Saturday, October 5, 2013

The Point of Being Human; Part Five

To Be is to Understand

This is the final installment in "The Point of Being Human" series.  In the course of writing it, from "Part One" to now, I have had awesome "up's" and face-on-the-floor "down's".  In the past I probably would have given up because I felt that too much time had passed between some of my writings however, I do not feel that way anymore.  Now I finish what I start, no matter how long it takes or how many obstacles are in my way.  

It truly demonstrates how I have changed and matured as a person. It announces loudly that I "understand" some intimate aspects of myself.  This "understanding" is an essential part of the human "life journey".  Just like the title says; to "be" (alive) is to "understand" (the value in life and living) or vice versa.

We all desperately search for some reason for us all to be here.  There are religious ideologies and scientific theories, but I think that many of those are too far reaching.  Naturally we can all extrapolate out from the point that we find ourselves to some lofty conclusion, but based on my life experiences and tens of thousands of conversations with diverse people from all over the world, I honestly think that we are all here to figure out who we are as individuals and then to use that knowledge to help others.  

Well, that's it!  All the great thinkers of the world can pack up and go home!  We don't have to research the meaning of life anymore!

Here is when it starts to get finicky.  Do we speak here on in about the reason why we are all here, or about what it means to be a human being?  Although those ideas are similar and used interchangeably, they are not the same.  I have no clue why we are here as a species.  There are numerous ideas to suggest how we all came to be here, but, what I am saying, pertains to what we do with our lives, with our consciousness, once we understand that we are here and can do more than go to school or work, punch a clock somewhere and come back to our separate homes and lives.  

An essential part of being human, in my estimation is "knowing", or put otherwise, learning.  There can be no progress made from birth to death without learning on some level.  Whether in a tribal culture or an industrialized city, we need to learn; what to do, how to communicate in a plethora of ways and with diverse people, how to live, and how to survive in our respective environments.  It is an essential part of progression as a person, without which, we would all be naked, crying for what we want and generally living in squalor. No one would be able to progress from one developmental stage to another without learning. 

Another integral human quality is the ability to "feel".  Feelings are a complicated issue for most practitioners of science, because it is undeniably subjective.  On top of that, one cannot accurately describe the scope of some emotion that one person may have for another, so unfortunately, feelings get left off on a shelf, in a nebulous region that also houses "spirituality", "intuition, instincts or gut feelings", and anything else that cannot be categorized, measured and thus quantified, and documented in a scientifically valid way. 

Without feelings why would we pair-bond?  We might have sex because that physically feels good, or we might live with someone for economic reasons, but there would be no other basis for pair-bonding.  Why too would anyone put up with the whining, runny noses and the years of training, discipline and expense involved in rearing children without some sort of an emotional attachment to them? Their cuteness alone is not enough of a draw, and besides, isn't there some smattering of emotion in the concept "cute" anyhow?

I have known about an old adage since I was a child: "Experience is the best teacher".  It's simple enough to understand; what you go through in your life has a greater hand in shaping whom you become as a person than virtually anything that you learn in a book. You could be the greatest doctor the world has ever known based on technical skill and book learning, but if your bedside manner is wanting, you may simultaneously be the most unemployable doctor in the world too!  "House" is not real life.

More than simple learning is needed to move forward as a person.  You need to have many varied experiences to test you in differing circumstances and for you to understand how to react at those times. Yes, that has a learning component, but experiential learning can only come from one source; you have to go through something in order to learn.

Once you have realized that you are alive, you learn some basic stuff and you experience a bunch of things, then you start to gain some understanding.  The definition of the word "understanding" is more involved than you might think it is, so I will abbreviate the Dictionary.com example: "To perceive what is meant... to accept sympathetically... to have knowledge or background, as in a particular subject... to have a systematic interpretation, as in a field or area of knowledge."  

Many aspects of  human life, the things that make it worth living, cannot be discerned or "solved" like a mathematical equation.  The word "understanding" draws that into sharp relief.  The point of being human is to find where there is meaning, and what is meant in various situations and to infer how those situations do or do not apply to you and those around you. Also, to use all types of emotions to help you to interact with and interpret the world. In order to do those things you need to use your experiences from osmosis and directly learned sources, to decipher and understand others and their motives. True purpose comes from fielding experiences through the full totality of the human range, which includes; logic, emotion, physical and spiritual responses and modes of interpretation. 

We do all of the complicated-sounding, things in the previous paragraph every single day.  We see things and through what we know, sort them out in our own minds, almost as an afterthought.  We also see what happens to others.  There are some people who really don't care or let what they see affect them, but my challenge to that thinking is this; when people in the world have thrived, it has always been in a spirit of mutual cooperation. I believe that in order to really move forward as a species, we need to start helping each other. We need to set aside antiquated hatreds, abolish dictatorial and totalitarian regimes and ideas and start working to preserve and improve the earth that sustains us all.  

I think that all of these thoughts combine to demonstrate what in my estimation is the meaning of being genus homo-sapiens.  I also honestly think that until all the peoples of the world face one common threat to all of our cherished freedoms and ways of life, we will not pull together and will continue on our destructive and divisive path.  The people in the world make it more of a complicated place than I actually think it needs to be.  We need one killer asteroid from space; an extinction level event; complete financial collapse on a world scale, one crazy person with his or her finger on the trigger of a few nuclear weapons or a massive plague the likes of which the world has never seen.  Hopefully then, we would all unite to fight off a common enemy and it would not be too late to figure out the point of being human.