How can we become “decent” Human beings?

Zsolt Hermann
2 min readMay 29, 2023

Question from the Internet:

“How can I assure myself that being a decent human being matters, when there have been times, especially during wars, where bad people were allowed to get away with crimes?”

We are “simple” beings. All our calculations and actions are driven by a basic “pleasure/pain” principle, always movinf towards better and more intense pleasures for ourselves, while moving away from any actual or feared pain and suffering for ourselves.

All our “moral and ethical” considerations are false and illusory. Nothing else matters in life, except serving our own insatiable desires for pleasures, soothing our constant fear for ourselves and to maximalize our inherently 100% self-serving and self-justifying operating software.

”Being a decent human being” is also according to the same calculations. “Decent” means a certain thing for one and it means completely different to another. And while in simple and peaceful times it is easy to make ourselves and others believe that we are all “good, loving and decent” human beings, in times of crisis, when our life is at stake and we have to make split second decisions for our own survival or for the survival of our loved ones, all “goodness and decency” goes out of the window.

For some people, they do not need wars or such critical situations to justify acting openly selfish, manipulative and exploitative. They have greater hunger and a greater willingness to sacrifice others and themselves to get what they want. Their inherent egosim, self-justification and self-service is greater than others’. These people usually make it to the top of the human pyramid in society, controlling, manipulating and exploiting others.

But we are all driven by the same inherent nature. And in the right conditions, through different pressures, we can all become ruthless exploiters and tormenters of others – as the imfamous “Stanford Prison Experiment” showed, for example.

If we truly want to become “decent Human beings”, first of all, we would need to learn what that is and how it is different from the “not so decent humans” we are born to. And then, when we have already recognized, accepted and started to dislike our own inherent nature, then we can start a purposeful and conscious process of self-change and self-development. Most importantly, we cannot judge and correct others, since we can’t even see and judge others objectively, since we see and feel everything through our inherently egocentric, subjective and individualistic filters.

Thus we all need to recognize our own qualities, the drivers and true intentions making us do everything we do. And when we feel and know that we have to change ourselves in order to become “decent Human beings”, then we can start changing ourselves. The only way we can affect and inspire others is through our own positive example.

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Zsolt Hermann

I am a Hungarian-born Orthopedic surgeon presently living in New Zealand, with a profound interest in how mutually integrated living systems work.