We Are Human, But Are We Humane?
In the end, that is what transforms us from human to HUMANE.
I have pondered this eternal question much. We will often turn our lens to the world to answer it.
“Just look at the news, look at the Kavanaughs, the Weinsteins, the Trumps, look at the wars, look at the oppression, look at the cruelty…. just look at how people have treated me.”
We will shake our heads pathetically and say -
But do we turn the lens inwards and examine our very own conscience before we answer this question ?
Does darkness or light reside in the deep abyss of our souls?
If I scanned the trenches of my being,it would be like a scene out of the Titanic. It would be pretty dark and murky down there. I would need to dive in with floodlights.
Have I hurt the ones who love me - Check
Has pride got the better of me often- Check
Have I been a hypocrite judging others while being blind to my own deeds?-Check
Has envy ,anger and hate twisted me inside out- Double Check
So how can I speak about mankind, when there is a lack of humanity in me most of the times?
Thank you ‘self reflection’ for shoving me off the high pedestal, I imagined myself to be on.
My 7 year old son one day told me, how another kid in school had said that Jesus was just imaginary and only his God was real.
It seems religion is a very touchy topic, even on the monkey bars!
His words instantly took me to the time, I was trying to convince my friend, an atheist about the presence of God. Things ended up getting a little heated with each of us trying to prove our point.
How could she not see what I saw? How could she not sense that there was a bigger power? How could she be so proud?
Religion can very conveniently be used as a cloak of piousness, which we adorn in front of others to make ourselves look so virtuous and give us the right to cast that first stone.
I had committed that very cardinal sin.
I had cast the first stone.
How far off was I, from that young child on the playground passing judgment on another?
That child was an innocent child, while I was a NOT so innocent adult.
A little kid on a playground had shown me the gravitas of my mistake. I made sure to sincerely apologize to my friend. She was so gracious and kind, telling me there was nothing I had to apologize for.
This left me more guilt-riddled and ashamed of the person I was.
I had been the proud one, thinking I was better than her, just because I accepted the existence of God.
Now accepting a God, you could never see was the basis of faith in religion. We were all swarming to accept and call ourselves blessed and saved.
But how accepting were we of people right in front of us, of whom we could see?
How accepting was I of my own family, friends and the people around me?
….. Not very.
We might sit in the front pew in our Sunday best singing ‘Praise be to God’ but hours later with the same mouth, mock and judge a person because of their religion, sexual orientation, gender, race or circumstances.
It reminds me of those deflated soccer balls.
Just to make ourselves feel good, we will bring down another person and inflate our empty shell with some hot air.
The Bible doesn’t approve homosexuality, you’ll say……well neither does it approve judging and condemning others.
At a previous job, I was chatting with a new coworker. We got along well and we're enjoying each other’s company. In the midst of talking, she came to know that I was a Christian.
She said, “I am so glad you are Christian, I’m also a Christian.”
I kept quiet at the time because I had just met her. This is what I really wanted to say to her-
“Sorry to break this to you, but being a Christian doesn’t make me Mother Mary, just like how being a Muslim doesn’t make someone a terrorist.”
It got me thinking about all the times piety was flaunted as the ultimate virtue to be listed proudly on your bio.
Memorizing and quoting verses from the ‘Bible’/‘Bhagavad Gita’ /‘Quran’ doesn’t mean you have ascended to a higher power or have found extra favor with God.
It just means you have a good memory. Congrats!
Now translating those verses into actions that impacts someone positively is what will make any God smile.
It doesn’t matter which God you pray to, which building you call your house of worship or which prayers you chant on bended knees.
It all boils down to one thing.-Do No Harm.
Religion has little bearings on the kind of person you are, only your actions do.
Please understand that I am not bashing religion here, but rather the action of using religion as a convenient means to bash others, something which I myself am guilty of.
Even babies have more empathy than grown adults
As young children, we are brimming over with the ability to love and show compassion. We don’t see color, religion, gender, social standing, wealth or any differences. We just see what’s most important- another human being.
How does that innate ability get lost along the way?
Our ‘fight/flight’ response to fear something different was designed to protect us from harm. That green slithering snake on the tree will either cause us to run away or take a stick and kill it.
But when we react like that to another human, as if he/she was a dangerous, poisonous snake for whatever justified reason in our mind, we display the worst of humanity.
There are many people who put their money where their mouth is. They do not seek the limelight and often go unnoticed. They will not be humble bragging their goodness. Their actions instead speak volumes about the goodness that emanates from them.
These humble and meek teach me what I should strive towards more than any religion or religious person.
Since then, I have made it a point to instill a more important religion in my kids-that of acceptance and of tolerance.
Don’t accept a person only if they fit into your definition of a check box.
It is a challenge to accept and respect a person who is not like us, who is different for whatever reason, who does not believe in what we believe in or agree with our views.
I have found, that’s way harder to do than all the fasting, prayers and rituals that any religion demands.
It takes tons of humility and respect for another life.
In the end, that is what transforms us from human to HUMANE.
This article was originally published on medium.