Ok. So I'm feeling really human today. I'm feeling sluggish, peckish, and truthfully, a little worthless today. I'm NOT feeling the slightest bit superhuman (which for me means I can complete my to-do list and make dinner) or even slightly productive. In part, it's due to the dreaded fibro flare that decided to show up unannounced and uninvited. Fibromyalgia has a very inhospitable personality! And while I know that sunshine is coming later in the week, it feels chilly and wet and muddy. Yes, to me it feels muddy. But rather than continue this uninspiring dirge of kvetching, I decided to look back at some writing from my first doctorate seminar when the assignment was to reflect on the nature of being human. And since I'm feeling so sluggishly human..... What follows is an adaptation of a portion of that reflection.
To consider what is human and the nature of human beings, is to explore the concept of purpose. As a Humanist there are some important, yet complicated issues that center around being human, like freedom and responsibility, identity and alterity, time and memory. All of these issues point to purpose and I can imagine that the same issues might be of considerable importance and complexity in a number of the world’s great religions. How one defines the issues according to a particular source, tenet, or sacred scripture is where the theological facets of a religious tradition or philosophy are revealed.
In monotheistic religions where God is the Creator of humans, the purpose for human life flows from the purpose for God’s creating. Therefore, it may be concluded that the purpose of life is the realization of what is most essentially human - the manifestation of God within. This is in conflict with Humanist thought. In fact, The Humanist Manifesto III, written in 2003, says: Humans are an integral part of nature, the result of unguided evolutionary change. It is, indeed, a striking theological difference. Rev. William Murry, former seminary President, professor, and Unitarian Universalist minister, has summed up the Humanist viewpoint as such: “Life’s meaning is not a given, not inherent in life itself, and not dependent on belief in God. We are the meaning makers; we are the ones who make our lives worth living.” Rev. Murry’s words are all about purpose and responsibility. Similarly, the second Humanist Manifesto boldly claims that humans are responsible for “what we are or will become. No deity will save us; we must save ourselves.” This is precisely where the complexity of freedom and responsibility becomes evident for Humanists like myself.
Other creatures have life, consciousness, intelligence, and even some limited linguistic ability, but only human beings are responsible to choose their manner of life and hence their destiny. Responsibility is central to what it means to be human. This responsibility connects to purpose through relationships. Human beings are after all social beings; participants in the web of all life. The joining of individuality with interdependence enriches our lives, encourages us to enrich the lives of others, and inspires hope of attaining peace, justice, and opportunity for all. Such interdependence is where human beings find identity, meaning, and fulfillment as it is manifest in relationships.
The responsibility for our lives and the kind of world in which we live is ours and ours alone.
Yeah. This: purpose, responsibility, relationship. I feel sluggishly human because that's how I'm choosing to feel. I alone am responsible for my identity, my relationships, my life, my humanity. I am fabulous and flawed today and every day. Tomorrow will come and maybe there will be sunshine. Maybe my unwanted visitor will decide it's time to move on. And maybe, just maybe, I'll feel less sluggish, less flawed, and more super & fabulous! I get to choose.
I had hoped to post once a week, and did for a short time. Unfortunately, my doctorate research and other obligations have taken priority over the blog. BUT, I will return soon! Some postings may be articles I've written for publication, messages I've delivered in congregational settings, or excerpts from papers written in my doctoral classes.