Humankind: Who Are We?

I Look at You and See Myself . . .

You inhale the essence
Of a delicate flower-
A smile of serenity
Barely touching your lips.
. . . just as I have done.

You hold your child’s hand
As she urges you on-
A smile of delight
Shining in your eyes.
. . . just as I have done.

You gaze at the stars,
The night sky a-glitter-
Lips parted in wonder,
Vibrant awe on your face.
. . . just as I have done.

We’ve shared the same joys,
Your face tells the story,
Denying the differences
We’re taught to expect.
. . . (our hearts know better.)


Imagine that our imagination is limited. . .

Our questions about who we are as human beings probably began at the same time our most notable human trait emerged: our self-awareness.  In our more recent history, those questions seemed to center around examining our biology and our environment for answers, the “nature vs. nurture” dilemma.  Which aspect or combination of these aspects determines who we become as individual persons?  And are those determinants- if we dare use such a strong term- the same for all of us?

Consider consensus of expert scientific knowledge/opinion up to the present time as it applies to the nature or biological aspect of our dilemma.  We have learned while human DNA is unique to each of us (with the exception of identical twins) it is similar enough in all of us to define us as a species, to differentiate us from other living things on earth.  Scientists have mapped the human genome in attempts to define the role of genetics in human physiology and to understand how genetic variations may affect individual people.   This effort has complemented ongoing studies of gross and microscopic human anatomy and physiology, broadening our knowledge immensely.  Yet the process is very far from complete.  For example, in studying the human brain, scientists have concluded we only use a small percentage of our probable potential.  What’s going on in the parts we supposedly don’t use?   For now, no one knows.

At a level more essential than DNA and  human physiology,  we long ago discovered everything in our known universe is composed of atoms, the characteristics of which we continue attempting to define and describe.  So humans share our very basic components with the universe.  In fact many scientists describe the earth and all its inhabitants as having been created by stardust.  In a very real sense, we are ONE with the universe.

But each of us experiences the universe in our own unique way.  Thus the nurture aspect of our dilemma in defining how we become an individual appears to be even more complex.  From the womb to the world at large, the variations of our experiences are infinite.  We are each taught by our families and communities how to conduct ourselves, and in many cases, what and how to think and believe.  As we mature, we internalize all we’ve been taught and we also internalize our responses to what we have learned.  We question, we continue to seek knowledge, and we choose what resonates within us as our truth.

Given all we have learned it appears humans have limitations.  Our nature limits us; our lifespan is short.  Our nurturing limits us merely because it would be impossible to experience all life has to offer.  Must we conclude that our imagination also has limits?  Or is it possible our very fixation on using nature and nurture to define what it means to be human has been our major limitation all along? Are we still not seeing the whole picture?

Can we imagine ourselves as being MORE than our scientific endeavors have revealed?  Can we imagine how being ONE with the universe may add another dimension to our understanding of who we are?  Can we imagine how our existence as part of infinity would present us with infinite variables to consider as we seek to describe humankind?      Can we imagine. . . ?

Yes, we most certainly can- and have done so in our own ways. But no matter where our imaginations take us, no matter what beliefs suggest themselves in our mindful wanderings, I pray we all continue imagining, so we might remove ourselves- our BEING- from our genetic and experiential limitations and avoid imposing further limits on describing our humanity.



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