What does it means to be human?

My Recent Posts

So as the title says, what does it mean to be human?





We all start out in the same way, a tiny creation formed by our parents during a moment of sex, sometimes we are created out of love and sometimes we are a horrible unintended accident, but no matter if you were wanted or not, loved or not, cared for or abused as you grew up, those circumstances do not define who you are or what it means to be a human being.


Scientists can sit you down and detail out exactly what your body is comprised of and how it functions and point out strengths and weaknesses but is that all you are?  Are you defined by the building blocks of your body?  


A poet may weave pretty words and ideas into graceful and artful definitions of humanity but are you defined by their ideas or your own?


A warrior or criminal or athlete may define their humanity by their physical prowess and how they stack up to others, is that you?



I have given a lot of thought over the years about society and how we define ourselves and our lives, and how some never seem to find any real balance or happiness in their existence.  But the thing that sticks out about human beings in my mind is our capacity to see evil in those who do not see things exactly the same way as we do.  Today there was a story attacking those who have religious beliefs, others are about how evil those who do not share their political views are or how crazy it is for some people to shove transgenders into the mainstream, or maybe eating meat is evil or wrong and 

Windmills are killing birds, etc.  We can look into the things we talk about and most of the time it is about the things we do not like, or even hate.  Look at what we see in the news and what we discuss in our circles of friends and and what we see on sites like this one and most of the time we seem to be driven mostly by our negative side, the one looking to find fault and excuses to hate.



I have a saying I have used for over 35 years now, "If all you are looking for is the negative, you will always find it even if it not there."



Humanity seems to be defined individually by what we hate, that is what we put our energy into with the most enthusiasm.  The many wars in our past and the degree of ugly our last American election inspired should help to support that notion.



But hate is an emotion, and human beings have many emotions, some may call them passions but they are what in my mind defines us as human beings.  We are the emotion we choose to prioritize in our lives.  It is like the old story of what wolf do you feed?  The good wolf or the bad wolf?  It really is that simple in my opinion.  



I remember one of my earliest memories with working with others was picking tobacco leaves in the middle of summer at 14 years old and there was an older guy who was famous for always being happy, always had a hello and a pat on the back, always helped others when his work was done, always tossing jokes and playful teasing with sometimes complete strangers and one day I asked him if he was always as happy as he looks and he told me that happiness was a state of mind and you make a choice each day to be the person you want to be.  Even when you are hurting and having difficulties in your own life you can still make the choice to be happy.  Now this is hardly a new concept in the world but it was new to me but I never fully embraced this concept until many years later when I was doing some volunteer work in Colorado at a children's cancer wing of a hospital.  Now I can tell you that I was filled with dread not knowing how I would handle the situation and I was imagining a horrible and depressing and gloomy couple days because cancer is certainly a horrible reality to face especially when it comes to children right?


I was so guarded and mentally prepared for the most emotionally difficult times of my life and ready to do my best to show support for what I assumed would be children at a very dark moment of their life.  And while there was most definitely a dark reality hovering on the air, instead of sad and gloomy and depressed children as far as the eye could see, we found ourselves dealing with happy and playful children who were excited to spend time with us as we did shows and played dress up and face painting and we had a beginner balloon artist that was breaking as many balloons as she turned into animals and the popping balloons seemed to be a bigger hit than the animals to be honest, lol.


It was spending time with those kids that reminded me of what the old guy said to me about happiness being a choice we make but also sadness and anger and hate etc is all what we choose to make important in our lives.


So what does it mean to be human?  Well in my humble opinion being human means dealing with our emotions because it is our emotions that make us human.  They drive our lives and our relationships and control how we see each other and everything else to be honest.  Our emotions are the glasses we look through to see the world.




But, that does not mean our emotions serve us very well, even loving someone can turn on us and cause us great pain when the object of our love does not love us in return.  And there is no doubt wallowing in hate will give us nothing but pain in return.  So how do we as emotional beings keep those emotions from leading us down a bad or wrong path?



Sorry, that is an answer human beings have not found yet, but I do not know if we really want the answer, because then we stand a chance of being cold robots incapable of feeling anything, and that would surely destroy humanity because the only thing that makes us truly special are those emotions, good and bad.


Jeffry Gilbert Added Mar 21, 2017 - 1:27pm
Suffering. That's what it means. Born. Suffer. Die. Nothing more or less. 
Louis E Weeks Added Mar 21, 2017 - 1:37pm
You never had any fun or love or seen anything beautiful in your life Jeffry?
I certainly agree that suffering can be a big part of some lives, but there can be a lot of good too, again it can be a frame of mind, if you only want to see is suffering or other bad, then that is all you will ever see.
Jeffry Gilbert Added Mar 21, 2017 - 2:14pm
The four noble truths.....
existence is suffering ( dukhka ); suffering has a cause, namely craving and attachment ( trishna ); there is a cessation of suffering, which is nirvana; and there is a path to the cessation of suffering, the "eightfold path" of right views, right resolve, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, and right concentration.
Jeffry Gilbert Added Mar 21, 2017 - 2:17pm
You never had any fun or love or seen anything beautiful in your life Jeffry?
I've had lots of fun, been loved by and loved some beauties and some exceptional women, I've stood places and seen things most are incapable of dreaming. 
None of those things change the basic premise of the dukhka or trishna
Louis E Weeks Added Mar 21, 2017 - 2:34pm
But it does mean there is more to life than suffering ass you originally claimed, lol.
Stone-Eater Added Mar 21, 2017 - 2:54pm
It means to care and not to put your ego above other people.
Stone-Eater Added Mar 21, 2017 - 2:57pm
BTW: When you suffer mentally it might be your fault. When you suffer in terms of survival you had bad luck in where you were born or you wanted too much.
Stone-Eater Added Mar 21, 2017 - 2:58pm
.....materially, I mean. The last shirt has no pockets so no use to waste you life amassing wealth.
Leroy Added Mar 21, 2017 - 3:28pm
We can all wax about what it is to be human.  We can impart whatever meaning we want.  We invent words like "inhumane".  In truth, only a human can be inhuman.
What does it mean to me?  I answer that question by defining what separates us from the other animals.  We digitize everything.  Everything has a number, length, volume, color, shade, class, temperature.   
Micahel Dolan Added Mar 21, 2017 - 3:56pm
What is a Human Being-----Good-Bad and Ugly.
Dino Manalis Added Mar 21, 2017 - 4:29pm
Humanity with a reasoning mind!
Lady Sekhmetnakt Added Mar 21, 2017 - 5:08pm
To me being human means being a productive, functional member of society. But then again I strive to be more than just human. 
Bill H. Added Mar 21, 2017 - 10:12pm
I believe we are just another case of over-evolution or an evolutionary mistake, which has happened many times in the past history of the earth. Dinosaurs were the latest prime example, as were other creatures in the sea that apparently had a bit too much of an appetite and were wiping out other species quickly. As we well know (unless one is brain dead) that humans have done an excellent job of wiping out species, habitat, and entire ecosystems.
But hey, let's just enjoy our vehicles, cell phones, and the Internet before the machine figures out that we need to be eliminated because we don't quite "fit in".
There's a big rock floating around in space with our name on it that will just happen to hit the Earth at about the right time to start the process all over again.
Amazing how the machine works, isn't it?
Patrick Writes Added Mar 21, 2017 - 11:20pm
Good post, first of all.
Emotions make us human? I'm not so sure. Animals have emotions (my dog as a kid was a poodle and seemed to hate my guts because I was the one who had the job of cleaning up if he messed in the house--and spanking him for it was part of the job). I've heard someone say in the past that poodles are too smart to have as pets and it's better to buy a more stupid breed. 
Putting my religious beliefs aside, a simple explanation people use is humans are self-aware and animals are not. 
We can also talk and walk upright. And we're a lot smarter than animals. We have more complex emotions than animals. We wear clothes. We can learn. We make tools. We make music. We build complex structures, form civilizations, have wars. We can read and write. Animals can't / don't do any of this. 
But the author's overall point, can we rise above our base instincts, of course. And we should strive to do so every day. To not do so, is to forsake part of our humanity. 
Lady Sekhmetnakt Added Mar 22, 2017 - 12:14am
Bill writes "There's a big rock floating around in space with our name on it that will just happen to hit the Earth at about the right time to start the process all over again." 
Oh come on Bill, be more creative! Don't you know that the supermassive black hole at the Galactic core creates stars and giant rocky planets by the dozens an hour hurling them into space near the speed of light. One could impact the planet (or our star) at any moment with absolutely no way possible to stop it, and no notice whatsoever. Game over. Also our star system is moving as a unit about 200,000 miles per hour through the space of the Milky Way Galaxy. We could at any time encounter a rouge black hole which would be invisible until we encounter it. That would make things very interesting... Death by black hole is a million times more interesting than some bland rock. 
Bill H. Added Mar 22, 2017 - 1:26am
Jenifer, your absolutely right! We at least deserve something a bit classier like a pandemic or those big killing machines in the movie War of the Worlds. This would be more appropriate and selective, sparing the other life forms that we have plummeted during our "reign".
Louis E Weeks Added Mar 22, 2017 - 7:52am
Great replies all, and offer a view of how in general we as humans see and reply to the ideas of humanity based on how they view it through their own emotion based glasses.
Yes I do believe other creatures have some form of emotions but those emotions do not control their lives the way human beings are.  We insert our emotional beliefs into everything.  Our minds are established to prejudge virtually everything.
No I do not believe just being productive has anything to do with being human, machines and computers can be productive, that is more about what you do not who you are inside.  Being human is more than the sum of your parts, and more than how much money you can make and if you avoided criminal charges in society.  The things that truly make life special is our feelings.
Patrick points out we have the capacity to things like music and design and art and that is more in line with my point that our creativity and our expressions are based on our emotions.  
Why do we "FEEL" beautiful music?  Why do we "FEEL" beautiful art of sunsets or scenery?  Why do we "FEEL" completely different in a loving relationship rather then just a friendship?
My own life completely transformed the day my first child was born.  All the things I thought were important and special and wonderful paled in the view of this tiny life that I helped to create and was now responsible for.  Talk about emotions, I was both crushed and inflated by the emotions I was feeling at that time and while that day was many years ago I still remember the feelings I had as if it was yesterday.
Bill and Jenifer,
Being as you both agree the world as we know it is doomed to destruction at some point should we just give up on any kind of protection of the environment and get the most out of it while we can?
Opes Added Mar 22, 2017 - 10:31am
Having read all 18 comments from humans about being human is as interesting as realizing we all seem to assume a lot of things. Do whale sing, do birds have songs, is it just instinctual, are human emotions just instinctive behavior?
I will continue to read here.
Are humans the only creatures that realize sex is capable of causing pregnancies? 
Louis E Weeks Added Mar 22, 2017 - 11:28am
With animals it is indeed instinct as studies have shown birds and other creatures will have the same song types even if they have never been raised with other birds of the same type.
Sex in the animal world is certainly about procreation, when my dog goes into heat a couple local dogs spend a great deal of time trying to get into her fenced in part of the property, I would never kill them but I have tried to discourage them with various non-lethal methods but their instincts to procreate is over riding their desire to avoid those tactics, lol.
But when she is no longer in heat, I never see a single dog hanging out, but my teenage daughter growing up, now there is a different story completely, lol.
Now are emotions instinct?  I do not think so, because a lot of people respond completely differently to similar situations so to a large degree we can actually learn emotional responses based on others.  For example, fear, by and large most children have no fear, they have to learn to fear things either from experience or from their parents.  The fear many children had for Trump we saw in the news was inserted into them by their parents as a great example, none of them had any real concept of what any elected official could or could not do to effect their lives, it is impossible for them to have any genuine fear of Trump, so the only way they could feel fear is if their parents brainwashed them into absorbing that fear.
But the real question is, even though all of their fear was created by their parents, does that mean their fear was not real?  Of course not, they felt it now, the fear was learned behavior and is in fact real even if it is not based on reality.
Bill H. Added Mar 22, 2017 - 11:55am
Of course we should have been doing our part to protect the earth for as long as we have known how. I believe that may have been what we were meant to do in the first place. Native American Indians seemed to know well how to coexist with nature. We have chosen to take the route of plundering and simply depleting much of the natural world believing that it is our world and we can do anything we want. Science has shown us the results of our habits and we apparently still choose to deny and ignore that we are a menace to the planet. A good example that strikes home is that the average population of food stock fish in the world's ocean is now calculated at about 7% of what it was back around 1930.
This planet is our only home. If we continue to treat it like a trash dump, we will have nowhere to go.
Lady Sekhmetnakt Added Mar 22, 2017 - 3:06pm
I agree with Bill. Although as a person of science I realize our existence could end in an instant, I also realize that we could very well continue on for billions of years. And as a Kemetian I am charged to be a steward of nature just as my Kemetian ancestors were. Like the Native Americans we believe in coexistence in harmony with nature. This can only be achieved by a proper respect for the environment and it's various intertwined systems. 
Bill H. Added Mar 22, 2017 - 3:17pm
Very good, Jenifer!
If only everyone realized their place in this machine.
Louis E Weeks Added Mar 22, 2017 - 9:01pm
Bill and Jenifer,
Well you were first sounding pretty clear that you believed we were close to being destroyed but now you say not really, that was the basis of my question, if we are about to be destroyed anyway, then it does not matter one way or the other.
While I also agree in theory that conservation is a good goal, the problem is population and unless you are ready to advocate massive and strict population controls on all people of the world it will never matter anyway because you can't conserve faster than current population growth.
A massive amount of that growth is in developing or poor Nations, they will have food and energy needs and the cheapest methods and supply is all they will ever be capable of using.
Even advanced Nations hit financial walls.  When Japan was facing a massive need for energy with their nuclear plant mess they had previously been one of the world leaders on alternative energy research but when the money hit the wall their only choice was to build a lot of coal fired power plants, they even fast tracked them making it easier to get them built fast because there was simply no other rational choice to make considering the cost.
Story here.
So the next question for you two is, do you support Government forced population controls and if so, what forms would you believe to be the best?
And I consider this to be on topic, after all, it is also part of being human to demand things we know can't really happen to serve our emotions in many different ways.
Bill H. Added Mar 22, 2017 - 11:11pm
I actually agree with controlling the population, but we certainly can't rely on human logic to accomplish this.
The faster that the human population grows, the less time the human population will have.
So were you hoping that maybe I would go with the "So were going to be destroyed anyway, so let's just keep plundering the Earth" idea?
I think I see where your going.
Lady Sekhmetnakt Added Mar 22, 2017 - 11:31pm
As a Kemetian my beliefs don't require people to mindlessly procreate irresponsibly and being that the world can't support more than 10 billion people I do support population control. I believe men and women should be "fixed" while still infants then be required to become full citizens and be licensed to be a parent to be medically made fertile. Full citizenship would require either a Masters degree from a government recognized college or service and an honorable record in a branch of the military services. A license to become a parent would require taking a class on the matter and passing it. I base this system on the futuristic society system from Starship Troopers. 
Louis E Weeks Added Mar 23, 2017 - 7:10am
Bill and Jenifer,
Thanks very much for your replies, I was actually leading you both to the question of limiting population growth when I saw you speak of the environment because from everything I have seen, conservation just can't do it based on the numbers so this is why I do not really support "extreme" conservation because it can't possibly work unless we get population under control.
Now that we have established that you both support Government mandated population control and Jenifer got very specific, (thanks for that) we now get back to the humanity discussion very nicely because how do you make those choices and stay human?  Based on Jenifer's idea someone who has had an accident as a child massing up a leg and is not rich will never be a "full citizen" and can never procreate.  So they should be denied the most significant happiness a human being can obtain in life because they are not rich or extremely smart or serving in the military?  What if they are healthy but see killing as wrong?  Still they should be punished for not being smart enough and not being a killer?
My point in this exercise with you two is how can we call ourselves human and behave like monsters ourselves?  You can't impose population controls and be considered anything but evil.  Aside from the fact the masses would never allow it, the rioting would give you another method of trimming down the population I suppose but all concepts of a democracy is erased at that point and all of society would have to become managed under a fascist government, that is the only way it could ever happen.
In a place like America you would have to go door to door taking away all the guns to even try to start such a process because if you announced the sterilization process first people would show up to the hospital with guns to keep them from doing that to their children.  Or a lot of home births would be started, and how does the Government try to counter home births?  Send in military strike forces to grab up the baby?
If you take the idea to the necessary conclusions you find the idea is impossible, and as such if those forced sterilization ideas are impossible then conservation can never do anything more than buy us a few extra years, so why bother?
You have to solve the population issues or the rest is a waste of time. 
Bill H. Added Mar 23, 2017 - 12:02pm
Actually, maybe the best way to control family size would be to create a financial incentive for having less children.
Yes, it could be a "child tax" for each child over the amount of say two, and the amount increases considerably for each child over the amount of 3 and up.
Louis E Weeks Added Mar 23, 2017 - 12:18pm
Allowing two will not address the problem though, if you really want to do anything meaningful for the environment you must have no less than a 1 child limit per couple and once met even if you divorce and remarry or whatever you are done forever, if we do not do at least that much then no amount of conservation will mean anything in the long run.
This is fact, there is simply no other long term solution no matter what else we try so if we can't do that, then why bother with anything else when at best all it can do is stretch things out a few more years?
And being as politicians will never be able to put into place forced population control measures, the entire debate is irrelevant, we may as well just move on to other issues because this one is settled based on an impossible obstacle.
You may as well advocate killing those who are not productive in society, it will get just as much support as forced sterilizations, maybe more.
Lady Sekhmetnakt Added Mar 23, 2017 - 2:48pm
Louis, as per my examples, #1 College should be free, so no need to be rich if one is intelligent. If one neither respects the duty of military service or is intelligent and in either case refuses to be a contributing member of society, no, we don't need them pumping out kids. The solution starts with them, and there are lots of civilians who will fit this bill.
#2 as for home births, no problem, because you still need a Social Security number to function in society at all. That's when the procedure is done.
#3 read Starship Troopers to get an idea of how a functioning futuristic society deals with these problems. It's not rocket science. Perhaps when the food riots start as a consequence of Climate Change martial law, which will be impossible to avoid at that point, will pave the way for the rest. And you can bet your ass that is coming and soon. 
Patrick Writes Added Mar 23, 2017 - 3:08pm
If you make college free, you'll turn it into 4 more years of high school where people are just 'hanging out' because they have nothing better to do, throwing paper airplanes when the prof turns his head, passing notes to the women or man they like, party like it's 1999 every weekend. 
Would they get free room / board in the dorms too? They'll be packed to the rafters by parents unloading their offspring. 
That's what it practically is already at many state schools.
I think subsidized education is fine, but the cheaper you make it, the closer you'll get to high school (I went to a state school in Wisconsin in the late 90's that was subsidized by the state to be affordable and half the freshman class each year went on academic probation, UNDER a C average). 
Patrick Writes Added Mar 23, 2017 - 3:09pm
...and most of the required classes for freshman at my university were easy. 
Lady Sekhmetnakt Added Mar 23, 2017 - 3:22pm
Patrick writes "Would they get free room / board in the dorms too?" 
No, you make a high school comparison. Do you get free room and board in high school? No. Anyhow this isn't new, Bernie Sanders proposed it. 
Lady Sekhmetnakt Added Mar 23, 2017 - 3:56pm
Also Patrick it was my experience that college is a hangout for many already, hence the fraternities. Unless one plans to shut them down collage will remain so regardless of whether it's free or not. 
But regardless one can't just coast through college, you have to maintain a grade point advantage minimum. If not the hangout kicks you out. If not they aren't doing their job (perhaps to get more $ from the state). 
Leroy Added Mar 23, 2017 - 5:42pm
Are there too many people on earth, or is it just more liberal claptrap?  Heck, we could pack everyone on earth in one cubic mile.  What if we piled every human on Earth in the Grand Canyon?  We really don't take up that much space.  There is room for one, two, three orders of magnitude of people.  What's the big deal about people?  China is the most populous nation on Earth, yet you see lots of open land.
Mircea Negres Added Mar 24, 2017 - 3:35am
What we do and what others do to us define who and what we become in the end, because one cannot go through life without being affected by it. All of us are human, though some are not humane. Some are happy, others sad. Others yet somewhere between. There are the clever and the dumb, the wise and unwise. This is what it is and we are what we are until we don't have to be anymore- and then we go up in smoke or a hole in the ground.
Vlad the Impaler came out of being an Ottoman hostage as one of the 15th century's toughest opponents of Islam and Turkish expansion, eventually becoming a Romanian national hero despite his cruelty and excessive brutality. Radu the Handsome (his brother) became a puppet king after his brother's death. Nelson Mandela spent the bulk of his life fighting against apartheid at great personal cost and emerged from prison a man willing to bring the country together. There is a lot of logging in Asia, yet the Dalai Lama spends a lot of his time watering tree stumps and manages to revive some, returning life to what others tried to kill. This is humanity, a vibrant and wildly diverse species. Good post, Louis. Thanks for making me think.
Minister Peaceful Poet Added Mar 24, 2017 - 6:35am
We are souls inhabiting a body protected by an ego. This ego can be so strong in some that they themselves cannot see themselves, but only know their own ego.
Some of us have been here before and for others, this is the first time. 
There are some born on this earth without a soul and some will kill their soul and be dead, but these are rare, most of us are human, most of us have a soul. 
Lady Sekhmetnakt Added Mar 25, 2017 - 12:20am
Quite right Minister Peaceful Poet. 
Louis E Weeks Added Mar 27, 2017 - 7:41am
Sorry for the late reply, went on a trip with the family, lots of fun, lol.
You dodged my main points, do you really believe the "poor" will just stand there and let the Government mutilate their children?
You do understand that a lot of valuable people never get college degrees right?  The guy who does the airplane maintenance and keeps it in the air is more important to society than a guy with a degree working as a writer at the National Enquirer.  Just having a degree does not mean you are good for society.  All those bankers who cause the housing/banking  mess had degrees from prestigious schools so you really believe those kinds of people deserve to make babies but not the mechanic who keeps the planes we fly on in the air?
You do understand that the movie starship troops is a work of fiction and not a fully worked out and debugged society right?  All theory and zero reality, it can never work.
So sticking to reality, we have to understand that any mass population control would have to be either slipped into water supplies without telling people or by force that would necessitate a fascist world government using military might in all aspects of life.
Louis E Weeks Added Mar 27, 2017 - 7:49am
The point is the conversation side, all this talk of reducing carbon usage etc is a game, like 3 card monte.  
They keep the cards moving hoping to distract those watching but the real issue is population growth, not how we generate our power in America.  No matter what we do in America and Europe, population growth all over the planet will make it impossible to make any real impact on "Global" Co2 production so if we do not address this fact, there is no point in any of the conservation moves.
Consider that when Japan had their nuclear reactor issues they faced a need for a lot of power generation at the cheapest cost so they decided to built hundreds of coal fired power plants because they are the cheapest plants to build with the most output.
The same is true for all other developing and poor Nations.  If rich Japan had to go cheap, what do you think everyone else will do?
No population control. no way to control Co2 increases in the atmosphere.
Opes Added Mar 27, 2017 - 9:18am
Continuing to read here, but these answers seem to collapse, and do not adequately define.  What does 'mean' mean?
Lady Sekhmetnakt Added Mar 27, 2017 - 1:57pm
OK Louis, first of all I didn't say the movie I said the book, which by the way is the only work of fiction on the Marine Corp recommended reading list. Clearly they see the value in it, so do I. 
Second of all, as mentioned, the poor should be able to get free college. If they are just too lazy to apply themselves, not a great indicator for them being contributors to society. Not to mention some of those, everyman jobs you mentioned do require a degree also, like mechanics. Finally, if we do nothing about the climate or population growth as you appear to suggest we will end up with cataclysmic environmental issues leading to food shortages, then food riots, then martial law. At that point the measures I mentioned will have to be implemented or society itself will collapse. Is that your actual desire? I doubt our leaders faced with such a choice would chose oblivion. So the changes will be forcibly applied if it comes to that at such a future point in time. 
Dave Volek Added Apr 14, 2017 - 8:55am
Louis: Your article reminded me of a saying a Muslim fellow told me about 10 years back. He said the Koran says "Even the poorest of the poor can offer a smile".
There have been a few wise people in my life, and I enjoy passing down the wisdom they gave to me to other people (when opportunity tactfully presents itself). My maternal grandfather and Uncle Bill have passed on many years ago, yet their "works" continue on today with people they never could have known. 
Opes Added Apr 15, 2017 - 12:52am
It means that humans are inhumane and humane, functional and dysfunctional biologically/environmentally.  A human being is able to have a full blown discussion within their own mind because they are sentient and conscious.  The biology of the physical brain does not seem to account for all the forces that the human mind has produced.