On Becoming Human

Published: April 18, 2012

By Jim Lichtman
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Sometimes we can be so focused on the details of life that we forget to look at the bigger picture. I was re-reading portions of peace activist David Krieger’s book “Hope in a Dark Time: Reflections on Humanity’s Future,” (Capra Press,2003) and was reminded and inspired by a larger purpose.


To be human is to recognize the cultural perspectives that bind us to tribe, sect, religion, or nation, and to rise above them. It is to feel the pain of the dispossessed, the downtrodden, the refugee, the starving child, the slave, the victim.

To be human is to break the ties of cultural conformity and groupthink, and to use one’s own mind. It is to recognize good and evil, and to choose good. It is to consider with the heart. It is to act with conscience.

To be human is to be courageous. It is to choose the path of compassion. It is to sacrifice for what is just. It is to break the silence. It is to be an unrelenting advocate of human decency and human dignity.

To be human is to breathe with the rhythm of life, and to recognize our kinship with all forms of life. It is to appreciate every drop of water. It is to feel the warmth of the sun, and to marvel at the beauty and expanse of the night sky. It is to stand in awe of who we are and where we live. It is to see the Earth with the eyes of an astronaut.

To be human is to be aware of our dependence upon the whole of the universe, and of the miracle that we are. It is to open our eyes to the simple and extraordinary beauty that is all about us. It is to live with deep respect for the sacred gift of life. It is to love.

To be human is to seek to find ourselves behind our names. It is to explore the depths and boundaries of our existence. It is to learn from those who have preceded us, and act with due concern for those who will follow us.

To be human is to plant the seeds of peace and nurture them. It is to find peace and make peace. It is to help mend the web of life. It is to be a healer of the planet.

To be human is to say an unconditional NO to warfare, and particularly to all weapons of mass destruction. It is to take a firm stand against all who profit from warfare and its preparation.

To be human is not always to succeed, but it is always to learn. It is to move forward despite the obstacles.

We are all born with the potential to become fully human. How we choose to live will be the measure of our humanness. Civilization does not assure our civility. Nor does being born into the human species assure our humanity. We must find our own path to becoming human.

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