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 2:45 PM EDT, Thu April 17, 2014
Michael Bloomberg and Shannon Watts say Americans are ready for sensible gun laws, but politicians are cowed by the NRA. Everytown for Gun Safety will prove the NRA is not that powerful.
updated 9:28 AM EDT, Thu April 17, 2014
Ruben Navarrette says Steve Israel is right: Some Republicans encourage anti-Latino prejudice. But that kind of bias is not limited to the GOP.
updated 7:23 PM EDT, Wed April 16, 2014
Peggy Drexler counts the ways Phyllis Schlafly's argument that lower pay for women helps them nab a husband is ridiculous.
updated 12:42 PM EDT, Wed April 16, 2014
Rick McGahey says Rep. Paul Ryan is signaling his presidential ambitions by appealing to hard core Republican values
updated 11:39 AM EDT, Wed April 16, 2014
Paul Saffo says current Google Glasses are doomed to become eBay collectibles, but they are only the leading edge of a surge in wearable tech that will change our lives
updated 2:49 PM EDT, Tue April 15, 2014
Kathleen Blee says the KKK and white power or neo-Nazi groups give haters the purpose and urgency to use violence.
updated 7:56 AM EDT, Wed April 16, 2014
Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse and Rep. Henry Waxman say read deep, and you'll see the federal Keystone pipeline report spells out the pipeline is bad news
updated 7:53 AM EDT, Wed April 16, 2014
Frida Ghitis says President Obama needs to stop making empty threats against Russia and consider other options
updated 5:29 PM EDT, Tue April 15, 2014
Peter Bergen and David Sterman say the Kansas Jewish Center killings are part of a string of lethal violence in the U.S. that outstrips al Qaeda-influenced attacks. Why don't we pay more attention?
updated 12:41 PM EDT, Tue April 15, 2014
Danny Cevallos says families of the passengers on Malaysian Airlines Flight 370 need legal counsel
updated 11:23 AM EDT, Mon April 14, 2014
David Frum says Russia is on a rampage of mischief while Western leaders and Western alliances charged with keeping the peace hem and haw
updated 7:56 AM EDT, Mon April 14, 2014
Most adults make the mistakes of hitting the snooze button and of checking emails first thing in the morning, writes Mel Robbins
updated 1:54 PM EDT, Mon April 14, 2014
David Wheeler says as middle-class careers continue to disappear, we need a monthly cash payment to everyone
updated 7:55 AM EDT, Mon April 14, 2014
Democrats need to show more political spine when it comes to the issue of taxes.
updated 11:55 AM EDT, Mon April 14, 2014
Donna Brazile recalls the 50th Anniversary of the Civil Rights Act as four presidents honored the heroes of the movement and Lyndon Johnson, who signed the law
updated 9:17 AM EDT, Mon April 14, 2014
Elmer Smith remembers Chuck Stone, the legendary journalist from Philadelphia who was known as a thorn in the side of police and an advocate for the little guy
updated 2:56 PM EDT, Sun April 13, 2014
Al Franken says Comcast, the nation's largest cable provider, wants to acquire Time Warner Cable, the nation's second-largest cable provider. Should we be concerned?
updated 11:22 AM EDT, Fri April 11, 2014
Philip Cook and Kristin Goss says the Pennsylvania stabbing attack, which caused grave injury -- but not death, carries a lesson on guns for policymakers
updated 3:06 PM EDT, Fri April 11, 2014
Wikipedia lists 105 football movies, but all too many of them are forgettable, writes Mike Downey
updated 10:32 AM EDT, Fri April 11, 2014
John Sutter and hundreds of iReporters set out to run marathons after the bombings -- and learned a lot about the culture of running
updated 12:49 PM EDT, Fri April 11, 2014
Timothy Stanley says it was cowardly to withdraw the offer of an honorary degree to Ayaan Hirsi Ali. The university should have done its homework on her narrow views and not made the offer
updated 10:16 AM EDT, Fri April 11, 2014
Al Awlaki
Almost three years after his death in a 2011 CIA drone strike in Yemen, Anwar al-Awlaki continues to inspire violent jihadist extremists in the U.S, writes Peter Bergen
updated 9:21 PM EDT, Fri April 11, 2014
David Bianculli says Colbert is a smart, funny interviewer, but ditching his blowhard persona to take over the mainstream late-night role may cost him fans
updated 1:31 PM EDT, Thu April 10, 2014
Rep. Paul Ryan says the Republican budget places its trust in the people, not in Washington
updated 5:28 PM EDT, Thu April 10, 2014
Aaron David Miller says Obama isn't to blame for Kerry's lack of progress in resolving Mideast talks
updated 11:22 AM EDT, Mon April 14, 2014
David Weinberger says beyond focusing on the horrors of the attack a year ago, it's worth remembering the lessons it taught about strength, the dangers of idle speculation and Boston's solidarity
updated 12:32 PM EDT, Thu April 10, 2014
Katherine Newman says the motive for the school stabbing attack in Pennsylvania is not yet known, but research on such rampages turns up similarities in suspects and circumstances
updated 2:39 PM EDT, Wed April 9, 2014
Wendy Townsend says the Rattlesnake Roundup -- where thousands of pounds of snakes are killed and tormented -- is barbaric
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT