What makes us human?
And, what experiences, practices, or characteristics help us to grow into fully realized human beings?
These are the questions that the ensemble of your favorite Fringe show is wrestling with these days. If we’re going to make a show with such a preposterous title as “How to Be a Human,” we’ll have to make some decisions about what topics to include. For example, we’re pretty sure we can’t talk about the human experience without talking about romantic love. Or, the experiences of war and destruction.
What do you think we should include?
To get you started, here are some musings from a close friend of the project, Bobbi Maiers. Melanie called her up one day last week to interrupt her morning with this unusual question. Being a lovely and thoughtful human, Bobbi kept thinking about it for some time, and emailed this a day or so later. Have a read, and join in with your own ideas about being human in the comments section!
The following musings are excerpted from an email from Mrs. Bobbi Maiers:
….part of what it means to be human is to care.
Yep, to care. No fireworks are going off, I know.
But it’s a simple statement that sums up a lot of things. To be human is to care about how and where we live. To care about how our life and our choices affect others and the planet. To care about doing what’s right rather than what’s easy — and to put forth that effort even when it’s exhausting, complicated and difficult, because you know it serves a greater good. Or is simply the right thing to do. And I think that sometimes caring is simply exhausting, in a world that bombards us with conflicting messages and information and research and options, options, options everywhere — it’s a complicated thing to care. For instance, in the context of this food issue, if I care about the workers suffering in a processing plant, or care about all humans having a basic standard of living and to not be treated as machines, then I have to care about all the things it takes to put that plan, that belief, that care, into action. I have to care about taking measures to effect some small change. I have to care enough to research what my options are and make better, more informed choices, and that takes time and energy and money. I have to care enough to deny myself some things in the interest of greater things. Which means I have to care enough to have willpower. I have to care enough to change my budget, the way I shop, the way I think about things, all sorts of random, small stuff.
When did being human get so complicated?
Of course this caring relates to every other facet of our lives — our food supply and the scary things that are happening are simply on my mind after watching that documentary. It translates to all manner of political issues (if I care about the healthcare issue, what do I do to live in a way, make choices in a way, that supports that care? etc. etc. …and social issues…and family/personal issues – everything.)
To be human is to take on the burden of caring, because we have a conscience, because we know when something is right and should be cared about, fought for, even if it’s scary or daunting or difficult or means a significant amount of change. So I guess that’s why I refer to it as the burden of caring. It’s overwhelming to care about everything at once — impossible, really. But I think it’s a pretty significant part of being human. A responsibility, you could say, if you want to live with conviction and intention.
So, now it’s your turn.
What makes us human?