How do we define “humanity”?
A quick search online gave me two definitions. The first, of course, is The Human Race. Us. Our entire species. The second definition reads: humanness, benevolence. The synonyms given in this second definition are listed as compassion, brotherly love, fraternity, fellow feeling, philanthropy, kindness, consideration, understanding, sympathy, tolerance.
The first definition is a physical one, explaining that we are living beings, different from others that occupy space on this planet such as monkeys or worms. The second definition has to do with that which is not physical. It refers to the inner being, to our emotional and spiritual aspirations. I use the word aspirations because of all that I have been seeing lately as I watch my nightly newscasts and surf the web. I see many examples of people who lack the essence of the second definition. I see many who appear to lack humanity.
We cannot change the fact that we are human beings; we can, however, exercise control over the level of our humanity. The first definition is etched in stone. The second is a matter of choice.
We began our experiments in society, we human beings, in caves. There is evidence to support this fact. We likely banded together for survival, and not just from other clusters of human beings. I imagine at one point the large, carnivorous predators on this planet outnumbered the humans.
As our social development progressed, we made our structures more complicated. Beginning in ancient times, there was a small upper class—the nobles, if you will, that held all the power and made all the rules; and then there were the serfs and the slaves—the workers who barely survived, but who knew their place and continued to work for the nobles because they didn’t know any better.
Serfs and slaves were drone-like, and completely expendable. The concept of that second definition of humanity had not yet been created. It had not yet been discovered or chosen.
Through the ages, we’ve changed and evolved in our societal structures, although it wasn’t a unified journey that was species-wide. In this day and age there exits several different forms of society on earth, running the gamut from uncontacted tribes, living as they have since the dawn of time, to democracies, where there are neither noble classes, or serfs by birth.
Just as during this process we came to know the depths of the negativity we humans could sink to, so we also discovered the heights of positivity to which we could rise. We learned to define that which was best in us, as our “humanity”.
Modern life is complicated, no question about that. Change is happening at an ever faster rate. The world around us seems unstable. There are wars and rumors of wars. There are those who hate with such fierce devotion, they would kill in cold blood all those they see who are not like them. We call those people terrorists, because they use their violence to breed terror in us.
Others use fear as their weapon of choice, to destroy not the body, but spirit. I’ll leave it to each reader to come up with a name for them.
There are many who believe the best way to combat this fear is to turn back the clock. They believe they can end the reality of terrorism by stopping the forward momentum of our social evolution. These people would like to go back to what they call the “good old days”. Those days in their minds were the days when people knew their place, when life was good, when the “right people” had the jobs in the mines and the sweat shops, giving them money and security.
I feel sorry for anyone who actually believes this. Thousands seem to support the concept of regression and they’re all convinced that not only can they make this happen, but that they’ll somehow come out on top when they do. They will no longer be powerless or insignificant or whatever it is they believe they are now. But you know what? It’s kind of a funny thing, really. All those people who are decrying modern society and wish to somehow create a tumble back in time? They will not, as they believe, suddenly become the elite, the nobles, the ones who will be, to borrow an English expression, in the catbird seats.
No, the ones who will be at the top will be that same 1% that we have at the top, financially speaking, now—because they already are. Those believers will be the serfs, the ones doing their overlord’s bidding—because they already are.
They will, in truth, have sacrificed their freedom and their humanity for a prison of ignorance.
Wednesday, August 3, 2016
How do we define “humanity”?