Heat radiates from the microwavable heat pad into my lower back. I see the bright white light of the laptop computer and the characters of the English language appearing in a segment of the screen. My ears pick up the soft padding of the keys as I press them. In the background, a steel awning clicks as raindrops fall onto it.
I take a sip of coffee then glance at the wall clock that reads 10:09 UTC. The venetian blinds on the windows in front of me are closed to shield me from any passersby who might glance in, shrouded by the darkness of the early morning. I take a deep breath then exhale with a silent sigh. It’s good to be alive. I’m glad I was born as a human being.
This is what it’s like for me to be a human being at this moment in time. Some variants of these sensations take place in the wee hours of each morning in my little house that is located in a small city in Northeast Nebraska.
Usually, I’ll pause to proofread portions of the work in progress, while munching on breakfast and savoring a second mug of joe. As I sit at my desk, pondering these physical and mental events, I wonder how many millions of people engage in the practice of paying attention each day. How many millions stop to contemplate their unique experiences as a person. How many of us daily meditate on the fact of our essential interconnectivity with other humans and the rest of the planet.
I looked up the definition of human being in my Webster’s College Dictionary, I found: 1. any individual of the genus Homo esp. a member of the species Homo sapiens and subspecies homo sapiens sapiens. 2. a person, esp. as distinguished from other animals or as representing the human species.
We might think that defining ourselves is an obvious task. We already know what we are. We experience the state of being a human being all the time. How many of us understand that homo sapiens sapiens is the only creature that defines itself and defines other species of life?
Human beings love to define and categorize. We seem to automatically do so, even as toddlers. For instance, we have pigeonholed each other into various races. This very controversial topic is often discussed among us human beings. Some people differentiate themselves from other people by outward physical characteristics such as skin and hair pigmentation and places of ancestry. Biologists discuss whether or not there are actual races. DNA research has shown some variations in chromosomes. There is some debate about whether these differences are trivial or not. Regardless of such scientific findings, all people are homo sapiens.
Individual human beings can be categorized in many other ways. We only need to scan the news headlines to be reminded of our species’ variations. Some of us use categories to dehumanize other people and some of us use categories to celebrate the beautiful diversity of humanity. The fact remains that regardless of whether one might be a female aboriginal from Australia, a child from Laos, a CEO in Germany, or a male blogger in the United States, we are all humans being human.
Time to time, we all need to be reminded of the fact that all human beings are, indeed, human beings. The current state of civilization bears this out. Despite the amazing advances in technology, medicine, and research, our behavior seems to be regressing to levels of barbarity. Leaders of many human categories are proclaiming their antipathy towards humans of other categories at an alarming rate.
On a daily basis, there are human beings who treat other human beings inhumanely. I’ll forgo the details, because we are regularly reminded of the frequency of harmful incidents through our various information services.
I don’t need to be a Pollyanna who whitewashes the human experience nor a cynic who sees gloom and doom everywhere he looks. I can see that homo sapiens sapiens is an amazing type of animal and that I am happy I am one of us. My own frustration lies at the heart of the fact that too many humans seem to be unaware of our shared humanity.
That is why I write so many posts like this. I still hold onto the belief that we’ll somehow pull out of our funk. Perhaps soon, we’ll know the joy of sharing in this universal, yet individual experience of being human.
The Blue Jay of Happiness ponders this ages old saying: “Have compassion for all beings, rich and poor alike. Each has their suffering. Some suffer much, others suffer little. Deeply recognize our shared existance.”