Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Exploring the very essence of what makes us human

"Who are we?Are we just another primate - The Third Chimpanzee according to writers like Jared Diamond - or is there something special about us that distinguishes man from every other living creature, as philosophers - even 'Darwinians' like Dan Dennett - believe? No one doubts that over the last 10,000 years or so, humans alone have been able to change their life styles out of all recognition: concrete cities and the internet, heart transplants and space flights. The question is, how? Is the difference between man and chimpanzee merely quantitative - a heightened ability to think and reason, for example - or do we also possess some distinct quality that makes us unique? I favor the former view, but do not believe that it is simply a matter of cerebral function (Homo sapiens, 'thinking' or 'wise' man)...."

"What is the essence of humanity?. That is to say, what is it about humans which makes them fundamentally different from other species? When asked this question most people will give strange and misguided answers - often 'It's the ability to cooperate in a society' or 'the ability to show compassion.' These are patently untrue. Tiny brainless fish have the ability to swim in schools, and survive quite well in their own society. They follow the direction of the collective - if one fish panics, and swims frantically in a particular direction, they all follow. Many animals show apparent compassion. Certainly they make huge sacrifices for their own offspring, sometimes dying to protect them. While some would argue that this may have more to do with genetic survival than compassion, it is hardly a convincing characteristic of humanity. In fact, the essence of humanity is rationality. Only man has the ability to reason and to act on that reason for long-term benefit - to ignore the emotional programming, and the emotional desires which dictate actions to irrational animals. Choosing something which may require a great deal of emotional and physical suffering in the short term, but will create a long term benefit can only be done by a human. Only a man can willfully improve himself, to make his life better, to shape his environment. For rationality to exist, there must be incentive. Rationality does not exist in a vacuum. To deny a human the benefits from his rationality is to deny him the purpose of his rationality, and hence to deny his humanity.

Now, as I keep my quest about the above alive, I am propelled to think more which only stirs my emotional being above the rationale me. Living in different environments, adapting to new cultures and life styles are the obvious demands of being a traveler to destinations unknown. It does help one to widen one's horizon of understanding and comprehending life in a new light as realizations begin to develop within. Realization of facts from fictions. Analyzing how justified we are being to ourselves and towards the society at large. Ironically we also start evaluating to what extent the society at large is being responsible for each individual existing within. They seem to come all hand in hand .Expectations come by naturally, as it is inherent. Our brains which are much more developed than any other living creature on this earth cannot stop but calculate. Calculate our contributions to the returns we expect, or so as to say calculate what we deserve for the time we invest in each of our endeavors. In this effort, factors that come to question are our morals, integrity, ethics and philosophies which determines the very existence of us as humans but are continually being compromised on a day to day basis. When such torrid situations and circumstances arrive, we suffer from conflicting emotions, brainstorm to find solutions to resolve the situations and circumstances. We still keep compromising for survival.

Our system also demands the various levels of standards of living. There is a clear demarcation between the haves and the have-nots. And it only seems to be truer that unless this vicious cycle continues, our system would not be able to survive. We are social beings and hence depend on each other in some manner or the other. So to keep this demand and supply curve going, such differences are made to exist at all realms of life and society. Just as the ecological balance is the basic foundation for the animals to survive on, unfortunately I am being bound to equate such with the apparent need of such standards of living that is so much needed for the society to exist.
In this bargain, we see teeming millions lead a life of starvation. Starving due to the lacuna of means and abilities provided or acquired. Starving due to denial of opportunities. Starving due to the list of the Priority Class of people who seem to snatch away the rights to equality with the power that they hold and use advertently or inadvertently. Such starvations are not only existing within the lower ranks, who we catagorise as the poors, but within the middle class and also the affluent.

History has chronologies of the Revolutions that have occured. Changes that are constant, happened due to the revolutionary movements and also due to the discoveries and inventions that have brought about chnages in our lives. We seek for the changes to happen and demand it from the society or the authorities. I would say, if changes are required, then it is within each one of us that are to be brought about, for each one of us makes the society we live in. Revolutions, discoveries and inventions are the very essence of our existence, then why not contribute to the same. Each one of us are responsible for the cause. Mutual acceptance is much needed to bring it to a constructive level. Instead of focussing on 'I' we can with little time, patience, compassion can focus ourselves to the 'We' as it is the 'We' that builds the human society. We seem to be consumed on what we have on our plate all the while in the name of survival. I realise today that as it is understandable that each one of us first needs to focus on our own survivals to think and care about the person sitting next to us, but we too have to devote ourselves a little for the other person too for the growth and development of the race, for our lives are all weaved in manners that get disclosed with only time, and the fact is We Are Inter-dependent !.

There is a leader in each one of us and a follower too. It is the choice that we make which either makes us want to be the leaders or the followers. When I speak of being a leader, I focus on taking initiatives, which is not an easy task surely. Apprehensions of not being accepted keeps playing and sometimes become a deterrant factor towards progress. One can't deny that there is struggle all the way. That is where the teachings of our mentors play an important role as they have set examples of the struggles they have faced, the persuasiveness they have exhibited and adhered to and fought the battle till the end. Not all problems are solved with the same formula. But keeping those means of solutions in mind, we as developed beings can use are abilities to formulate ideas and construct or bring out about the means of development by formulating ones that are apt to the situations and conditions. Not to disregard our roots, but changes bring about developments in each one of us. To strike a balance between the two is much needed. Supporting one another would help overcome the stumbling blocks.
All of this can be made possible, if there is the touch of humanity. It is easier said than done, but never impossible with belief in what one wants to achieve and understands the true purpose of being born as human beings.I may also add that it all begins from home.Understanding, unconditional love, mutual respect, trust, compassion, support, empathy, appreciations, incentives are the little gestures that would help us achieve. It does sound surreal for we seem to be in a choc-o-block or a catch 22 situation all the time. But I realise that a lot could be achieved, conquered and resolved if each one of us could sit back for a while, steal ourselves from the mechanical mundane world and delve ourselves into the depth of the very essence of what is humane. Putting aside all our materialistic needs for a moment, trying to see and feel the pain our fellow beings are going through, which are just as much as ours, if not more, would not put us in any loss.

I am sure all of us do halt for a while to take a look at the unkempt pile of bricks by the streets which are just brought out of the kiln, but how many of us do think to lay them towards construction and or may I fashion it thus - that how many of us do take the initiative to translate our thoughts into actions. They may seem to be insignificant in ones eyes, but such one brick is built with a lot of care and specifications just for us.....

.... this is one such profound realisation that my mind keeps wondering about, when I experience each moment of the life that is breathing in an under developed country like Kenya, a country which could have been more beautiful for their own people to live in... A country which could be more than just the wildlife sanctuaries and safari tours that the world prides about. Could have been truly glorifying if the human civilization could come up as it has in any other continent.

... more in my next blog.......

Best Regards, Best Wishes & Prayers.... From a visitor to this part of the world holding an 'Alien Card' !!!


Junaid Shaikh said...

very well thought...and extremely well written..! I second you on the thought that, we as humans, cannot and should not isolate ourselves within our comforting borders..! we, the people of this generation should understand that its not just abt loyalty tow2arsd your city or patriotism towards ur own country, its good to be that, but its not enough...! we simple cannot overlook the truth of life in certain other parts of the world. where survival is an issue on daily basis..!

Gombhira said...

Thanks Junaid for appreciating.
Those were my earnest feelings....

Best wishes