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 12:26 PM EDT, Wed August 27, 2014
The death of Douglas McAuthur McCain, the first American killed fighting for ISIS, highlights the pull of Syria's war for Western jihadists, writes Peter Bergen.
updated 6:42 PM EDT, Tue August 26, 2014
Former ambassador to Syria Robert Ford says the West should be helping moderates in the Syrian armed opposition end the al-Assad regime and form a government to focus on driving ISIS out
updated 9:21 AM EDT, Wed August 27, 2014
Ruben Navarrette says a great country does not deport thousands of vulnerable, unaccompanied minors who fled in fear for their lives
updated 9:19 AM EDT, Wed August 27, 2014
Robert McIntyre says Congress is the culprit for letting Burger King pay lower taxes after merging with Tim Hortons.
updated 7:35 PM EDT, Tue August 26, 2014
Wesley Clark says the U.S. can offer support to its Islamic friends in the region most threatened by ISIS, but it can't fight their war
updated 7:26 AM EDT, Wed August 27, 2014
Jeff Yang says the tech sector's diversity numbers are embarrassing and the big players need to do more.
updated 4:53 PM EDT, Tue August 26, 2014
America's painful struggle with racism has often brought great satisfaction to the country's rivals, critics, and foes. The killing of Michael Brown and its tumultuous aftermath has been a bonanza.
updated 4:19 PM EDT, Tue August 26, 2014
Ed Bark says in this Emmy year, broadcasters CBS, ABC and PBS can all say they matched or exceeded HBO. These days that's no small feat
updated 3:19 PM EDT, Tue August 26, 2014
Rick Martin says the death of Robin Williams brought back memories of his own battle facing down depression as a young man
updated 11:58 AM EDT, Tue August 26, 2014
David Perry asks: What's the best way for police officers to handle people with psychiatric disabilities?
updated 3:50 PM EDT, Mon August 25, 2014
Julian Zelizer says it's not crazy to think Mitt Romney would be able to end up at the top of the GOP ticket in 2016
updated 4:52 PM EDT, Mon August 25, 2014
Roxanne Jones and her girlfriends would cheer from the sidelines for the boys playing Little League. But they really wanted to play. Now Mo'ne Davis shows the world that girls really can throw.
updated 12:29 PM EDT, Mon August 25, 2014
Peter Bergen and Emily Schneider say a YouTube video apparently posted by ISIS seems to show that the group has a surveillance drone, highlighting a new reality: Terrorist groups have technology once only used by states
updated 5:04 PM EDT, Mon August 25, 2014
Kimberly Norwood is a black mom who lives in an affluent neighborhood not far from Ferguson, but she has the same fears for her children as people in that troubled town do
updated 5:45 PM EDT, Fri August 22, 2014
It apparently has worked for France, say Peter Bergen and Emily Schneider, but carries uncomfortable risks. When it comes to kidnappings, nations face grim options.
updated 1:27 PM EDT, Tue August 26, 2014
John Bare says the Ice Bucket Challenge signals a new kind of activism and peer-to-peer fund-raising.
updated 8:31 AM EDT, Fri August 22, 2014
James Dawes says calling ISIS evil over and over again could very well make it harder to stop them.
updated 9:05 PM EDT, Sat August 23, 2014
As the inquiry into the shooting of Michael Brown continues, critics question the prosecutor's impartiality.
updated 6:47 PM EDT, Fri August 22, 2014
Newt Gingrich says it's troubling that a vicious group like ISIS can recruit so many young men from Britain.
updated 10:50 AM EDT, Thu August 21, 2014
David Weinberger says Twitter and other social networks have been vested with a responsibility, and a trust, they did not ask for.
updated 7:03 AM EDT, Fri August 22, 2014
John Inazu says the slogan "We are Ferguson" is meant to express empathy and solidarity. It's not true: Not all of us live in those circumstances. But we all made them.
updated 8:23 AM EDT, Fri August 22, 2014
Retired Lt. Gen. Mark Hertling says he learned that the territory ISIS wants to control is amazingly complex.
updated 3:51 PM EDT, Wed August 20, 2014
Cerue Garlo says Liberia is desperate for help amid a Ebola outbreak that has touched every aspect of life.
updated 1:42 PM EDT, Thu August 21, 2014
Eric Liu says Republicans who want to restrict voting may win now, but the party will suffer in the long term.
updated 11:38 AM EDT, Thu August 21, 2014
Jay Parini: Jesus, Pope and now researchers agree: Wealth decreases our ability to sympathize with the poor.
updated 8:00 AM EDT, Thu August 21, 2014
Judy Melinek offers a medical examiner's perspective on what happens when police kill people like Michael Brown.
updated 6:03 PM EDT, Tue August 19, 2014
It used to be billy clubs, fire hoses and snarling German shepherds. Now it's armored personnel carriers and flash-bang grenades, writes Kara Dansky.
updated 1:27 PM EDT, Wed August 20, 2014
Maria Haberfeld: People who are unfamiliar with police work can reasonably ask, why was an unarmed man shot so many times, and why was deadly force used at all?
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT