I’ve mentioned before how one of the most important questions for the 21st century is, What does it mean to be Human?
As far as we know, at this point in the development of natural sciences, other species do not go against type: inelephant or indolphin or indog, but there are things we see in Humans we do not welcome and dub them inhuman. It’s as if we’re saying, “We know we can do better than this.”
What if our Human journey is about becoming the best our species can be: we are becoming Human?
What if everything you are about – education, work, families and friendships – is an exploration and experimentation of this every day, and then, connecting more in relationships, producing your art, and becoming the best you you can possibly be is the best way to live the one life you have.
Of course, there’s another way of seeing this: through our industrial filter we see some will do better than others, some will have more choice in their lives than others, some will dream and others will get by. It unconsciously inhabits our language and expectations, and sometimes slips out. This morning I listened to excerpts from an audio-diary of what work looked like in the week of a teacher. The phrases which screamed at me were her references to students being of low, middling, or high ability.
Let’s take a step back. If education is about helping young people develop in order to live the rest of their lives in the best and most contributing ways they can, are we unconsciously saying these are low, middling, or high ability Humans?* Streamed for life through our tightly defined subjects, taught and measured in narrow ways?
Although we may want to do better than this within our cultural systems, we know the enabling of every child to thrive in an environment most suitable to them is a complexity we believe to be beyond us at the moment – though, some are beginning to imagine how. Yet, in a world moving towards a mid-century population of nine billion and more, ethnic fragmentation and fundamentalism, possible super-diseases, food shortages, environmental catastrophes, and reducing natural resources, do we have a better alternative than to engage every Human to be the best they can be towards our planet becoming more Human.
And if this sounds species-arrogant, I see becoming more Human involving a deepening understanding of how we are part of the environments we inhabit – our “sister Mother Earth” – and the best chance our planet and other species have is for us to become Human.
(Whilst Daniel Kahneman is calling for priming studies to be more rigorous, the evidence appears to be that what we are led to believe about ourselves affects our behaviour.)