Human Being Defined

Way back in time when I wrote my first post, an early inclusion was the following:

But isn’t the defining characteristic that makes a human being different from our chimp cousin intelligence, the capacity to think? This emerging mutation became more and more a gene that gave its owner a better chance at survival, a better chance at passing on that gene to the next generation.

I touched on a fundamental point but didn’t give any detailed proof or explanation to back up this assertion. If we’re going to build a new world together, I intend to start with a foundation, a definition which becomes the starting point to which all subsequent thinking and propositions will return. I’m proposing a new social system which includes all human beings. Unless I begin with an acceptable definition of human being and build from that, any system that I come up with will be floating on a cloud of confusion, drifting on a half-baked assumption. A lot like what we have now, but that’s food for thought for a possible future post.

Let’s continue with the evidence at hand and work backwards to my proposed definition. You, dear reader, are a thinking being. My evidence is that you are taking in my words using this capacity and understanding what I’m saying. Take your life and go back in time all the way to your birth. You began to demonstrate your thinking skill as you learned to speak. By the age of two or three you could speak in sentences and understand what other people were saying to you, follow simple instructions, understand the fairy tale that mum was reading to you. That is what defined you as a human being. You were gifted with his innate skill to think, to think logically, to understand what was being said to you and act upon it. No other living creature can do that. It’s our unique and defining skill.

We have other skills, other traits and characteristics too, ones that we share with other beings. As mammals we have the innate skill to suck at mother’s teat. We experience pain and pleasure, fear and anger, but these features don’t define us. They are not unique to humans.

Let’s reflect for a moment about all the things that we humans have created using our power to think. In no particular order nor in anyway judging their worth, I began my search on this using Google. In .53 seconds I was informed that Amazon alone sells over 12 million products, and if we look to everything available in the marketplace, the number expands to over 350 million. If we look at any supermarket today, we find that they will have about 25,000 different items on their shelves. Included in this list would be the keyboard I’m using to type the letters appearing on my screen using my Word app flowing along wifi waves to my internet modem and landing somewhere in the cloud of data in a bank of data servers somewhere on the planet another .53 seconds or less after I type. Mind boggling. The number of human beings who got together to create all of this is also mind boggling. All done by thinking.

Human beings created Beethoven’s 9th Symphony, da Vinci’s Mona Lisa which we turned into a song and sang along with Nat King Cole, read Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women or watched numerous filming’s of the story.

And in a darker vein human beings also created atomic bombs which we then flew in bombers and dropped on our fellow humans in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. As I type these words two of our fellow humans, Joseph Robinette Biden Jr. and Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin, are reminding us all too convincingly that we might be repeating similar bombings but on a much broader scale.

Why am I so interested in definitions? Because they become so important after we go beyond the simple thinking we learn in our earliest days. We got off on such a right foot. Mum and Dad taught us dog, cat, run, jump, carrot, potato, eat, sleep. So simple, just point and speak, point and speak over and over and even little you and I got it all correctly. Later I went to school and was taught how to read and write, how to represent those simple words that Mum and Dad taught us using letters that were combined to represent “dog” or “cat”. I was taught numbers too, simple arithmetic. But to go beyond this required a new way of thinking beyond point and speak, a way involving concepts and logic. I was never fully taught this and likely neither were you

As human beings, we will thrive or perish depending on the quality of our thinking. Without explicitly knowing what it means to think rationally has held us all back from living life fully. In a sense our life’s work is to improve the quality of our thinking so we can improve the quality of our own and others’ lives.

My desire and intention is to live in a world where each of us is busy creating the next symphony, the next poem, the next cancer cure, where we’re all busy having fun with our friends, playing with our children, walking on the beach enjoying the pounding of the surf. I want to live in a world in which each of us is doing our best to come alive, to figure out what that might look like and then to pursue that goal with the best that’s within us. This is what I’m calling A World of Honour.

To that end, I’m inviting everyone to take on the three principles of A World of Honour: do no harm, everything by agreement, and be your word. I’m offering this as a pact, a truce from which to live with each other as we create a glorious future together.

I want blue skies and rainbows in my future, not mushroom clouds. How about you? What do you think?

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