THE OLDEST DUALISM
There is an idea, common in contemporary Buddhist circles, that unless we believe in fundamental human goodness all is lost. I used to think so myself long ago. It seemed to be a good way of opposing some other notions current in our culture. As time has passed I have given the idea up as too vulnerable to the very things that it purports to oppose.
Exaggeration is a human talent. To write any kind of diatribe one has to set something up as a target and over state one's case and this can be a valuable exercise so long as one stays open to the resulting under current, but few do.
Let's take the case of supposed fundamental goodness. Presumably this is goodness as opposed to badness and one can then put into these two posited-as-fundamental categories everything that one has a yen for or against. This is the stuff of liberal versus conservative tendencies, each trained to abhor what the other believes essential to civilised life.
This whole notion seems to me to be a fallacy. Humans are not fundamentally good or bad, they just are what they are. If one really did have to set up such an opposition, in a certain philosophical sense, the negative view would have to prevail, because we do inevitably consume. We are destroyers and no matter how much good we were to do it could never compensate. This is close to the original idea of karma. The early Zen principle that good deeds are those that incur no retribution is a reflection of this idea. Presumably the original version of original sin was based on similar considerations, but the original original sin is different from the popular idea of it which is not much more than a windmill to tilt at. So we are stuck with the fact that we live in a world so constructed that one cannot continue to live without being party to destruction. Is the cat bad for mousing? And what of man?