One possible answer began to emerge after a Dutch woman consulted her doctor about whether to have kids. Her family had a history of violence, including rape and attempted murder. Would her children be violent too, she asked? Her doctor consulted geneticist Hans Brunner, who discovered that the family carried a defective gene: it made too much of an enzyme, called monoamine oxidase A, resulting in excessive destruction of neurotransmitters that help keep us calm and happy.
The finding thrilled some scientists--here, finally, was an explanation for criminality--and appalled others, who feared that if genes dictate behavior, it could lead to genetic typecasting of entire races...The implication, says Terrie Moffitt, a professor of psychology at Wisconsin: "Genes influence people's susceptibility or resistance to environmental 'pathogens.'" Someone with a low genetic propensity will have to be pushed very hard to become violent; another individual with a different genetic makeup might have a hair trigger.
-Lemonick, Michael D. "Children and Violence: The Search for a Murder Gene." Time, Jan 20, 2003, http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1004083-1,00.html
I want to discuss the possibility of free choice vs fate. In our society, we are becoming more and more "excuse" based.
It is natural when you find yourself in a guilty situation to make excuses. It is natural for us to deflect blame onto someone else, or something else. We blame our religion, our government, our parents. Anything but ourselves.
Studies for centuries have shown tendencies. We've mastered the art of conditioning and brainwashing. We've manipulated our young into positive OR negative people.
Yet I believe that there is still, in all these circumstances, no excuse for damaging and destructive behavior. Who cares if you have tendencies towards violence. Does that suddenly make you not responsible for your actions? Do the laws of human altruism become obsolete?
Mankind has progressed on the foundations of overcoming animalistic tendencies. We can think beyond fight and flight, reproduction, the need to feed. Because we can think beyond our base instincts we can create an environment of long term sustainability.
The line must be drawn somewhere. And I choose this line. I choose ultimate responsibility for our actions regardless of circumstance. Sure, the nazi soldiers of germany were practically forced into their condition by Hitler's regime, but what they did was still wrong.
Care to debate?