Guest Post: Add the "E": Becoming a Humane Being

Image courtesy of takomabibelot
via Creative Commons.
This guest post is by Lauren Allison, an IHE M.Ed. student and a 5th grade teacher at the Discovery School in Indiana.
 

We are born human. By luck of the draw our DNA spiraled together a set of chromosomes, copied from our parents, which put us in a position of assumed superiority on this planet. A planet that in no way belongs to us, it has, and hopefully will, continue long after we are gone.

If we are born human, then how do we become humane? What does that “e” cost us? Surely it must be incredibly expensive, given the number of individuals who choose to live inhumanely. Or perhaps the price of the “e” is rather inexpensive, even free, but human beings are simply unaware of its existence. Maybe they didn’t watch Wheel of Fortune as a child, and are not familiar with the concept of buying a vowel. Or maybe, like so many things in our lives, the “e” is simply overlooked because we are inundated with too much information, too many images, and not enough time or means to process what is before us. It could be that cost is inconsequential, for there are plenty of things human beings are willing to spend their money on that serve no benefit, right no wrong, and help no one. So the question is, what will it take to become humane? A word that by definition is something human beings are capable of.

Society at its core is not a fixed constant. While the current status quo may have persisted for many years, society is not impervious to change. It was not long ago that there was no Internet, no iPads, no flat screen TVs, and it did not take long for them to weave their way into our daily lives. Arguably it’s much easier to convince people that they need an iPad, than it is to convince them that they need to be humane. But it doesn’t need to be this way. If we can get members of society to accept that being humane is an asset to their daily lives -- not a hindrance -- then it will spread quickly. It can begin as simply as making others aware of the positive things that they are doing in their lives or that are happening in society, exposing them to the fact that reality does not have to mean inhumanity. A step toward a humane society begins with the awareness that we are capable of change.

We live in a corporate world. We are products of consumption, desire, and instant gratification. We have come to expect certain things out of this world we have created, and it will never be possible to convince the masses to break down everything that they have worked to build-up. We must not focus on tearing down, but instead focus on reframing. We need not create further destruction to create change. We must force businesses to reframe their practices by making the public aware that there are better alternatives to the pathway we have paved with destruction. We must expose the innate desire of people, the desire to help others, to avoid suffering, to be innovative and creative. We must help businesses see the power in models such as Muhammad Yunus’s social business model. We must start small and work outward. We cannot tear down a corporation, but we can educate and change the views of the masses, leaving corporations no option but to change their practices. When whole cities see the power of living more humanely, when they catch on to the ease with which life can be more fulfilling, it won’t take convincing for them to spread the word.

We must also acknowledge the power of what is “cool”; we must accept that while we feel strongly that something should be done because it is meaningful, making something “cool” goes a long way to making something stick in today’s society. We must embrace advertising and popular culture for their power to raise the level of consciousness of others. We must appeal to the children of our society, because they are the future business owners or corporate tycoons. If we can help them to see the “coolness” of being humane, then perhaps they grow up to be social entrepreneurs who care for their communities as opposed to tycoons who care for their stock portfolios. By helping to make cultural change appealing, by giving others the opportunity to feel the rush of a new way of thinking, we will be one step closer to lasting results.

There are myriad ways in which the planet has reached this level of inhumanity, which means that there will be no one way in which it can be fixed. It will take millions of little changes, millions of small successes and millions of children born in a world that is more accepting than that of their grandparents was. The process will not happen over night, and we must be prepared to help those who struggle.

A change in society is not something we really notice until we look back. Like watching a child grow, we don’t really notice it on a daily basis. We see the slow growth daily and may only notice it in passing, but when someone sees that child for the first time in a year, their reaction is one of shock and awe at how much that child has grown. We live within this society everyday, making it hard to see the growth slowly taking shape. However, when we look back, or see the change with fresh eyes, we realize that great strides have been made. With continued effort, education, and awareness, there will be no option but for change to continue to grow, until one day we look around and realize that we are no longer simply human, but we are humane.


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