Are we really human?

This seems like an odd question to ask, yet it is a very important question. For the most part we are not fully human, we mostly exist in a human-animal nature.  This in no way implies that we are advanced animals, that is simply not true.

To exist in a human-animal nature means that we are strongly connected to the same things important to animals; food, warmth, attention, affection and other impulsive responses.  There is a sameness among animals in the way they identify with the group rather than valuing each individual in the group. In human society, this manifest as nationalism or any other preference which excludes those who are different.

What sets humans apart from animals is the ability to think, to speak, to walk upright and the ability to say “I” when referring to ourselves.  If we understand what it means to be able to say “I” we begin to experience the true difference between humans and animals. The key to experiencing ourselves as individuals able to say “I” is found in the way we ‘touch’ our environment. Here I am here, everything else is over  there. This comes about through our sense organs as we see something out there – people, trees, buildings – and we feel ourselves to be separate from them. This wasn’t always the case, the ancients felt themselves to be innately part of their environment without separation.

When we have a strong sense of “I”ness, a different feeling of belonging arises. In our separateness we make a personal choice to love everything outside us without discrimination. We are grateful for all that is outside us because it gives us our sense of self. We relate to the “I” of the other person because we have the “I” in common. When these are real experiences for us we can say that we are human, or at least becoming fully human.

Image: Children at Lunch by a Corn Stook by Peter De Wint c1810

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