Have you ever really lost your faith in humanity? In other words, have you ever watched an Internet video about a few Arctic seal-beaters, then lost hope in the entire human race? Have you ever quasi-skimmed through a tertiary-source article about a violent, tyrannical, genocidal dictator, and suddenly you went through an existential crisis and proceeded to post on Facebook that you’ve given up on every human who’s ever walked on this planet?
I haven’t. I don’t think this raises a question of optimism versus pessimism, of glasses that are half-full or half-empty. The phrase, “losing faith in humanity” carries with it an inherent meaning that is misunderstood by all who use it. To me, the phrase is a gross over-generalization made by people who read one article about a disgusting act, then proceed to believe that all 7.2 billion people on this earth, every countless person who lived and died before us, and every person who will live in the future, are equally disgusting.
As far as I know, not every single one of us commits genocides in sub-Saharan Africa. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t think that the cute newborn baby in the adjacent apartment is capable of genocide, much less knows what genocide even is.
I particularly dislike this phrase because I think it’s impossible to lose – or regain – hope for the human race. There are so damn many of us on this planet, so many that we’ll eventually run out of occupable living space. Humanity never has – and never will be – defined by one single action, no matter how large or important it may seem.
I don’t have faith in humanity. I don’t sit and ponder the moral foundations that encompass our entire species. Hey, you know what? I don’t even think about humanity at all.
I think about specific humans, and I have faith in them. I have faith in my mother and father. I have faith in the professor whose lectures over the years have changed my life. I have faith in many things and in many people.
Likewise, I don’t have faith in the lying, conniving politicians who scheme their way into power. I don’t have faith in the east London thieves who two years ago tried to mug me at knife-point. I don’t have faith in the girl who once said she loved me and said she meant it, then ran off with my best friend a week later.
Maybe most people don’t really understand what it means to “lose faith in humanity.” Maybe they throw around the phrase like teenagers throw around a beaten-up football. Maybe I’m putting a bit too much thought into it.
But hey, I hope humanity rethinks these words before using them. This phrase, after all, is one that I don’t have faith in.