Friday, February 10, 2012
Being Human -- Writer's Poke #363
I can accept that you’re going to die. You should just deal with it yourself and not bother me about it. On the other hand, I have a much more difficult time accepting that I’m going to die. Can you help me out with some understanding? Some empathy?
Me, die? How can that be? I feel so alive!
Humans have an uncanny ability to adapt, but adapting to our own mortality may be the tougher pill for us to swallow. And yet, under the right circumstances, people face death willingly. Ancient Greeks on the battlefield, for example, would often elect to stand and fight, knowing beyond any doubt that doing so basically ensured an end to their lives. Very seldom did they attempt to escape death on the battlefield, partly because death in battle was seen as honorable.
Ironically, the idea of an honorable death taps into the idea that each of us has a purpose in life. Why is purpose such an important concept to the average human being? Perhaps it’s our attempt to give meaning to mystery. The most fundamental question anyone ever will ask is, “Why are we here?” or “What is it all about?” It’s not something that we probably dwell on consciously for hours each day, but to some extent, the thought is always plaguing us – always there just around the corner of one of our mind’s less travelled roads.
Is purpose a “fiction” that we create? Even if it is, it can still be a purposeful fiction.
Human beings may be no nearer to solving the ultimate mysteries of the universe, but exploring the mystery of how we cope with the ultimate mysteries does bring us closer to understanding what it means to be human.
What does it mean to be human?
“Everything human is pathetic. The secret source of humor itself is not joy but sorrow. There is no humor in heaven.” – Mark Twain