Skip to main content

Is man inherently good or evil?

By Will Cain, CNN Contributor
updated 3:47 PM EDT, Wed April 17, 2013
Aaron Tang says he witnessed the first of the Boston Marathon bombings through a window from his office, about half a block from the finish line. "(There was a) big blast of fire, and smoke, but it all vanished so fast and (there's) not much left to see minus lots of shattered glass," he wrote on <a href='http://www.flickr.com/photos/hahatango/sets/72157633252445135/with/8654232934/' target='_blank'>Flickr</a>. The following images are what he saw on Monday, April 15. <a href='http://www.cnn.com/SPECIALS/us/boston-bombings-galleries/index.html'>See all photography related to the Boston bombings.</a> Aaron Tang says he witnessed the first of the Boston Marathon bombings through a window from his office, about half a block from the finish line. "(There was a) big blast of fire, and smoke, but it all vanished so fast and (there's) not much left to see minus lots of shattered glass," he wrote on Flickr. The following images are what he saw on Monday, April 15. See all photography related to the Boston bombings.
HIDE CAPTION
A view from above: The first explosion
A view from above: The first explosion
A view from above: The first explosion
A view from above: The first explosion
A view from above: The first explosion
A view from above: The first explosion
A view from above: The first explosion
A view from above: The first explosion
A view from above: The first explosion
A view from above: The first explosion
A view from above: The first explosion
A view from above: The first explosion
A view from above: The first explosion
A view from above: The first explosion
A view from above: The first explosion
A view from above: The first explosion
A view from above: The first explosion
A view from above: The first explosion
A view from above: The first explosion
A view from above: The first explosion
A view from above: The first explosion
A view from above: The first explosion
<<
<
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
18
19
20
21
22
>
>>
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Will Cain: The Boston Marathon bombings make us wonder about the nature of man
  • He says such events, or rather those responsible, don't define us

Editor's note: Will Cain is an analyst for The Blaze and a CNN contributor.

(CNN) -- Three dead bodies, 20 to 30 missing limbs, and more than 180 injured can force us to revisit that age-old question: What is the state of man's nature? Is he inherently good or evil? The Boston Marathon bombings have presented us with the dilemma of Locke versus Hobbes again.

Pictures like this tempt us to adopt Hobbes' pessimistic view of man.

A victim of the first explosion is helped on the sidewalk of Boylston Street in Boston on Monday.
A victim of the first explosion is helped on the sidewalk of Boylston Street in Boston on Monday.

But it's wrong. Events such as this, or rather men responsible for events such as this, don't define us. Actor Patton Oswalt, in a Facebook post that I'm sure has virally made it to your screen, put it perfectly:

"If it's one person or a HUNDRED people, that number is not even a fraction of a fraction of a fraction of a percent of the population on this planet."

And: "The vast majority stands against that darkness and, like white blood cells attacking a virus, they dilute and weaken and eventually wash away the evil doers and, more importantly, the damage they wreak. This is beyond religion or creed or nation. We would not be here if humanity were inherently evil. We'd have eaten ourselves alive long ago."

And more: "So when you spot violence, or bigotry, or intolerance, or fear, or just garden-variety misogyny, hatred or ignorance, just look it in the eye and think, 'The good outnumber you, and we always will.' "

Exactly. At least, that's what I think.

What about you? Which is it? Is man inherently good or evil? It's an admittedly oversimplified question. But how you answer it dictates what you do next.

Man in cowboy hat helps injured

Carlos Arredondo, Jeff Bauman define us

Carlos Arredondo is being hailed as a cowboy-hatted hero. He is. With the bomb blasts still ringing in his ears, Arredondo dove into the carnage and began to help victims. He is extraordinary. I think he says more about us than whoever dropped a pressure cooker at the marathon on Monday.

It's Jeff Bauman, though, whom I keep thinking about. Bauman is the man who was standing on Boylston Street watching his girlfriend run the Boston Marathon. Bauman is the man who in one moment was standing with youthful invincibility and two legs. And in the next moment, he was lying without legs.

He's the man Arredondo stayed with until he was in an ambulance. There's something about these two men, this moment that defines us.

Yes, it's Arredondo's heroism. But it's also Bauman's gaze. He's literally three-quarters the person he was minutes before. And yet he almost calmly looks forward.

Follow us on Twitter @CNNOpinion.

Join us on Facebook/CNNOpinion.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Will Cain.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 9:57 PM EDT, Thu September 18, 2014
Ruben Navarrette says spanking is an acceptable form of disciplining a child, as long as you follow the rules.
updated 9:58 PM EDT, Thu September 18, 2014
Steven Holmes says spanking, a practice that is ingrained in our culture, accomplishes nothing positive and causes harm.
updated 2:31 PM EDT, Thu September 18, 2014
Sally Kohn says America tried "Cowboy Adventurism" as a foreign policy strategy; it failed. So why try it again?
updated 10:27 AM EDT, Thu September 18, 2014
Van Jones says the video of John Crawford III, who was shot by a police officer in Walmart, should be released.
updated 10:48 AM EDT, Thu September 18, 2014
NASA will need to embrace new entrants and promote a lot more competition in future, argues Newt Gingrich.
updated 7:15 PM EDT, Tue September 16, 2014
If U.S. wants to see real change in Iraq and Syria, it will have to empower moderate forces, says Fouad Siniora.
updated 8:34 PM EDT, Wed September 17, 2014
Mark O'Mara says there are basic rules to follow when interacting with law enforcement: respect their authority.
updated 9:05 AM EDT, Tue September 16, 2014
LZ Granderson says Congress has rebuked the NFL on domestic violence issue, but why not a federal judge?
updated 7:49 AM EDT, Tue September 16, 2014
Mel Robbins says the only person you can legally hit in the United States is a child. That's wrong.
updated 1:23 PM EDT, Mon September 15, 2014
Eric Liu says seeing many friends fight so hard for same-sex marriage rights made him appreciate marriage.
updated 4:55 PM EDT, Fri September 12, 2014
David Wheeler wonders: If Scotland votes to secede, can America take its place and rejoin England?
updated 4:36 PM EDT, Fri September 12, 2014
World-famous physicist Stephen Hawking recently said the world as we know it could be obliterated instantaneously. Meg Urry says fear not.
updated 1:21 PM EDT, Thu September 11, 2014
Sally Kohn says bombing ISIS will worsen instability in Iraq and strengthen radical ideology in terrorist groups.
updated 9:27 AM EDT, Thu September 11, 2014
Artist Prune Nourry's project reinterprets the terracotta warriors in an exhibition about gender preference in China.
updated 9:36 AM EDT, Wed September 10, 2014
The Apple Watch is on its way. Jeff Yang asks: Are we ready to embrace wearables technology at last?
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT