We are human. At our core, that is who we are and what we do. Everything stems from that. Being humane is an attribute intrinsically vested in every one of us since our inception. Our souls are fragments of the divine: indestructible and pristine. The elements our essences are contained within emanate from the same lofty sources. Our circumstances may mold our natures and deeds such that they make us different from one another—beautiful, grotesque and everything in between – but deep within, we are all human, humane, with untarnished souls.
Flattering, isn’t it? Embellishing the grossness of our temperaments with the veneer of the celestial to exonerate ourselves of our heinous monstrosities. It’s casting oblivion over everything we fall short on, but deep down, we’re still the same.
Some of us go a degree further into classifying bodies into good and evil. The ‘goodness’ stands lamely on some little acts of philanthropy done more for being lauded than under the actual scope of conscience. Others are ‘bad,’ their scruples are not adequately developed. They are the ones who have not yet acknowledged the godly spark within them. Their consciousness is dormant or clouded – it awaits its turn of enlightenment — when suddenly the skies will part and they’ll enter the realm of the ‘good’.
Who are we deluding?
The other day, from the fifth story of a building, I saw four donkeys walking on the road side by side. They seemed uncomfortable, almost limping. Looking closely, I saw that someone had tied one of each of their legs to another’s. That ‘someone’ in all probability was their master whose ingenuity ensured that none of them would stray — no doubt, it was inconvenient for the donkeys whose movements were jerky and slow, but since when has a donkey’s convenience become a concern for anyone? Aghast, I censured the ‘inhumanity’ of the act with some profanity and a lot of disdain. A few other people who saw this reacted similarly. Our indignation vented, all of us re-immersed into ourselves within minutes — our work, our friends, our relationships, our emotions. The goodness in us sparkled to life for a split second when we acknowledged the unfairness perpetrated on some ‘poor donkeys’. Our morality was wrenched within us as we decried the brutality. But what did any of us do about it? Felt good that we are conscientious, kind-hearted people who can ‘feel’ for others and denounce injustice — especially towards animals? If there’s no action, where does that get you?
How often do we come across an old pet turned out of doors because it is sick or old? It is left to forage for itself in some wilderness it has no acquaintance with. It is left to die of starvation and pain! There are some stray wretches too…they are born to fly into the embrace of some speeding vehicle that might put an end to their misery. Not that the drivers are at fault — it is these animals all along, we say. They dodge back and forth, appear suddenly out of nowhere, look undecided about which way to turn. They ought to know that it is a lot of effort to apply brakes when vehicles are on their speedy spree. The pain of compromising the thrill of a fast drive on the highway is colossal — it cannot be endured for the sake of a miserable animal no one has any use for.
Animals might belong to a different, inferior world. How about fellow humans — our brethren? We see throngs of them every day — crippled, begging, dying. We see emaciated children, gaunt elderly people looking up to us with hopeful, beseeching eyes. What do most of us do? Avert our eyes! Dub them all as thugs who thrive on fooling people with sentimental lies. Quite a few of us have stories to narrate of the deceptions these vagabonds employ. I am not challenging the veracity of these beliefs. I am even assuming they are true…and by the same assumption I implore the not-so-unfortunate among us to put ourselves into the shoes of these ‘miscreants’. Would we too not have behaved similarly were our circumstances not what they are? Would we not have utilized all our faculties, including deception and emotional manipulations, to ensure another little meal for ourselves? We moralize: we tell them to work and not to beg…I’ve seen people doing that! I ask our moralizers: who employs this scum of society? Who trusts them with jobs and things? Besides, when they do come by work — mainly of selling utilities at traffic signals — how many of us entertain them?
For that matter, how many of us have helped a lost person find his way about a busy thoroughfare? We see aged people struggling to cross the road — do we stop to let them pass? Our time is precious. We have a movie show to catch, we have to meet friends, we have to reach on time for our business meetings, we have zillions of important things to do — and so we act like we can’t stop. We see life writhing in pain ahead of us. What do we do? If it is a human, we might call the police —maybe, even the hospital (we may even ignore and move on)…if it is an animal, who cares? A person shoves a hand-cart ahead of us. He is struggling to get his burden to the other side. We curse him, we honk-honk-honk to increase his trepidation.
My assistant has stories to narrate of how she is exploited for every penny she earns. Exploited and humiliated. I have witnessed aged parents being abused by their children…the children they brought up on the sweat of their brows and the blood in their veins. Brothers kill brothers, siblings harbor animosity, sacrosanct relations turn sour — for love of money! Tolerance is almost a virtue of a bygone era. Goodness is oftentimes measured in charitable contributions for deducting tax.
Some of us might argue that we cannot change the world… whatever we do, we cannot, cannot make a perceptible difference anywhere. True, we cannot alter the circumstances of the planet — we are too insignificant for that. But we can awaken our souls from their slumber of despondency and garner our resources to assist someone — anyone — in whatever little way we can. We will then measure fairly to our claim of ‘being human’ without proclaiming it out loud. Our humanity shall herald us. It will then be an attribute not endowed on us by divine right, but an honor well deserved.