Humanity- Need of the hour

Shonima Malhotra
‘Being human is given. But keeping our
humanity is a choice.’
Human beings are considered to be the best creation of God since they are the only creatures on Earth who have been bestowed with the power to connect with the divine through meditation, prayers and such other means. But myself, being an atheist, look at this from a different perspective. I believe humans to be the best creation of God because of the fact that they have the capability and potential to connect with other living beings and work for their betterment since they can think rationally and differentiate between right and wrong, good and bad. To be precise, they have the ability and competence to express humanity in several ways.
But in the present times, the mindset and value system, especially of the young generation is undergoing a transformation from a philanthropic attitude towards a material centric approach. This surely is a matter of concern and worry. In the quest for materialistic things, people are forgetting and ignoring humanistic values.
As visible in the present scenario, people have forgotten the word ‘Humanity’. To be truer,I think that they have forgotten the very fact that they are humans. How can we expect humanity from them when they do not remember the very basic fact that they are born as humans because humanity itself is an extension of the word human. Unless the word human exists, we cannot add suffix ‘ity’ to it to make it humanity.
Now the question arises ‘What is humanity’? Humanity, as defined by the Oxford Dictionary refers to the ‘quality of being humane and benevolent.’ It defines the precise nature of man, through which he is differentiated from other beings. Humanity is nothing but the act of being helpful to others expecting nothing in return. I have a very simple definition of humanity in my mind. For me to have feelings of love and compassion towards other living beings and treat them as ‘living creatures’is humanity. I very strongly believe that being only spiritual and religious minded is not of any use, if one forgets the very essence of being a human. As has been aptly said, ‘To serve humanity is to serve God.I think this is the punch line and tag line which explains the crux of humanity.In fact, Auguste Comte, the ‘Father of Sociology’ considered humanity to be a religion and gave the concept of ‘Religion of Humanity’. According to him, the object of worship should be mankind and not God. He made “love” and “affection” as the central point of life.
Humanity is the best and most important quality and trait of mankind……..just being a good human being defines you everywhere. Being loving and caring towards all living beings including the minutest living creature on the earth, and extending unconditional love to each and every being on Earth is what makes one an entity truly worthy of being defined as real human being.So, humanity is not just restricted to humans but also includes caring for every living being and the environment we live in.
Sadly, we are caught up in the commercial and consumerist world that leads to immorality and non-humanistic approach. Many of us do not even qualify to call ourselves human beings becauseof our hypocritic behaviour and attitude.The purpose of the humanity is to practice altruism, and to act in the best interests of humanity as a whole.But are we really doing so?On the contrary, we are getting cold-hearted and indifferent towards others. Our intentions are getting apathetic, malevolent and malicious as a result of which we are drifting far away from humanism. I am not short of examples to prove my point. People have enough time to spend in religious places or on mobiles but they don’t have time for their parents and family, they have money to purchase costly stuff or make huge donations but fall short of it when it comes to their parents, they have enough space to keep God’s idols in their homes but lack the same for their parents whom they oust and send in old age homes. Not only this, but, people in different professions have a desire to grab huge salaries but are not ready to fulfil and perform their duties sincerely. Rather, they are practicing corruption in different walks of life without any hesitation.Having wrong and impure intentions in mind and visiting or spending hours in religious places appears futile to me. I consider it more humane to feed a hungry living being rather than offering money to those who already have enough. I feel sorry to say this but it’s a truth that though plants, birds and animals have lesser brains but still they have more emotions and feelings than us. They have a truly caring attitude towards their loved ones and leave no stone unturned to protect them. On the contrary, if we look at the attitude of humans, they are least bothered about their kith and kins, what to talk about others. What matters to them is money not relations. Another example to prove that non- human creatures possess more of so-called humanitarian qualities is that even if you beat a pet, it will still respond you with selfless love, you feed an animal and it will be loyal to you forever. Humans, on the other hand, don’t hesitate to cheat upon their parents who bring them up and try to provide all facilities to them. I strongly feel that in today’s world we see humans but no humanity.
Every living being has a life or soul. So, when we don’t have the power to create a life, what gives us the right to destroy one? What bestows us the right to harm or kill another human being, pluck flowers or make animal sacrifices in the name of religion or otherwise? It is cruelty rather than humanity. I feel that even the theists would agree with me that even religion preaches us to be non- violent and philanthropic in our attitude. So, if we go by religion or otherwise, is making human and animal sacrifices or plucking a flower a non-violent act? By behaving so humans are simply giving a practical shape to the statement ‘Might is right’. Just because being they are more powerful than some othercreatures, they use that power in a negative manner to harm these innocent creatures. Research proves that when we extend our hand to pluck a flower it moves back trying to protect itself but that movement is so gentle that it goes unnoticed. When we hold an animal to kill it, that innocent creature not even knows its fate. But we have become so inhumane and barbaric that the screaming and pains of these gentle creatures simply does not matter to us. So, I would repeat myself here and say that not only in the context of religion but even if we go beyond this context, nothing gives us the right to end a life, be those be equally powerful or less powerful than us.Of what use is the offerings that we make to mark certain special occasions? How can we celebrate happiness by inflicting pain upon others? How can we be so heartless?To prove my point, I will quote an example that if eating non vegetarian food is justified, then why do people shift to vegetarianism during auspicious days or while observing fasts? Some people do not eat egg on Tuesdays. Why so? I mean is eating egg on days expect Tuesday justified to them? An act can be either justified or non- justified. There can be no mid -way. Some of you may have a question that if killing animals is wrong, then even eating plants and vegetables is wrong from that perspective. But to them, I can only answer that by not eating non- vegetarian stuffwe can simply reduce the level of violence that we are committing.
No doubt, there are many great humanitarians who live amongst us.There are ample instances from history also, for e.g., the great Indian poet, Rabindra Nath Tagore, expressed his strong beliefs on humanity and religion in his Nobel prize winning piece, Gitanjali. He delivered that to serve the needy was equivalent to serving the divine power. But, as humans are progressing as a human race into the future, the true essence of humanity is being corrupted slowly. Living in the 21st century where we are advancing to a great extent in material aspect of culture on one side, we are relegating and stooping too low so far as the non -material aspect of culture is concerned. We have forgotten the very purpose of our lives. What is worse is that, in today’s world, it has become a trend to indulge in humanitarian activities not with the real intention of extending help to others so that they could click selfies and post the pictures online. They use charity as a means to endear to the hearts of the people and get popular.
We are in dire need to spread humanity. Infact, humanity should be an integral and inevitable part of our life. The best part is that for expressing humanity, one does not need a hefty bank balance but a soft and giving heart. So, each one of us can express humanity in one’s own minutest possible way.As soon as we understand the importance of humanity in our day-to-day life, the purpose for which we are on Earth is automatically fulfilled.
To conclude, I would only say,’be a human first and strive for humanity and share your life with others as life is all about living for others and serving humanity’.We all need to come together to help other humans, animals, birds and our environment. We must all model genuine empathy and show gratitude to each other and express respect and humanity.
It is in our hands to decide what we are going to give to our next generation- hatred or love- the choice is solely ours.
(The author is Assistant Professor in Sociology Govt Degree College, Sidhra)