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In my 9th grade English class we were preparing for a class-wide debate on whether or not, by nature, mankind was good or bad. This debate was organized by my English teacher, Miss Cook. We had about a week to prepare beforehand and we were given several articles to read to come up with our own stances on the subject. Then we would hold the debate in class. There wouldn't be any definite winner of the debate, but it was still something that was going to happen. 
I started off on the side that mankind was bad by nature because, to me, it made the most sense. I am a very cynical person, and I tend to see more of the bad aspects of things. After doing some more research, I wasn't surprised when most scientific studies and what not, and even several other things such as law schools, said that mankind is bad by nature, especially throughout history. So when the debate was actually under way, several people argued that mankind was good by nature and several other people argued that mankind was bad by nature. The class was about evenly split, and we even split in two different sides based on where we stood. I stood more in the center after a while because about half way through the debate I realized that maybe I had everything backwards and that maybe I was thinking about this the wrong way. After everybody made their case, it occurred to me that maybe mankind is neutral by nature, but we're drawn to what we believe to be good or bad and we rationalize this by saying that the things that we are drawn to must be good because why else would we be drawn to them? 
After the debate was over, I wanted to share my discovery with the world. I talked to several people, and they seemed to agree with me. I even checked back throughout history and it made sense: even mankind's most malicious acts were still motivated by the belief that they could carry some good. For instance, the Aztecs sacrificed people to the Sun in their own backwards belief that it would keep the Sun from dying. This was considered a very barbaric practice; however, when the Spaniards came along, they decided to put an end to it. So, the Spaniards could easily be considered the heroes in this case, but not so much in _how_ they put an end to it. They enslaved the Aztecs and forcefully converted them to Christianity. The Spaniards could actually be considered just as bad, if not worse. In a similar situation, people have different stances on if a child that was raised in a household where religion was more forced upon them as opposed to adjusted upon them, they might grow up with resentment towards religion. In addition, these different opinions lead to different stances on different topics which ultimately ends up leading people to divide themselves into unnecessary factions. Once I realized all of this, I was able to develop my own sense of morality.

© Alexander Doherty. All rights reserved. If you are interested in quoting this story, contact the national team through this website and we can put you in touch with the young person's teacher.