The species that all living human beings on this planet belong to is Homo sapiens. During a time of dramatic climate change 300,000 years ago, Homo sapiens evolved in Africa. Like other early humans that were living at this time, they gathered and hunted food, and evolved behaviours that helped them respond to the challenges of survival in unstable environments. Modern humans (Homo sapiens), the species that we are, means ‘wise man’ in Latin. It implies that as a species, we humans have been designed to be social beings. Nevertheless, being born as a ‘human being’ does not necessarily make one humane. It is a virtue that needs to be developed and nurtured by a person to fully realise the gift of life.
“The greatest gift we have is the gift of life” – humans are not the only living beings on earth and yet we as a species are distinctive. We possess the ability to think, communicate, perceive and act according to changing circumstances. It means that we also have the qualities of being sympathetic, compassionate, helpful or in other words, humane. To be humane is to show kindness, care, and sympathy towards others, especially those who are suffering. However, many incidents ever since historic times have revealed that being humane is not guaranteed in every human. Greed, power and want for more often makes us forget the importance of this very intrinsic virtue. Human nature is not a jump away from being humane. It is a journey of sensible steps which have to be great in number and chosen in accordance with wisdom as time goes by.
It is humane when we understand and acknowledge whatever the creator of the universe has created has an essence of natural balance. A compassionate and humane approach strengthens this natural balance. We understand the positive value of every being and respect it. The journey of a meaningful life takes a long time to be firmly established. How can one develop this quality?
Begin humane is to assume the responsibility endowed by our human condition. It means seeing the world through human eyes from a human perspective. It means accepting our role and responsibility as stewards of the animals and our planet. Needy and underprivileged people of society should be uplifted to enjoy the same standard of living or rights that are deservedly prevalent. A person having compassion doesn’t find sacrifices as giving up something valued, rather the person considers it mandatory to instil peace in the community. This responsiveness comes with maturity, experience and wisdom. This journey towards being humane requires being mindful of the process of doing something, which means our actions. How our actions affect others should be our primary objective to be taken care of while performing them.
We often hear about acts of cruelty carried out by humans against animals, plants, and even fellow humans. But on the other hand, there are also many examples of humane deeds performed by men and women worldwide. Perhaps the most well-known example is of Mother Teresa who was the founder of the ‘Order of the Missionaries of Charity’, a Roman Catholic congregation of women dedicated to helping the poor. Considered one of the 20th century’s greatest humanitarians, she was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979. Infact, the recent Covid-19 pandemic has taught us more about the importance of humanity than ever before. Man has been able to leave his imprints on earth in many ways. We have discovered fire, tamed the environment for our selfish purposes, technology has allowed us to reach outer space, and communication is at its best. And yet, the pandemic taught us that all these glorious achievements become meaningless without humanity. Development doesn’t necessarily mean human development. With experience, we understand what is right or wrong and what really contributes to human growth and development. Being humane creates a sense of responsibility in an individual. It leads to inclusive growth. In today’s world of selfishness being humane maintains a balance. Being humane is to understand the positive value of every being and respect it.
Material success can make a human achieve luxuries in life, but being humane and having compassion is what can bring true peace to one’s life. We need to recognise this true meaning of being a human. Being ‘humane’ is the best way to spend one’s life as a ‘human being’.
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