Being human is quite strange. We’re so influenced by environment, by one another, by ideas that might take root in the mind and grow. It’s truly as if “life” in all its forms enfolds us, leaves its mark, then sends us on our way (Notes One). How are we to deal with that?
Because, surely, there’s not “one way” to be human? We’re all so unique and no one narrative can yet encompass the whole world – any story told could be retold from any number of perspectives. Somewhere, maybe, there “is” a story that can handle us all rightly, but for now it’s not seeming so close to being told.
In the meantime, education’s apparently this place of correcting and shoring things up. We all have ideas of what society should be, the people and attributes needed to fill it, and that’s seemingly finding its way into the realm of learning (Notes Two). So many plans, projects and priorities shoehorned into this space, clamouring for attention. All being human, we – perhaps rightly – all have something to say on the matter.
Of course, it makes sense from a planning perspective: models of industry, social structure, and healthy human function all lead us to work back toward childhood to plant our seeds there. Taking current personal or collective struggles as starting points, we deconstruct them to develop theories of “what went wrong” and “how to redress it”.
But do the same conditions ever repeat themselves in life? Are we quite sure our analysis identified all the variables and our conclusions safely encompass all possible individual scenarios? Might we not, with the best intentions, actually be creating a raft of other problems by jumping into things this way?
These are questions without foregone conclusions. We all have “concerns” that truly do matter: we want to help others not experience the difficulties we’ve had, to eradicate suffering or prejudice from society, to have the world filled with more considerate, harmonious, inclusive wisdom. But is this the way to achieve that?
It’s essentially the question of education and what we hope to achieve by it (Notes Three). Now that external knowledge is easily accessible, expending energy memorising limited, ever-changing “facts” is perhaps a misuse of time. Looking to a future where mechanisation will likely outstrip human capacities in any number of fields, what will our lives become?
Maybe modern life’s simply shaking up all it means to be human? Knowing where we’ve come from, paths taken, challenges we’ve overcome and those we still face, seems undeniably valuable though – the sense of keeping in mind this journey from limitation to insight, as we’ve sought the best ways to organise our lives together.
Beyond “fitting into” the world as it is, seeing how and why it came to be that way is surely part of all it means to be human? Understanding enough of where our paths have left us, yet somehow feeling confident enough to pick up those reins to make good decisions for the future.
Notes and References:
Note 1: What it is to be human
Note 1: Personal archaeology
Note 1: The sense of having a worldview
Note 1: The struggle with being alive
Note 2: Do we need meaning?
Note 2: What you’re left with
Note 2: Problems & the thought that created them
Note 2: Different places, different ways
Note 2: Can others join you?
Note 3: The world we’re living in
Note 3: Can we manage all-inclusive honesty?
Note 3: Complication of being human