How human are you?
Once again I’m writing something I’m certain few will read and even fewer will regard. But I’m putting these thoughts out here anyway in the hope that they speak to someone’s heart.
So let me get straight to it. How human are you?
I know what you’re thinking: This is going to be really deep and philosophic, even. But stick with me. I’m going to touch on this for just a moment before I get to the real point of this writing. When this is done, I’m hoping you’ll be able to answer that question above.
But let’s move on to a different question for now. What does it mean to be human? What really sets us apart from the other animals? I posed this question to the all-knowing Internet and got a lot of the same thing. The consensus is that, as humans, we are able to control our urges and instincts. Other animals can’t do this. (If you disagree, we can discuss that at a later time. But go with me on this for right now.) One person elaborated on this, saying, “Other animals react instinctively to certain stimuli. They run from loud noises and bite when cornered. They eat when they’re hungry, sleep when they’re tired, and mate when they feel like mating. Humans behave differently because of our ability to think rationally. We predict the outcomes of our actions several steps ahead (well, most of us do) and control ourselves accordingly. We don’t jump every available mate who walks by (well, most of us don’t) and we eat and sleep for the most part when it’s socially acceptable and strategically advantageous to do so.”
If this is true, then we are certainly above the other animals where Darwin listed us and where God put us. After all, we have complete control over our urges and instincts. Our passions do not make us lose control over our rational thought. . .right?
Wrong! Studies have shown that when sexual activity begins between two individuals, there is a chemical reaction that occurs in each body involved. It blocks the person’s ability to rationalize and reason. This is why people often feel remorse after cheating on a spouse or having a one-night stand. There is a point prior to beginning the act when a person can rationalize, but it’s easy to ignore. Our animal instincts are strong.
Further, do you recall in the movie, “A Christmas Story,” how Ralphie beat up on the bully? Something switched off his rational thought and plunged him into an uncontrolled attack on his aggressor. This happens with school children around the world. As we get older, we begin to recognize when we might lose control and actively pursue one of two paths: attack or back down. The latter is more “human,” while the former is certainly animalistic.
So I would say that we are only capable of being human. We are constantly met with the choice to act human or to act like an animal. Our regular decision the choose human behavior over our base, animal instincts is what truly makes us human. Take a minute to soak that in.
Now I come to the meat of my blog.
There are a lot of terrible things that go on in this world. Most of the time we don’t hear about them. Much of the time we turn a deaf ear or a blind eye to the evils around us because the truth of them is, more often then not, too hard to bear. Occasionally, however, we open our hearts and allow them to hurt because of what we see. This is what happened to me.
I was perusing through my Facebook feed when my eye caught an article posted by a blog I frequent. The writer was discussing something that took place recently in Argentina. There was a video made to memorialize it. He touched on the fact that the content of this video was not an anomaly but a regular occurrence in the world. He said something poignantly intuitive: “The reality is that the progressives are never satisfied. They are driven by irrational rage. . .if they are radical progressives their sweet, smiling reasonableness will be replace[d] with violent, stomach churning rage.”
This doesn’t mean that there’s anything wrong with progression – that we can’t fight to better our world and create better lives for ourselves or to change people’s minds about social stigmas and other things we feel are deeply important. That’s not what the writer was inferring. He was touching on the passion felt and acted upon by the progressives “protesting” in the video. (Take a moment to remember and even review, if necessary, what I said earlier about passion.)
Why do you think the most effective protests are peaceful? Why do you think Gandhi promoted the lie-down versus the blatant attack? Why do you think Dr. Martin Luther King promoted peaceful demonstrations over aggressive behavior? Do you think it was to protect the demonstrators? That could have been part of it. I believe it was because these men were humans – they were capable of controlling their urges and instincts. They wanted to ensure that all involved remained human because nothing is as effective as rational behavior. Look at the outcome of what they promoted!
Now look at this:
(Watching this video is imperative to understanding the rest of what I have to say, so please watch it now.)
Now, I don’t care how you feel about Catholics. I don’t care how you feel about abortion. I don’t care what your opinion is about women’s rights or homosexuality. I don’t care. None of that is the point here. But I’ll tell you what I do care about. . .and I hope to God that you care about the same thing. It’s something I’ve echoed in my other writings and it’s something I feel deeply about. I care about how we treat each other. How we feel about each other is moot. It doesn’t matter. What matters is how we treat each other. I cannot say that enough.
When I watched this video, I sobbed. I sobbed because I am one of those rare individuals who is capable of deep empathy. I saw the strength, the faith, and the hurt on those men’s faces and I was suddenly reminded of the martyrs of Christianity’s past and the horrible opposition they met to further their cause. I sobbed because I saw the hate and the violent animal in those [mostly] women who were the aggressors. I sobbed because, as they danced around the statue of the pope (a recognized symbol and proponent of love and charity in the world), they reminded me of baboons and gorillas after a kill had been made – they were nothing but animals! I sobbed for their souls. I wondered how many of them would feel remorse – how many of them were actually proud of what they’d done. . .and how many of them would do it again. It scared the hell out of me and it hurt me deeply. It reminds us all that we are literally moments away from that kind of behavior at all times.
It is not our passions or our cause that puts us a step above the apes. Rather, it is our willingness to control those feelings and even to sacrifice them for the betterment of others. Certainly some things are worth dying for, but they are never worth losing one’s humanity.
So I’ll ask you again, how human are you?
How human are you?
All my love,
a tiny voice