Sunday, May 01, 2011

Human Beings vs. Human Doings

I wrote about doing the other day.   Sometimes, I find myself doing a lot.  Today was a day when I had several activities to which I wanted to attend.  But they were all manageable, and in between, I had some down time.

I am sure you have heard this before:  We are human beings, not human doings.  That can be applied in more than one way.  We do not always need to be doing anything.  We should allow down time so we can appreciate the world around, including other people, the flora and fauna of the world, the beauty and scenery around us, whether created by the supreme being, his universe, or by humankind.

Many of us place no value in our basic existence. We identify ourselves by various means:  how we are related to someone, where we live, what we do for employment, what we accomplish.  Those traits are all important factors in expressing who we are, and help to distinguish one person from another.  But those factors imply or relate directly to doing.  They do no relate the message that I am who I am, and have value as a human being, just because I am alive.

For those of us who can accept this message, it makes the rest of our life have a different meaning.  If I can no longer do what I do, be in a relationship that I want, have the material things I want, I am no less a person, and have no less value.

If we remember to think this way, it reminds us what we have been taught as Christians, by our Lord, that whatever we do to the least of our brothers, we do to the Lord.  It reminds us that no matter how dire the circumstances in which we find ourselves, we have value as a human being because we are alive.  And, because of that value, we have a responsibility to live our life to the best of our ability to do so, no matter the circumstances in which we find ourselves.

Although the United States Delcaration of Independence says "all men are created equal" it does not say we are all created the same.  Equal implies with the equal opportunity to strive for the unalienable rights with which the Declaration says we are endowed.  The Declaration does not say we all have equal talents and abilities to undertake that effort, nor will we achieve equal results.  We just have equal rights to be alive and live a human beings.

We ignore the lesser amongst us too often.  Their being means that they deserve our respect and dignified attention as do those with great wealth, power, prestige and fame or notoriety. We just forget that too often.  This is not a lesson to remember just at Christmas time, when we traditionally reach out to the lesser amongst us.  And, it is a lesson we should call to mind at Easter, when we celebrate the miracle of Christ's resurrection. 

But, it is primarily a lesson we should call to mind every day, when we see someone in lesser circumstances as ourselves.  Not to appreciate how much better off we are than someone else, but to look within, and see what we can do to offer that person some recognition of that person's worth as a human being. It may be a kind word, a blessing, a smile, an acknowledgement of their personhood, or it may be some sort of material help or assistance. It does not have to be much, just something to say "you are, so you have value."

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