In our culture, many battles are fought on the question of nature. The word “nature” comes from the Latin natus, which means “birth.” Thus, nature is what we are intrinsically born with, what we are born to be. Church teaching and traditional philosophy insist that things have a nature. That is, they are endowed with certain fundamental traits that make them what they are.
As such, nature is something to discover and study. We go out to reality, study it, and obey its demands. Things (including people) have a nature, a purpose; we do well to respect that nature or we will suffer the consequences. God may forgive, but nature does not.
Yet in increasing ways, many people today deny that things have a nature. They argue that most of what has traditionally been called the nature of things is simply a human construct. And if we have constructed something, then we can tear it down; we can “deconstruct” it. As we all know, there is a lot of tearing down going on regarding the meaning of sexuality, gender, marriage, family, and so forth.
In terms of our human nature, there are some legitimate questions as to its interaction with roles. Traditionally, men assumed roles that were dangerous or physically strenuous. For example, many considered it unbecoming for a woman to be a firefighter, soldier, or iron worker. More recently, there has been greater acceptance of women undertaking such roles. These are roles, however, not nature per se. Masculinity and femininity provide a natural delineation. While roles can vary, we are not free to wholly cast aside the fact that there are two sexes, male and female. These are not mere constructs, they are inscribed in our nature, in our very bodies.
As most of you know, I like to keep my Saturday posts light, often featuring a video. In that spirit, I do not intend to go into a deep discourse about the deconstructionism of our times. Instead, I will simply offer an interesting video on airport construction! You may wonder what this has to do with nature, human or otherwise. To answer simply, it shows that those who design airports study human nature very carefully.
We humans behave in certain predictable ways because we share a common nature. Airports are designed to bank on our predictable behaviors. This underscores that nature is not a merely human construct that can change on a whim, but a stable and consistent reality that is common even across individual human variations. The fact is, we behave within a predictable range; those who have a financial interest in how we behave study human nature extensively. They cannot “afford” to entertain deconstructionist theories, which hold that our nature is a mere human construct. No indeed. To those involved in the marketplace, reality is very important; the deconstructionist view doesn’t help the bottom line.
Watch the entire video if you have the time. If not, even the first few minutes should get the point across.