The Nature of Man

It’s almost always sunny in Philadelphia, but this Saturday afternoon was overcast with a cool, comfortable breeze.  Garret and Joseph walked down Poplar Street toward 2nd.

“What’s this place?” Joseph asked.  He pointed to a series of outdoor, tent covered tables and a food cart.

“Don’t know, looks like that old late night hot dog stand.”

“Let’s check it out, I’m hungry.”

They discovered La Copine Brunch Cart, ordered breakfast sandwiches and flatbread, and sat along a wooden fence.

“How can you argue with me about this?  I have thousands of years of evidence on my side,” Garret insisted, stubborn as usual.

“But there’s one key point you seem to overlook.”

“What point?  In all of recorded history you have war.  The fall of Babylon, the Greek and Roman Empires, the Crusades, etcetera etcetera.  India versus Pakistan, Iran versus Iraq . . . terrorism!  The IRA, the ETA, al qaeda . . . the list goes on and on.  How can you argue?”

“I don’t have to argue.”

“Of course you don’t, and you shouldn’t because it’s pointless.  The nature of man is evil.  We’re a bellicose species.”

Near their table, a little girl perhaps two years old ran in circles, laughing aloud, chasing after nothing at all as her parents ate brunch and laughed too.

Joseph nodded in their direction, indicating to Garret that he should notice the little girl if he hadn’t already.  “You think she’s got an evil nature, Garret?”

“The kid?  No.”

“Right.  Not sure how we get into all these wars or become terrorists, but people aren't just born evil.  Look at a child and you know.  Circumstances affect us and choices are made, but there's nothing absolute about our nature.”

Garret didn’t respond, he just took another bite of his sausage, egg, and cheese sandwich, a silent concession.


  1. The piece is a little flimsier than your previous stories since it's just an excuse for this argument and only hits the superficial talking points: that people have done bad things, but don't always do bad things and aren't necessarily evil as kids. What caught me is your apparent conclusion that we fail on our own, but that failure is not in our nature. I'm uncertain exactly what you mean by it. It might be a good topic for a proper essay, or as something you could unpack in another piece fiction on the blog.

  2. Karen, thanks for the comment, hope you enjoyed the read.

    John, clearly you're right that although the title of the piece is "The Nature of Man," the snippet of conversation herein only just touches on the topic. Maybe I'll write a follow up story, thanks for the suggestion.

  3. Richard, I much admire anyone who can convey so much with (nearly) dialogue alone. Well done!

  4. Chris, thanks for the support, I appreciate it.

    Deanna, thanks for the positive feedback, please stop by any time. I look forward to reading your #fridayflash this weekend.

  5. You just know these two guys won't really leave the argument at that, They both seem to have right, and wrong in their viewpoints. :)

  6. I enjoyed reading this post,. Why haven't I discovered you before? ^__^

    It may have only been a snippet of a conversation, but it touched on something much deeper. This could even be a never ending arugment.

  7. I enjoyed this story and thought you did a good job with the dialogue. The ending, to me, had a bit of paradox to it, but I think that was the point. Nice job.

  8. I don't agree with them since the kid could quite easily grow up to become "evil". It's the old nature vs nurture argument. You could definitely explore this in a longer piece.

  9. Steve, you're probably right, they'll probably continue this discussion.

    Helen, thanks for the comment. I'm really glad you found my blog and enjoyed the story!

    Chuck, thanks for mentioning the ending and for the praise, I appreciate it.

    Icy, you're right, the kid has her whole life ahead of her.