“If being human is not simply a matter of being born flesh and blood, if it is instead a way of thinking, acting, and feeling, then I am hopeful that one day I will discover my own humanity.”
-Brent Spiner as Lieutenant Commander Data
Lately, I’ve been thinking about what it really means to be human. Sure, it’s my species but I have to believe that there’s more to it than that. I have to believe that everything that makes up who I am as a person is more than just by design.
I’m pretty sold on the idea that there is more to us than our construction. Sure, we can lean on our experiences, feelings, knowledge, and wisdom to give us our shape. But, are these things inherent to our species or are these things part of something bigger?
I’m not entirely confident that just because I am of the human species that I’m inherently human. I don’t know what it honestly means to be a human. To be completely fair, I don’t think any of us really know. It’s one of the driving questions for us moving forward. Who are we? Why are we here? All of these questions help define our place in the universe.
But, throughout my travels, I’ve found it relevant to ask those questions. Who am I? Well, my name is Kevin. I’m thirty years old. I’m this. I’m that. Yes, yes… those are all relevant answers and they give insight to who I am. But, those types of questions don’t sufficiently answer the burning question: What makes me human?
Is it our beliefs? Is it our emotional state? Is it the sum of our knowledge and wisdom? Is it the size of our material possessions? I would like to think that these are relevant. It’s a gauge on how well we compare to each other. I’m not fond of being compared to other people. It’s not a fair means to determine our relevance. I believe that all of these things make us different and grants us our sense of individuality.
Though, I will grant that it is hard for us to feel like that we have to be better than the next person. The way we position ourselves is based on merit and arbitrary scoring methods. So, it’s easy to place our social worth on a similar system as well. Try as I might to try and get away from those things, I do find myself going back to such a thing.
However, the more I found myself not placing people above or beneath each other, the more worthy I found them to be. Like, everyone has a different level of skills or skill sets in general that are suited for varying degrees of tasks or just different tasks in general. Specialization really is a better way, at least for me, to give all of my relationships their value. It recognizes more of who they are as a person above what they are capable of. It’s given me a new appreciation for what the word “special” really means.
To me, the struggle with finding my humanity has been based on the idea that I’m trying to appease another’s standard of which I should exist. For example, men think that the blonde haired, blue eyed, and slender bodied female is the epitome of beauty. Don’t get me wrong, I probably would too. However, the vision I’d have for a woman would extend further than the physical realm. The point is, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. There are so many truisms that would support that statement. The shame in it is that we all want what everybody else wants. It’s difficult to be different when we wall want the same things, right?
The more I think about it and the more I see it work, the more I believe that’s what gives us our humanity. In a world that demands us to fall in line, it’s a high-pressure situation to not want to give into those things and just make a life worthy and true to who you are. It doesn’t feel natural to want to be free from unfair expectation or closed to new things because they aren’t popular. That’s where growth comes from! It’s hard to go somewhere new and different when all the roads are familiar and lead to places we’ve already been.
Following our heart gives us our identity and the journey to wherever that may lead is part of the struggle to define our humanity. But, in the end, finding the meaning that journey ultimately grants us our humanity.
We won’t know what we’re looking for until we find it, I guess.