What is it like to be human?

I don’t think many people ask or think much about this question. It’s understandable because of the way people are looked on and treated as a whole on this Earth. If you just casually glanced around you might get the idea that human beings aren’t worth much if anything. Everywhere you look life appears to be as cheap and tawdry as yesterday’s trash; daily it’s brushed aside and tossed out like so much garbage. Millions of men, women and children are murdered in wars and genocides. Most of the world’s populations languish in abject poverty. It is almost more than one can bear.

If you look closely, however, the reality of the human condition is much, much different. Human beings, when you examine them, are exceptionally special creatures. As it states in the Scriptures, God made man just a little lower than the angels. As such you are born with unlimited power and authority; the authority to do both good and evil. You are a being of enormous power and might. You have been given the gift of sentience the ability to feel, perceive and be self aware. You also have a very special gift, the gift of free will. Free will gives you the ability to know right from wrong and the ability to choose. No other creature in the universe has this capacity.

Let’s take a closer look at some of the characteristics we as human beings can choose from. Let’s look at the bad or evil side first. People can be vicious beyond belief. Look at the conduct of humans in any war and you can get a sense of that. Humans can also be cruel beyond measure. Again you don’t need to look very far for confirmation. Yet they can also be compassionate, empathetic and caring beyond what you would expect. Why the difference? The difference has to do with your free will. We, of all God’s creation, have the ability to choose right from wrong and to act on that choice. We can choose to act on our base evil nature or to act contrary to it.

What is the true nature of man? Fundamentally all people are selfish. This may shock some people but it’s all too true. What prompts this selfishness? Human self-interest is always the springboard. In some people this self-interest can completely take over and consume their lives. It is initiated by the drive for power, the drive for money or the drive for control over others. Bring this down to a personal level. Think about all the times you personally engaged in emotional, mental or physical abuse, neglect or cruelty to another human being because of your self-interest. Do you think you haven’t? When was the last time you ignored someone, lied, lusted after someone or you coveted something? We have all done this. What makes us act this way? In all cases it has to do with coveting; wanting or desiring something that belongs to someone else. This is man’s true nature. When God wrote the Ten Commandments it was done to highlight man’s sin nature. The interesting thing about God’s law is that breaking any of the Commandments is always initiated by the act of coveting. Wanting more or better stuff that belongs to someone else.

Humans are also spiritual beings and there are pockets of good. We are the only living creatures that exhibit this spiritual side. You can hear it in our music, in our singing, you can listen to it in our poetry, read it in our literature, and see it in our great works of art. When we exercise it, our spiritual nature is almost transcendent. We exhibit it in mathematics and cosmology by trying to answering the great questions of nature. We also exhibit in in our capacity to engage in the selfless love and caring of others. We can be majestic. Even though many of us choose to rely on our selfish base natures in our daily lives, when we instead decide to use the qualities of our Creator God, our spiritual nature, this is what make us a special creation and just a little lower than the angels.

© Richard Woodling 2013