What Does Humanity Mean to You?


Being Human

THE OTHER DAY I saw a charity poster on the way into Dalgate with the words, “…help us serve humanity.”   It made me stop and ask, what is humanity, really? How do you measure humanity?  The classical definition of humanity is “human beings as a collective.” Human beings.  Easy enough, but briefly pause and reflect on what makes us human?  What separates us from the rest of the animal kingdom?  Yes, we are human and we have the basic needs of eating, sleeping, and living.  In the experience of living, it is so easy to get caught up in the day to day life, losing sight of the nature of our humanity…the existence of human beings as a collective, or trying to live for the “greater good.”  Are their boundaries of the greater good?  Does the greater good extend only to your community or village?  To your immediate or extended family?  Absolutely not.  The human condition extends farther than the borders of Jammu and Kashmir.  Humans all over the world, both in the east and west, are struggling every day, facing similar challenges in their lives.  The challenges of balancing work and family, the challenges of disease and health, the challenges of catching the ever elusive peace within themselves as well as outside of themselves. 

To experience humanity on the individual level, then let us look at the idea of being a humanitarian.  Despite his political and personal persuasions, a brilliant example of a classic humanitarian is the legendary Mahatma Ghandi. He employed non-violent principles and peaceful disobedience against his own government.  He was a lover of all religions, fought against the Hindu Caste system and launched many a campaign against century-old prejudices against Muslims, women and those deemed the “untouchables.”   He served selflessly, much like another famous humanitarian, Mother Theresa, to the betterment of society and others directly at the expense of his own needs, wants and desires.

Many people believe that do not have the sufficient means to serve or help others and that it takes money, time and energy of which we have none to spare.  Energy is free to give and it does not take a grand sum of money in your bank account to serve.  While it is a noble effort to serve the less fortunate monetarily, launching impressive relief for those in need, humanity can be as simple as stopping to see the light within everyone.  Pausing for a brief second to connect beyond an exchange of required social pleasantries.  We are all inherently selfish by nature.  We go from here to there, hurrying to and fro, heads down, with our own agendas at the forefront of our minds. We live in a land of constant stimulus and are imprisoned by the barrage of things competing for our attention.  The never-ending chatter from facebook, whatsapp, the 7pm news, bills, deadlines, and assignments….Regardless of age or gender, life is a constant go and we can’t seem to make time between the eating and frivolity to really connect with other humans. From beggars on the street to shopkeepers and business people, we are all the same.  Regardless of color or status, we all bleed red when we are cut and all cry salty tears.  Humanity is the collective.  We are all suffering in our own unique ways and at our core, are in desperate need for other humans to reach out and touch us, connect with us, deep on the inside. 

Love is the crowning grace of humanity, the holiest right of the soul, the golden link which binds us to duty and truth, the redeeming principle that chiefly reconciles the heart to life, and is prophetic of eternal good.

 – Petrarch

 So, back to my question above…on what makes us human and separates humans from the animal kingdom?  If eating and having fun are the only things we are born to do then we should keep one thing in mind; even animals can do such activity.  Our Creator made us humans and there has to be a reason behind it.  Only humans can understand the essence of humanity and its importance.  We can use our intelligence to program being human or charity into our schedule or we can go a step further explore humanity with our hearts. Humanitarian activities should never be performed in order to achieve fame or to gain a status symbol or higher level.  Question the motives of anyone who gloats about their humanitarian or charitable deeds as you can easily achieve fame by the work you do or the career you pursue.  Nonetheless, stopping to carry the heavy bag of an elder is humanity, assisting a disabled person to cross the Boulevard is humanity, helping your mother with dinner or housework is humanity.  Using your hands in service to anyone in need is humanity.  When you can’t use your hands, use your heart and spread some love.  Channel love for your fellow human by listening to someone in need, hugging a stranger, being there for someone, connecting by sharing the same space and energy with another human.  This, my friends, is the essence of humanity.  I challenge you to press pause on your life today and experience the grace of humanity.

Author is currently putting up at Harwan, Kashmir

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