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The human race drained of all colour

6 December 2013 04:42 am - 0     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

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By Fr. Egerton Perera, sj

 Is the human race under grave threat of extinction? What will it be? A Nuclear World War Three or another Great Flood or Ice Age that will wipe out the people from the face of the Earth? Many concerned people have described how imminent these threats are.

For example, “In no other period of history has the biosphere been made so inimical to all living beings as ours.” - Arnold Toynbee

“Probably every generation sees itself as charged with remaking the world. Mine, however, knows that its task will not be merely to remake the world. Its task is even greater: to keep the world from destroying itself.” - Albert Camus

Today, people do not ‘tread lightly on the earth’. Forests are being devastated with impunity and with them many species of flora and fauna. Fossil fuels are being consumed irresponsibly, causing unprecedented climatic changes affecting the lives of people all over the world. Human life is cheaply valued and cheaply taken away.
As I understand it however, the greatest threat to the human race lies elsewhere.  It lies in a virus, a cancer, eating away, insidiously, rapaciously, at our very ‘humanness’. A virus that makes us human beings, less and less ‘human’,  more and more ‘inhuman’

I identify this virus as the reversal or loss of those perennial ‘human’ values that make all of us, ‘human’. Human values such as love, compassion, concern, kindness, forgiveness, justice and fair-play, truthfulness, honesty and accountability, a sense of pride in just being human beings, a respect for life and the world in which we live, are fast becoming forgotten things. Is it incorrect to say that ‘human’ values such as these are being replaced by, and sacrificed at the altar of, their opposites? The incidence of this virus, in some sub-species or other, is evident everywhere, alas, in every country, among every people. It is manifest
  •  in the shameless manufacture of the means of mass destruction, which has become a thriving source of income to many; or
  • in some by drone killing;
  • in others by the dumping of nuclear waste on someone else’s land or country;  or
  • in socio-economic structures of injustice  -  in every country, every religion, among every people -- that breed both greed among the haves and violence among the have-nots…. or more commonly, 4 in the lust of people to have more and more of whatever, and never mind how or from whom.  
Do such actions make us more human or less human? Do they not deprive us of that which is our birthright - our humanness? Indeed, is it not true to say, ‘Ape miniskama pirihi gihin.’, we have been drained of all colour,  and of the very ‘humanness’ that makes us human?

The consequences of this situation are legion.  For example,

Human life has become ‘mechanical’, especially among workaholics and ‘high achievers’. They are so busy, so engrossed, with their work, or so driven by a compulsion to achieve, that they live in isolation, however much they may be surrounded by people.  For to them, relationships, even with their parents, spouses, children, or peers do not matter and are secondary to the work they are engaged in.  Does this enhance their ‘humanness’, or not?  
Human beings have become selfish - thinking only of themselves, living only for themselves, for the ruling principle of life among many today is - greed. Grab as much as you can for yourself, ‘hodin ho narakin’, by fair means or foul. And so a few have far too much while the many have far too little. And wherever there is such an unfair and unjust division of peoples, there is conflict, often violent armed conflict – and people live wallowing in feelings like anger, hatred, and rebellion, and nursing murder in their hearts.

Thomas Carlyle has said, “Perhaps, the greatest tragedy of our lives is not what we have suffered, but what we have missed.”This perhaps is the saddest consequence of living lives bereft of ‘humanness’. Life is a banquet. But many in the world today are missing out on the innumerable marvels to be seen, admired, and nourished by, marvels that fill our hearts and lives with lasting peace, happiness, human warmth and love.

Oh! Why do we spend our efforts, our resources and our lives, on that which is not true nourishment, on that which cannot truly satisfy?

Is it incorrect to say that we have all breathed of this poison, all been afflicted by this virus at some time or other , in some way or other, to some extent or other? And so, none of us can point fingers of accusation at others, none dare stone another for this default; none can pull out the speck in someone else’s eye, when there is a log in our own, yes?   

Nor can we, individually or in small groups, radically change, with the urgency it demands, those unjust structures that are the cause of much of the ‘inhumanness’ among us.

Then what can we do, what must we do, now? There is a challenge, a responsibility,  for rulers as well as their people, for religious leaders and the flocks they shepherd, for the teacher and the taught, for parents and even their children, indeed, for every human person  in whatever capacity, wherever they may be, to pluck our this virus at its roots, free the human race from its own inhumanity, and become, and help others too to become, more and more truly and fully ‘human’, in all its beauty, richness and grandeur. It is an urgent call to everyone to root out those values, qualities and attitudes in us, that are ‘inhuman’ and acquire those values, qualities and attitudes that will make us more and more fully human’. This is something even a child could begin to do, especially if parents will blaze the trail for them. The more we succeed in achieving this, the greater the hope that we could heal the world of its insanity and save the human race.  

Where do we begin?  Where can we begin?  Where else but with ourselves? For, this is something every one of us can do and must do to help ourselves and all others to live a more ‘human’ life. Not however with our words alone. Rather, with the example of our lives, leading from the front, so that all may see in us, the marvel, the grandeur, of being truly and fully ‘human’ and be touched, captivated and transformed by the ‘good news’ of our lives. What a multiplier effect that would have, for the progress and development of people, what an amazing grace that would be for the world.
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