moral. Seeking refuge from their own minds, an increasing amount of teenagers and adults alike are relying inappropriately upon substances such as alcohol and drugs (both prescription and illegal). Addiction has become a serious issue in our society. Speaking as one who has a loved one snared in an addiction, it does nothing for a person other than drown out his consciousness, silencing his mind and suffocating his nature. By intoxicating one’s mind to dull down one’s nature, the slow death of the 86 billion neurons that keep that person alive ensue and cannot be regained. To attempt to avoid or lose one’s nature is equivalent choosing to give up on the health of the physical body. And profoundly enough, it is within our power as human beings to choose positivity versus negativity, healthy versus unhealthy, the higher road versus the detrimental one when it comes to our nature.

Even as science tells us that genetics determine our personal tendencies in addition to our physical features, the classic debate “Nature vs. Nurture” challenges these ideals. Is a mind built solely by how DNA maps it out to be or by the sum of experiences that shape it? For example, is a person more likely to become an alcoholic if they had a parent who was one or if he surrounded himself with others living that lifestyle? I believe that the later is the answer, because we as humans are strong enough to chose against something that is wrong. Just because someone has a family history of an illness brought on by a certain choice does not condemn that person into making the same choice. On the flip side of that argument, there can be no denying that certain experiences shape the way we view the world. In 2005, my family lived in Louisiana off of the Gulf Coast. That year, Hurricane Katrina hit our country, taking the lives of many and impacting millions both in the heavily flooded area and across America. I was 5, so I did not understand fully the magnitude of what had happened at the time, but my parents have shared their experiences with me since then. Katrina flooded our home, destroying most of material possessions. Our family had to move away and start over. However, both of my parents agree that without experiencing that huge loss, they would not be who they are today. For this reason, I believe that while genetics influence who we are on the inside, DNA does not determine the whole of a person’s nature. Events happen that cause one’s personality to evolve. This is another fascinating characteristic of the mind, the ability to reevaluate one’s circumstances and adjust thought processes to accommodate new knowledge and learned wisdom.

The study of the mind is endlessly intriguing, for there is no way in which we can fully understand it. When I hear the word nature, I think of so many great and mighty things. The word brings to mind the splendor of creation and the mystery of the universe. Beings that puzzle even the sharpest of us. Yet the greatest of these, the most beautiful and mighty, the seemingly endless is the human mind itself. Limitless and always having the capacity within itself to increase, the nature of the intelligence of man will always awe me.
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