And, I wondered, how could I have spent decades thinking that I thought everything was always wrong at the same time that I thought I thought that people were basically good at heart? Which was it? I began to question what I actually thought and found that I do not think that people are basically good at heart; indeed, that view of human nature has both prompted and informed my writing for the last 40 years. I think that people, in circumstances of stress, can behave like swine, and that this, indeed, is not only a fit subject, but the only subject, of drama.It needs some qualification: people aren't all basically good at heart, but there's a fair amount of goodness at heart about (as well as 'lust, greed, envy, sloth' and the rest), otherwise there wouldn't be the getting from day to day that there is and the care, help, generosity, courage etc. All the same, Mamet nicely nails a standard utopian combination: the thinking that so much is, indeed has always been, wrong but that people are - essentially - good. (Via Laban.)
I'd observed that lust, greed, envy, sloth, and their pals are giving the world a good run for its money, but that nonetheless, people in general seem to get from day to day; and that we in the United States get from day to day under rather wonderful and privileged circumstances - that we are not and never have been the villains that some of the world and some of our citizens make us out to be, but that we are a confection of normal (greedy, lustful, duplicitous, corrupt, inspired - in short, human) individuals living under a spectacularly effective compact called the Constitution, and lucky to get it.