What does it mean to really be human?
We have been around for many centuries and yet finding a collective answer to what being human is still seems to be a mystery. And while there isn’t a step-by-step guidebook to being human, most can agree that kindness, empathy, love and support are among the pillars of what it means to be human.
But if the answer to being human is so straightforward, why do many find it hard to grasp their humanity?
The more I think about humanity and look around, the more I notice that the world feels less humane than it did a couple of years ago. It feels like amidst all the advancements and work hard culture, we have lost touch with our humanity.
Almost like being ahead, living the best life and doing what the world tells us to do has become more important than being real and human. But if you really think about it, we have been losing what makes us human even before advancements and technology started taking over our lives.
It almost seems like technology and the digital world are merely scapegoats used to hide the reality that we chose to walk away from what makes us human. Maybe it was unintentional, but nevertheless, we made this choice. Because the thing is from the minute we are born, we are taught to slowly rid ourselves from what makes us human.
We are told to put on a strong face, toughen up, not be too sensitive and to never wear our hearts on our sleeves, because otherwise we will be thought of as dumb and too kind. Men are not allowed to cry or show emotions, otherwise they are weak. Women are not supposed to smile at strangers, help a guy out or be too kind because otherwise they will be labeled as cheap and flirtatious.
But why is that? When did tapping into our humanity make us less, and why is no one talking about it?
One interview in particular made me realize how underrated and underspoken about this topic is. In his interview with Anas Bukhash from ABtalks, Bassel Khaiat shed light on how the world perceives being kind as a bad thing. In fact, he talks about how most people opt to say حرام طيب, an Arabic phrase that translates to “poor him, he is kind,” when talking about a kind person.
Bassel then asks “Why would the word ‘kind’ be connected to the word ‘poor’?”
The fact that he was able to highlight this major red flag in our society while millions of us are still using this phrase oblivious to what we are normalizing and feeding our minds really made me want to pause and reevaluate how humane we really are.
I mean kindness is one of the most important pillars of humanity and if we are labeling those who are kind as poor or naive, then what other parts of our humanity are we killing? And what does that mean to our world, will there come a time when we are all ridden of everything that makes us human?
Being human isn’t only about what we consciously choose to do from kindness and helping others, it also has to do with what we are subconsciously doing and not doing. When we listen and say things we are unconsciously contributing to dehumanizing our world.
There is so much power in the words we use, and when we splatter words around without weighing them, we are normalizing phrases like “poor him, he is kind” and telling future generations that kindness is a weakness and should be avoided.
What we feed our minds becomes our reality. Therefore, it is imperative that we become more aware of the words we say and hear so that we can save whatever humanity we have left in us.
However, choosing to be kind and the bigger person does not mean you should not set healthy boundaries to protect yourself from being taken for granted or taken advantage of. You can be human but also kind to yourself while you are at it.
To me being human is all about experiencing the different shades of life with an open and kind heart. It is about helping others, making real connections and leaving this world better and kinder than the one I came into.
What about you, what does it mean to be human to you in a time when we are told to move away from it?
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