what does it mean to be human?19 Sep 2019
krista tippett’s closing interview question for years has been something along the lines of: “given your line of work, what have you learned about what it means to be human?” or sometimes it’s just straight up: “what do you think it means to be human?”
the variety of answers is amazing and i love them all. well, most of them. anyway, i have been stewing on my own answer for a long time and i think i have a first draft. but it requires a little pre-amble:
The Thanksgiving Address reminds us that duties and gifts are two sides of the same coin. Eagles were given the gift of far sight, so it is their duty to watch over us. Rain fulfills its duty as it falls, because it was given the gift of sustaining life. What is the duty of humans? If gifts and responsibilities are one, then asking “What is our responsibility?” is the same as asking “What is our gift?”
— robin wall kimmerer, braiding sweetgrass
i love that framing: duties and gifts are two sides of the same coin.
and so when i think about what it means to be human, i am more deeply thinking “what about humans is our unique gift/responsibility?”
and lately, i’ve been thinking a lot about the mind and consciousness, both individual and collective (mostly due to gibrán). and while i believe humans aren’t the only beings on earth to have consciousness, what i think is unique about humans is that our consciousness is able to be aware of the gifts/duties of all other beings.
so that’s my answer to the question. what i think it means to be human is to be conscious of the gifts/duties of all other life.
and if that’s the case, the duty side of that gift is… well… i’ll get back to you on that one. ^_^’
ps - i have all my highlights from this book posted over here
words / writing / post-processing
304w / 10m / 6min