“The greatness of humanity is not in being human, but in being humane” — Mahatma Gandhi
We are born into this world as humans, but the choice to be humane is one that we make consciously. What does humanity mean to us? The most common definition of humanity describes it as a value of kindness and compassion towards other human beings. Humanity is seen in acts of love, compassion, concern and friendship. Humans are social animals and it is our tendency to nurture strong relationships with those around us. We depend on other living creatures and the environment for survival, but it is our emotional connections with other humans that sustain us and affect our lives most profoundly.
Throughout history, sages, prophets, and pioneers have attempted to enlighten the masses with their teachings and uplift the community, but today, those values have degraded and vanished from our thinking. The modern man in his own arrogance completely disregards the rules of morality and conduct. Inhumane forces push people to indulge in several unethical and disruptive activities that hamper overall peace and well-being. The end of last year saw the resurgence of terrorism, as the Taliban seized control of Afghanistan. Our generation has witnessed conflicts between nations, international unrest, and a threat of nuclear war constantly looming over the world. We have shown no mercy towards Nature, exploiting her endlessly. These are still issues of an international scale, but when we think of our society and everyday life — do we find that we are living in a place that can be considered safe for women and children? Why do we find that people are divided on the basis of their religion, caste, ethnicity, gender identity, and sexual orientation?
We have over 7 billion people living on our planet today spread across 196 countries. Within each of these countries, we can find people of diverse ethnic backgrounds, religious views, and political ideologies. And as a result of these differences, disputes and confrontations are common. These differences might make collaboration more challenging, but history is replete with examples of the global community coming together at times of need. From our fight against the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, to standing in solidarity with global movements like “Black Lives Matter” and “Me Too”, we have shown that we have the ability to empathise, to be affected by injustice and to be mobilised against it.
Where the world has not been broken up into fragments by narrow domestic walls…
We have shown that we care and that humanity has yet not descended into helplessness. With intolerance and hatred, there is also acceptance and compassion. While some people choose to condone violence and discrimination, there are others who have dedicated their lives for its elimination. With this vision, humanitarian Henry Dunant started the International Red Cross Movement, a global effort to protect human life and health, and alleviate human suffering. The United Nations was conceived with the aim of global peacekeeping and international collaboration. Each year, on the 4th of February, we observe the International Day of Human Fraternity, to celebrate the spirit of cultural and religious tolerance, and the importance of mutual understanding. We pledge to stand united across borders, and uphold this age-old saying in our heart — “Vasudhaiva Kutambakam” (the world is one family).
…Into that heaven of freedom, my Father let my country awake! — Rabindranath Tagore
The endorsement of a culture of peace, where there is respect for life, is the core principle of humanity. Humanitarian efforts are not limited to huge organisations; local groups and individuals across the world are dedicated to the same cause. We can play our own role in aiding this cause by taking time out on weekends to volunteer at orphanages and old age homes, keeping our surroundings clean, and making persistent efforts to understand each other and coexist despite differences in opinion. All these are small acts of kindness that keep our faith in humanity alive. As the Dalai Lama said, “Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries. Without them, humanity can not survive”.
Written by Pratyusha Naik, Megha Shruti and Gauri Mathur