It all depends on your definition of "good", and that changes every year, in every country and every community. It also depends, as you say, on your definition of "moral" and how much this is influenced by what your religious and other authority figures appear to tell you.
You could take prison populations as a guide. That would make the US the most, or one of the most, immoral countries in the world, especially California. It would also make the Scandinavian countries the most moral (as well as the most godless).
Then there is the problem of perspective and the underlying assumptions about the nature of humans.
Kohlberg's scale assumes that everyone is innately potentially good, except for sociopaths, autistics, psychotics and those with damaged frontal lobes. For him, the key to being "good" is appropriate education and experience together with brain development and innate potential.
OTOH, religionists of the Muslim and Christian variety see everyone as inescapably bad. The implications are not nearly so attractive as the more scientifically valid positive approach of Kohlberg, et al. In this schema humans are helpless unless rescued by the supernatural. As we know, this makes no statistically significant discernable difference in the positive direction. For every person who claims, or is claimed, to have changed for the better there is another whose moral behaviour appears to have been damaged by the faith.
It's unfortunately true that morals and ethics change with the wind... I ponder to say that you will get as many answers to this question as there are different ideas of unethical and immoral thoughts or acts. Say you were to ask a group (or a member of) like the National Alliance or the KKK a question relating to the mixing of races... is the said act immoral? Of course it's not, but then that's my rational response.
Myself, I believe that there is a "universal truth" to the code of ethics and morals for the human race, it's just that seeds have been planted throughout time that have "divided" societies around the world, and we tend to adopt the path of least resistance as individuals, because of our need to fit, or our lack of courage to refute what we know to be wrong, the fear of alienating ourselves, (or our fear of loosing those close to us... namely fathers, grand-fathers, brothers, sons, ect...) The fact of life is that we complete eachother.
This is a great question... My answer is, if we look on the surface, BAD. Though if you look deeper, GOOD. Conclusion, our minds are cluttered in delusionment. Who to thank...?
I hear you all on the subjectivity of "good" and "bad." It is really impossible.
My girlfriend tends to see people as basically id oriented... with a pretty veneer. I tend to be a pretty pessimistic person regarding my views of humanity as well.
It made me feel good that the Kohlberg link showed most people as being basically moral (by those measurements). It doesn't really mean anything objectively, but it did mean something to me personally.
The question I posed was not so much about objective good and evil, as I don't believe there is such a thing. The question was meant to address your personal perceptions about the human animal. Are humans weighted towards expressing what we typically think of as the lower, animal self (greed, selfishness, aggression, dishonesty) or are humans more likely to express what is typically considered the higher self (honesty, generosity, love)
My personal perception is that humans are weighted toward the higher self. I believe that if all of one's needs are tended to and met (beginning at birth), a person will mature into a balanced, responsible, productive adult. I realize it's an idealistic vision, and I'm fully aware that parents can't be perfect all of the time...so I'll settle for each and every child to be validated, and their needs at least recognized. Even if the responsible adults in a child's life are unable to meet all of his needs at all times, validation of his worth as a human being is critical for good mental health. I think that at their core, humans desire happiness, but become disabled by the vast number of influences in their lives, especially during their developmental years. They come out on the other end full of false beliefs about themselves and the world, which is the greatest inhibitor of growth and healing. Changing your belief system, whether it's about god, religion, family history, personal limitations and self-worth, world history, etc, is hard enough in itself, but the REAL difficulty lies in getting people to see that their belief system is faulty in the first place!
That said, I'm not encouraged by what I see out there. Nor do I anticipate things getting much better anytime soon. People are drifting farther and farther away from the genuine...and imo are largely incapable of recognizing and validating others because of their own dysfunction. I think we can thank Christianity for a LOT of this. I just read a post by a Christian yesterday, blaming the liberals/non-Christians for the increase in crime, teen pregnancy, divorce, and all things bad. On the contrary, I believe the opposite to be true... I think there's a long term detrimental effect to a society when a large number of its members believe humans are inherently bad, or evil. Think of the huge number of children that were raised being told (and therefore believing) that they're bad at their core, and were taught to expect the worse from themselves and other people. Talk about a ripple effect!! I think the only hope for our society is the rise of atheism, and the re-introduction of reason in our culture.
the REAL difficulty lies in getting people to see that their belief system is faulty in the first place
True enough! The difference between what "feels" true and what can be proven true are oceans apart. People invest so much ego in their beliefs that even the suggestion that the beliefs might be invalid feels like a personal attack.
I think most human are "bad" ( of the "selfish" variety, with some superficial "good" face (frequently in the form of arrogant "charity").
The high social value given to concepts like "family", "country" and other expression of MINE or US, are proof of it. We are good to ours and to ourselves only.
I also largely attribute this (your observations) to christian influence. The bible teaches that the first social institution created by god was the family, and definitely promotes a "He who is not for us, is against us" mentality. Are a christian's acts of "goodwill" ever completely genuine? Or are they performed out of obligation, fear, or the desire for personal recognition (because of the lack of personal validity inherent in the faith)? I see christianity as a narcissistic entity, with the inevitable result that very little AUTHENTIC good can come from it (in other words, the "good" that comes is a result/side-effect of a christian's motivation for self-preservation... whether it's an obligation to obedience, or the fear of eternal damnation). It's the same way a child reacts to the overuse of punishments and rewards...they soon become so obsessed with gaining the reward and avoiding the punishment, that they lose all intrinsic motivation to do good. While it's shameful behavior, it's important to recognize this as a direct result of one's conditioning, and not a reflection of their true, unadulterated nature. To me, the greatest irony of all is that the very people who are exalting themselves because of their self-proclaimed holiness are the ones administering the poison that is destroying our culture. It's a "big picture" kinda thing.