The word “humanity” reminds me of the first time I heard in high school that humans are higher animals and monkeys are our cousins. I remember being irritated by the fact that we were even referred to as animals, despite the qualification “higher.” I’ve learned my lesson.
In my previous post about “lessons from animals,” I discussed some of the characteristics that some animals exhibit that humans also possess.
A definition of humanity could also help us understand what distinguishes humans. So, what exactly is humanity?
I looked up the definition of the word “Humanity” in various dictionaries and discovered that the definitions are given based on a variety of factors ranging from the human’s physical characteristics to the qualities the human possesses or is expected to possess.
The Collins English dictionary provides the following definition of humanity:
1. All human beings collectively; the human race; humankind
2. The state or quality of being human; human nature
3. The trait of being compassionate; kindness; benevolence
Understanding humanity may imply viewing the human from three different perspectives: species, behavior, and global identity.
HUMANITY AS A SPECIES;
This definition considers humans to be animals called Homo sapiens, which means higher animals, and this tends to distinguish humans from other animals due to some characteristics that humans possess. These characteristics include the ability to reason, imagine, learn and understand different languages, and develop technology and advancement. While the lesser animal kingdom has remained relatively unchanged over time, humans have been able to shape the world with their creative minds and imagination to the point where even some wild animals have been domesticated, and many inventions have been created by human imagination to make life easier on the planet. Humans have even been able to visit planets other than Earth.
Another aspect that distinguishes humans from lesser animals is their ability to create objects that are larger than them, objects that defy gravity’s laws, antibodies, vaccines, and weapons. The ability of humans to hybridize with other animals, plants, and machines has resulted in the development of robotics and artificial intelligence.
The human mind and imagination have also created technology that transcends time and space, such as communication platforms like Skype, Zoom, WhatsApp, and Twitter. Meetings can be held in the air using these platforms, with all participants visible regardless of their location or time.
The evolution of human activities is also evidence of the human race’s superiority. Communication used to be mostly between people, but it has evolved since the invention of telephones, radios, and televisions. The same message could be delivered to a larger audience all at once. More inventions continue to emerge from the human mind’s imagination, the hybrid of the human and machine, and human intelligence; there is no end in sight. This makes humans the superior species!
THE HUMAN BEHAVIOR;
This aspect examines human ethical behavior as it relates to their displays of kindness and compassion for one another. Kindness and compassion are the fundamental values that are used to define humanity. This is the ability to care for one’s fellow man, to save life, and to choose life over death. This is so important that it is the Red Cross Movement’s primary goal. This distinguishes humans from other species. This is also the definition of humankind given by humanity.
I saw an older male lion kill some lion cubs in order to gain access to their mother, the lioness, and because the cubs belonged to another male lion in a documentary about lions. Humanity, by definition, will naturally not commit such an act. This is why, when someone acts inappropriately, commits murder, or injures another, the question “where is your humanity?” is raised. Some of these evil acts committed by humans against other humans are the result of abnormalities in the brain or faulty backgrounds, beliefs, and trainings.
Although there have been some negative evolutions and advancements in the area of human ethical conduct, some laws and rules have also been put in place to curb excesses that may impede humanity’s fundamentality. For example, there are rules for the act of war, punishments for murder, and laws that govern every action in this regard.
HUMANITY AS A GLOBAL IDENTITY;
This is the global identity definition, which assumes that every human, regardless of location, religion, culture, beliefs, attainment, color, and so on, has a stake in the world because they are a part of the people on the planet. It regards all humans as a single group sharing a single planetary home.
Although this definition has been threatened by various circumstances and challenges in the world today as a result of a display of selfishness, superiority, and political prowess, the fact remains that we all face similar challenges such as violence resulting in war and crises, threats to our health and immune system, such as the Pandemic, dangers and risks from our technological inventions, such as climate change as a result of our inventions, and how to coexist.
Looking at the definitions of humanity above and the happenings in this same world we live in today, the wars, injustices, domination, cruelty, abominations, all kinds of evil and human rights abuse, one cannot help but wonder, WHERE HAS OUR HUMANITY GONE?
However, there is hope if we can reason like the saying below;
“You must not lose faith in humanity. Humanity is an ocean; if a few drops of the ocean are dirty, the ocean does not become dirty.” – Mahatma Gandhi
Perhaps the part to play in reversing this evil trend toward our precious humanity is to heed the advice of Martin Luther King, Jr.
“An individual has not started living until he can rise above the narrow confines of his individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity.”