Ten Reasons Why Humans Are Our Own Worst Enemy

Ron McIntyre
5 min readMay 6, 2024

I have had many discussions with colleagues regarding this subject and am surprised how many have become defensive. There is an unwillingness in many areas to accept that we have caused any harm anywhere in the world. Decided to examine my attitudes and thoughts on the subject.

Human beings possess remarkable capabilities for innovation, creativity, and compassion, but they also exhibit tendencies that can be self-destructive. Despite significant achievements, humans often create problems that jeopardize their well-being.

This paradoxical behavior stems from unchecked ambition, short-term thinking, and conflicting interests. Environmental degradation, social conflicts, and psychological challenges exemplify situations where humans become their worst enemies.

Understanding these self-inflicted issues makes us feel more informed and engaged, which is crucial for finding solutions and creating a sustainable future.

  1. Self-Destructive Behavior: Humans often engage in behaviors that are harmful to themselves, like smoking, overeating, or drug abuse. Our inexhaustible desire to be Superman drives us to push the physical envelope into uncharted areas daily. While this is a necessary function, too often, confidence puts people in danger because they begin to feel invincible, which is very dangerous.
  2. Environmental Damage: Our collective actions have led to environmental degradation, pollution, and climate change, affecting survival. This issue is driven by profits, greed, and convenience rather than common sense. Oil companies have known about the damage of pollutants from petroleum-based products since 1959, yet they continually claim they are not at fault. The average citizen doesn’t want to believe it because it may cause them to change their way of life.
  3. Conflict and War: While humans have a long history of conflict, which has led to wars that cause immense suffering and destruction, everyone plays a crucial role in contributing to peace and understanding. By recognizing our responsibility, we can feel motivated to act and make a difference. However, wars are about power, money, territory, culture, and domination, none of which positively impact society. The money to send 300 missiles at a target has to come at the expense of other human services. The countless dead collateral damage and soldiers inflicting them is a waste of human lives unless you view it as a method of population control.
  4. Short-term Thinking: We often prioritize immediate gratification or short-term gains over long-term well-being, which leads to negative consequences. Wars have been started based on short-term thinking, businesses have imploded due to short-term thinking, and families have been split, suffering emotional and financial impacts, all due to short-term thinking. Some of this is intentional, and others are due to ignorance, so it is still a human factor issue.
  5. Ignorance and Denial: Sometimes, we ignore or deny problems, such as climate change, which prevents us from taking necessary action. Ignorance is the lack of knowledge or awareness about something, while denial is the refusal to accept the truth or reality of a situation, often despite evidence. The critical factor here is that they are both choices made by individuals. While valid, they frequently stem from tremendous misinformation and disinformation being submitted on all media platforms. This is a correctable issue when people are willing to spend time validating what they see and read.
  6. Resource Depletion: Our excessive consumption depletes natural resources faster than they can be replenished, jeopardizing future generations. I refer to this as the fad and crave syndrome. Something becomes a fad, then expands geometrically, and people crave it intensely. There have been hundreds of items in this category, including food, electricity, fuel, and entertainment, to name a few. Often, people will fight to fulfill their cravings even though they can see the negative impact coming.
  7. Health Mismanagement: Despite advancements in medicine, poor lifestyle choices and unequal access to healthcare lead to not dealing with preventable diseases and health crises. As I have become older, I have made a few bad choices along the way, yet, God willing, I will make it to 77 in a week. But my attitude has always been to listen to what my body tells me regarding rest, stress, exertion, and the need for periodic reboots to level the mind and emotions.
  8. Social Inequality: Our societal structures often perpetuate inequality and injustice, leading to widespread poverty and social unrest. In some circles, people incorrectly feel we are doing well in this area. Still, I can tell you growing up in Tennessee and witnessing the effects of Jim Crow laws, the isolation of native Americans, and the mistreatment of immigrants that, we still have a long way to go.
  9. Technological Misuse: While technology has many benefits, its misuse can lead to severe consequences such as privacy violations, cybercrime, and addiction, as we’ve seen with the rise of social media addiction and data breaches. Technology is a tool and is not inherently evil. However, how some choose to use it as a weapon or means of stealing from unsuspecting citizens is appalling. As Consumers, we have played a role in this problem because we demand simplicity, flexibility, and convenience in our tools, which all create loopholes for bad actors to play.
  10. Psychological Biases: We are often swayed by cognitive biases and irrational thinking, leading to poor decision-making and misunderstanding. We often make personal choices and then present them as excuses. So, what am I talking about:

Unconscious and subconscious biases are automatic and often unintentional mental shortcuts or preferences that affect our judgments and behavior. These biases stem from ingrained thinking patterns from family, culture, and experience and can influence how we interpret and interact with the world.

Unconscious Bias typically refers to biases we’re unaware of, which influence our decisions and actions. These biases develop from cultural and societal norms, personal experiences, and stereotypes and impact areas like hiring practices, interpersonal relationships, and everyday decision-making.

Subconscious Bias also refers to biases outside our conscious awareness. The terms “unconscious” and “subconscious” biases are often used interchangeably, though some distinguish subconscious biases as operating at a slightly more accessible mental level.

In summary, addressing all the issues above will involve a multi-pronged approach and require making some rather difficult choices along the way:

  1. Self-Reflection and Mindfulness: Cultivating self-awareness helps individuals recognize their destructive patterns and biases, enabling them to make more thoughtful decisions. This requires time, effort, and a willingness to be frank with yourself.
  2. Long-Term Planning: Focusing on sustainable goals and considering future implications helps counter short-term thinking. This involves developing strategies that balance immediate needs with long-term consequences.
  3. Education and Dialogue: Promoting education and open dialogue fosters understanding and reduces ignorance. Encouraging critical thinking helps people discern facts from misinformation.
  4. Equity and Inclusion: Tackling social inequality requires systemic changes, such as policy reforms and creating opportunities for marginalized groups. Inclusive practices foster diverse perspectives, enriching decision-making.
  5. Challenging Denial: Encouraging honesty and confronting uncomfortable truths can address denial. Support systems and therapy can help individuals and communities face complex realities.
  6. Addressing Biases: Recognizing and counteracting biases involves ongoing self-education, exposing oneself to diverse viewpoints, and implementing bias-reduction strategies in organizations and daily life.

By integrating these approaches, individuals and societies can create a more sustainable and harmonious future.



Ron McIntyre

Ron McIntyre is a Leadership Anthropologist, Author, and Consultant, who, in semi-retirement, is looking to help people who really want to make a difference.