Wednesday, April 17, 2019


     “What does it mean to be human?”
     The capacity to speak about humanity and to see humanity as a topic reflected in public conversation has disappeared. We have a hole in our consciousness when it comes to thinking about our humanity.

     If you are incapable of having a conversation about what it means to be human, does that make you inhuman? After all, one of the qualities which is essential for being a human, is to talk to one another and tell stories. Humans are the only beings which tell stories. The richest stories which have most meaning for us are about what it means to be human.

     Rarely do the stories which are reported these days talk about how “news” affects someone’s humanity.  Parents never have a conversation with their children, or one another, about their humanity. How our humanity is being changed by actions reported in the press is what the news shows never report. Humanity and the human question is the last thing that politicians want to talk about. How to protect humanity is something which cannot find its way into laws. How Corporate actions enhance our humanity certainly is not on the Fortune 50 Board agendas.

     Caring for the humanity of customers is not discussed in sales meetings. The health of the patient’s Humanity is not taught in medical schools. Is the Humanity of students  discussed enough in a majority of high schools? Are Teachers held to a humanity proficiency scale?

     Does the military give Humanity training? Are elected officials ever elected because they talk about and demonstrate their capacity for humanity?


     The reason we don’t talk about our humanity is because we now have a gap in our thinking and in our culture regarding humanity. We cannot think about how our humanity is nurtured or sustained in the American culture today, because only very small groups or individuals in our broader American culture today, pay any attention at all to humanity. So, if our broader “sense of self” pays little or no attention to our humanity – or actually works against it - then we have an attention deficit regarding humanity.

     Our view of the human being is not based on general conversations about humanity or understanding of what makes us human because in order to gain power and control, the general view of the human have been reduced to viewing humanity through specific lenses – genetics, behavioral psychological, physiological, chemical / pharmaceutical, economic, culturally specific, dogmatically religiously views, or others. All valid. All important. But the specificity has left a gap in our thinking – our capacity to think about humanity is now a negative or worse – laughed at.

     We now do not want to see our humanity or the humanity of each other because if we indeed strove for this, we would have to treat one another differently. We would have to give up our specialist thinking, our professional status, our positions of power and control. If we treat one another as objects, if I am able to label you, things are so much easier.


Is our public life so one-sided in our thinking that we are unable to think about our humanity? I want Humanity to re-emerge in our public thoughts. Because some of us have lost the ready, facile ways to think about humanity – the generally human – let me put my 2-cents on the table.

Here are some basics of humanity: kindness, tenderness, goodwill, sympathy, openness, modesty and benevolence?

We don’t see these much today discussed in our outer culture. What has hardened the hearts of the outer culture and made these appear so rarely in our public thoughts today?

Or, do the do-gooders simply do the good in the private human-to-human culture without calling attention to themselves? This means, as Vaclav Havel points out, we have a “parallel polis”.  An official culture in which humanity is disappeared and a human-based culture where humanity is alive and well – but silent.

I’m afraid the outer polis has Humanity Attention Deficit Disorder. If this continues, it will be catastrophic.

© Copyright 2015, Jean W. Yeager

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