Tag Archives: Humanity

Human beings; neither angels nor demons…

I’ve been thinking on something recently; and that something is the tendency of humans to either put other humans on pedestals, or else so far in the dirt as to not warrant a second thought.  We tend to bestow some kind of odd sainthood on some, whilst having extreme negative feelings toward others.  I believe that we should aim for a realistic balance.

There are people that we like, that we love…and sometimes we can put them up on a pedestal.  There are people that we somehow believe don’t struggle with this earthly life like everyone else.  These thoughts can, and do, cause problems.  First, the person up on the pedestal can get rather tired of it.  Secondly, if we put someone up on the pedestal, that means they can fall off, instead of letting them be on even ground like everyone else…we humans have enough trouble maintaining our balance as it is (even on our knees sometimes).  Adding the extra burden unrealistic expectations on someone isn’t a good idea.  It’s also got to get really tempting to jump off that pedestal.

Also, those people that we seem to think don’t have problems and struggles in life are sometimes neglected because we all expect them to be the strong ones.  Let’s face it; every human is a sinner, everyone has troubles, everyone needs friends, everyone need someone to talk  things over with.  We are all hurtling around the sun on the same ball of mud as everyone else, and life is life.  We are all in desperate need of Christ, and even when we become a part of The Church, even when we become believers, we are still human beings, and in fact that joining of The Church should be something special indeed betwixt all our brothers and sisters.  We believers need to make sure we are there for each other.

The danger in painting someone as “perfect” in our own minds is that no one is perfect except Christ.  Therefore, all humans will disappoint us at some point.  That’s not a pessimistic statement at all, just a statement of fact.  Even if it is something small, we do disappoint others.  People in those phases of infatuated love often think the object of that infatuation is perfect…then it really hits the fan when they find out they are not.  Kids often have an idealistic version of “parents” in their heads and it can be a punch in the gut when they finally figure out their parents are just as human as everyone else.  Same thing goes with parents and their view of their own kids.

On the flip side, we sometimes view someone we dislike or are mad at as something other than human.  The truth it, that person is in the image of God, just as we are.  They are going to face the same types of things in this life as us (like death and taxes…and life and taxes).  We mentally throw mud on others, when it might do us good to remember their humanity.  And, yes, I’m talking to myself here too; I tend to do the exact same thing, and it would be very hard to change.

I think it is interesting that when someone does something truly heinous, we often term it “inhuman.”  The scary thing is that it is indeed human.  Sometimes we don’t like to face human faults because it reminds us of our own…or, rather, it reminds us of what humans are actually capable of. It adds a lot of meaning to the phrase, “There but for the grace of God…” or for the smaller things we should actually be able to connect with the person, because we’ve all sinned. I guess the thing to remember is that there is a person involved in those heinous events…not “only” demons or Satan, but a willing flesh and blood human is indeed involved.

We are human beings, and being human means we are all sinners and we will all have our faults.  We will all sin, without Christ, we are all deserving of judgment.  We are all also made in the image of God…each one of us.  Elevating people to “angel” status, or shoving them in a pit to “demon” status robs them of the fact that we all have to face; we are a bunch of humans dealing with a bunch of other humans.  Praise God, He’s above all things, and still deals with us too…or else we’d really be screwed.  I also praise Him because when He does the elevating, He holds us up in His hand and He begins to change us and work on us…it’s the only way any of us have a chance.

“You come of the Lord Adam and the Lady Eve,” said Aslan. “And that is both honour enough to erect the head of the poorest beggar, and shame enough to bow the shoulders of the greatest emperor in earth.” – CS Lewis, Prince Caspian

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People as Blessings…

Just random thoughts about life, nothing too deep (no, you don’t need a shovel).  Many times, at least I’ve found, blessings come in the form of people, and if we aren’t on the lookout for them, they can pass us right by without our acknowledgment.

In life, there are people we will know for as long as we live, or as long as they live.  Death separates some of us for a time, and that’s when blessings can hurt the most…the separation from someone we dearly love, even if we know they’ve gone to a better place and that we’ll join them someday, is rough.  But, the fact remains of their blessing status in our lives.

I’ve lost all four of my beloved grandparents already, and they all truly were blessings given to me (not me alone, but you’ll have to pardon my self-centeredness in this post).  Is the pain at their loss a small price to pay for all the wonderful times and love given in life? Absolutely.

Then, there are those who come into our lives for a short while.  Strangers can even fall into this category.  I remember one day in grad school (that’s grad school, not grade school) that I was walking outside and had something heavy on my mind.  Apparently it showed, and I had to have had my “burdened” face on…well, a guy whose name I might never know passed me by, grinned, and said “smile.”  It made me laugh, and in that moment was he not a blessing?  It was years ago, yet I still remember it, and it still makes me laugh.

Then there are those that fall somewhere in between; friends, close and distant, that add something to our lives for varying amounts of time; teachers, class mates, students, baristas (you know, those that make your espresso), supervisors, bosses, co-workers, people we “meet” on the ‘net…  I just think we need to remember that blessings come in many different ways, many different forms.

That doesn’t mean it has to be any big mystical thing, but, as an example, I need reminded that my students are each individuals making their way through life and that God, for whatever reason, has brought them through my room, perhaps just for a semester.  I do count several of my present and former students as friends, and love recognizing a human connection between…humans.  Perhaps if I can keep in mind the kindnesses done to me, as a student, I can try to give some of that kindness to them as a teacher.  Sometimes it’s a listening ear, or a joke, or a piece of candy…little things are indeed important.

There’s no doubt about the other side of the coin; there are some people that tear others down, belittle, and who hurt us; sometimes physically, emotionally, mentally, etc… where there are humans, in this life, there will be that type as well.  That makes the others, the little moments of kindness, compassion, and humor all the more precious.

In an age where a lot of connections are made over electronic devices; such as cell phones, and the internet, it can be a rare thing to stop and really recognize that others are flesh and blood, have feelings and lives and pain and joy, just like we do.  Humans are humans, not perfect, especially around each other…however, I do acknowledge that there are humans in my life past, present, and future that add something, or have added something meaningful to my existence that may not even be aware of it…that’s both a happy, and a sad thought, is it not?

(Hmmm….maybe you did need a shovel after all… 😉 )

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Human worth…

I got an urge to watch The Last Samurai on DVD yesterday, so went and rented the two disc special edition.  I’m a huge fan of any “extras” on a DVD and am a commentary junkie.  Watching the movie with the commentary by director Edward Zwick gave me the nudge to write this post.

How did the commentary do that?  Because Zwick was talking, in several parts of the movie, how the action scenes made him nervous while filming them.  There are stunt men, horses, extras, the “stars” of the movie, all running and “fighting” and screaming, and Zwick makes a few comments that just struck me as “wrong,” or odd.

Here all these people are doing the scene, and Zwick makes comments (in paraphrase) like, “When you have your stars out there like this it is really nerve-wracking,” or “what a risk it is having our big name actors out there, think if one would get hurt!”  I don’t think he consciously new what he was implying, but it was clear to me what had to be going on in the back of his mind.

The question becomes this; “So, it is worse if a “big name” actor gets hurt or killed than if a mere extra takes a hit, earns a scar, or gets trampled, that would be much less of a blow?”  Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not surprised by this attitude, nor am I judging Zwick for what he said, or unconsciously implied…but I do think it is something that humans have got to watch out for; placing a greater “worth” on other humans for no other reason than they are famous, or rich, or good looking, or their loss would hurt our bottom line, etc…

I praise God that human worth isn’t based upon the worth that we humans place upon each other.  As another example; Bernie Mac died recently and it was all over the news, which is indeed a sad thing…but, it is important to remember that people die from pneumonia every day, hard working people, funny people, mean people, old people, young people, yet we never see their faces all over national news…no wonder some humans let fame become their “god.”

No, God sets our worth, and humans are indeed “worth” a lot to God; He created us in His image, He has dealt with and guided mankind from the beginning, He Himself “struck up a tent in human flesh,” became one of us, dwelt amongst us…lived a perfect life on our behalf, died for us, and rose for us.  All so that we could be with Him.

Most humans recognize the differences between mere animals and human beings.  Even most non-believers admit that there is a difference; for example, if they had to choose between saving a dog and a human child, they would save the human child.  The only logical explanation for this, the only meaningful explanation, stems from the fact that there is indeed a God, and He values us; each of us.

God is no respecter of persons; He doesn’t care if you are filthy rich, or dirt poor.  He doesn’t care if you didn’t graduate high school, or if you have several Ph.D.’s, whether you are tall or short, good at sports, or bad at spelling, whether you are a great actor, or never even starred in a high school play…  He’s all about relationship, and yes that includes acknowledging His position as God, King, Lord, Saviour, etc… but it is about more than that.  He is with each of us, and give each of us the chance to be close to Him through His Son, to better ourselves through His Son, and His Spirit.  Our worth stems from His worth of us, and His creation of us, and His willingness to have a true relationship with us!

John 15:12 This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you. 13 Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. 14 Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you. 15 Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you.

As with Morality, which logically only gets its meaning from God, human worth works the same way.  And, don’t ever think that you are not worth something to God; He numbers the very hairs on our heads.  Think about that.  He, the Creator of all things, is with us, and cares for us!

Luke 12:6 Are not five sparrows sold for two farthings, and not one of them is forgotten before God? 7 But even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not therefore: ye are of more value than many sparrows.


Filed under Philosophy, Theology