I wrote this essay for a class I took about Gandhi in 2012. I graduated as a Humanities major at San Francisco State University in 2013 and still reflect on the the discussions we had in this class. I am proud to say that I got an A on this paper and as a ~reward~ I also got to read it aloud to my class mates (insert sarcasm font). I am terrified of public speaking, so this was actually a very bittersweet situation. Anyway, I thought that it was a fun read and makes you think a little. Enjoy!
What Makes Us Human
Humans, Homo sapiens, people; there are many names that describe us as a species. We are the top of the food chain, intelligent, capable of speech and complex communication, and so much more. The question of what it means to be a human has innumerable answers. Each person has their own unique set of beliefs and opinions on the way that life should be lived. Our emotions, abilities, and reactions are qualities that generally are unique to humans. As a member of the mammal class, we are the most intellectually developed animals. Humans have grown and developed into prosperous societies and communities throughout history at an ever changing and remarkable speed. The characteristics of each individual person on this planet are unique and diverse. It is the notion that each person has the capability to live their lives in any way they want, go anywhere, and make choices that makes life and humanity what it is. The meaning of being human is the characteristics that drive us. The will to live, thrive, love, and hope makes us a species that is like no other on this planet.
The question of what it means to be human brings up the contrasts of what a human is not. One answer could be that we are not wild animals. Although we belong to the same classification as a wide range of animals, we are immensely different than them. Our capability to communicate by speech and have conscious thoughts and ideas that we can share and implement, are just a few traits that are unique to humans. I work at a veterinary hospital in the east bay as a Registered Veterinary Technician (RVT), or animal nurse. I share each day of my life caring for and working with many different types of animals. I am an animal lover, caregiver, and owner. The animals that I see and handle bring a unique and fascinating insight into the bonds between humans and animals. People care for their pets and love them as an equal member of their family. Our pets rely on us for their basic needs for food and shelter and are capable of giving unconditional love no matter what the circumstances are. I look to many animals in envy and for inspiration to become a person who is kind, happy, carefree, joyful, and appreciative of life in general, just like the way our pets live each day. Although we look at our beloved pets as irreplaceable parts of our families, we never look at them as equals. This line is what distinguishes the distance between humans and animals. We as animals are creatures that are ever benefiting from our intelligence and inventions. We have distanced ourselves from animals, domestic and wild, by our growing knowledge and creations that have advanced our society and changed the way we live in the world. Even though only a few genes separate us from most animals, we don’t always think of ourselves one of them. Our exceptional brain is what gives us intelligence and is the sole trait that makes us human.
The characteristics that make humans unique to every other living thing on Earth, is our strong will to live and thrive and the ability to continuously adapt, change, hope, and love. We have powerful emotions that are capable of driving people to do anything to get what they want in life. Terrifying and catastrophic incidents happen every day all over the world. People have the ability and strength to overcome the challenges that come about from such affairs. In desperate times people are capable of coming together and accomplishing great feats to overcome devastating situations. Gandhi was a great and inspiring person who’s theories and practices go beyond what most people believe they are able to achieve. There is conflict, anger, war, and violence happening all throughout the world. Whether soldiers fighting overseas or family members arguing within our own households, the challenges of living a loving and peaceful life can be a difficult act for most people. Even with all of the violence in the world, we are still able to live our lives and cope with the difficult situations that may arise. People are able to live through intense pain, suffering, and illness with the love and support of others. With the will to survive and to continue to live on and have a future, individuals can overcome impossible feats. We as humans are complicated beings that are capable of infinite amount of accomplishments. Our capacity to influence, motivate, and help each other and ourselves, is an aspect that makes us exceptional.
There are an enormous amount of qualities that give meaning to being a human. Being human means that I have a choice of what I want to do and how I want to live my life. There are many obstacles that can get in the way of the dreams and plans in each person’s life. People are capable of doing horrific and devastating things to the world, but we also are able to change the world to be a better and more positive place. Gandhi was and remains to be a model that everyone could look to in the hopes of making this world and each of our lives happy and peaceful. Humans are a species that grow and change each and every day. With the theories and practice that Gandhi has left behind, humanity still has much to learn and grow to become communities that can live in harmony and goodwill.