What is human nature?

The problem of keeping our dark side in check.
  • Transcript


Stephen Breyer: I saw a very interesting film. It was on a French television program. It was showing some people come up from . . . they had been nomads in the south part of the desert in western Africa. And there was a fishing season, and they arrived in trucks. And thousands of them went out and they were catching these fish, and pretty soon there were no fish left. That was the point of the film. And the real point of the film is, well, there aren’t going to be any fish left. But the message was, what are they supposed to do? What are they supposed to do? There isn’t work for them where they started. They have to eat, and so they come up and they take the fish. Well this is a huge problem. And we know that on the one hand, we’ve gotta keep the fish. And we also have to find work for these people. And so that’s the kind of problem that’s caused tremendous environmental problems; tremendous population problems; tremendous problems, of course, of keeping the what I call the fanatical, dark element of human nature under control. And it only takes a few or it’s out of control to do tremendous damage. But we have terrific instruments of cooperation . . . the Internet being one, our educational institutions. Our economy is good. We have this economic need. So forces of . . . points of light and possibilities of darkness.

Recorded on: 7/5/07