Being Human

Frans StieneArticles, English 2 Comments

Meditation copy

I often hear people say that when they get angry, worried or fearful that they are just “being human,” that emotions such as these are part of being human! But is this really the case, and what does it actually mean to be human?

According to the online etymology dictionary, the word “human” came from old French (humain) and Latin (humanus) and also stood for “humane, philanthropic, kind, gentle, polite; learned, refined, civilized.” As we can see from this perspective, being human means being kind, gentle, and polite. Thus if we are angry, worried, and fearful we lose this kindness, gentleness, and politeness. In fact we are the opposite of being human! 

The dictionary goes on to say that it also stands for an “earthly being.” This for me means being of and with the earth, in union. However, in our modern world, are we still human? Do we still treat the earth with respect, do we still feel the interconnectedness with the earth, are we gentle and kind to the earth? Or do we plunder the earth and destroy it? If so, are we still human, an earthly being who lives in union with the earth instead of destroying it?

Maybe when we are angry, worried, fearful etc., and we say we are just human, maybe it is a way of saying to ourselves that it is okay to be angry, worried, fearful – that we can’t help it because we are “just human.” Maybe it is a cop out: “I am angry, but that is just me being human!” Therefore, I don’t have to do anything about it: I can just be angry, worried and fearful because it is part of being human. But what if being human is in fact the opposite: being kind, gentle, and polite? If we look at it from that perspective, then when we find that anger, worry, fear (or other emotions we might label as “negative”) are getting in our way and keeping us from being kind, gentle, and polite, we have to take action for ourselves. We have to practice so that we become less angry, less worried, less fearful. But this means taking self responsibility instead of hiding behind the phrase, “I am just human, so I do get angry.”

I feel we have to remember again what it means to be real ordinary human beings – full of kindness, gentleness, and politeness. This we can do through practicing different spiritual practices so that we can become ordinary again. Realizing that as a human race we are nothing special, we are not more special than animals, than the earth, than anything else, we are just ordinary human beings. But we can only do this through our own personal efforts, our own personal practice. Then when we do get angry, worried, fearful etc., we start to realize that we have strayed from being human – in fact we have become in-humane. 

So let’s hold hands together, let’s practice together so that for the sake of our children and the earth, we can go back to being real ordinary human beings again. Through our practice, and our connection to each other and to all things, let’s put the “humane” back into being human.

Comments 2

  1. Avatar of Susan
  2. Avatar of Veronique

    Thank you so much Franz for sharing your great insights about our true nature as humans …. first we may perceive that being human carry both sides: the anger, the fear, the worries, etc and on the trust, peace, serenity, etc. …. then we may realize that being human is to be in the middle ground …. the heart …. which is our true nature ….. one from which we are “humanitarian”, not just peaceful, confident and clear but also engaged, one from which we can express our emotions, our fire, in a way that is compassionate … the heart is where our humanity is to be, and practice helps us indeed to achieve that balance.

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