Human beings are human beings before they are lawyers, or physicians, or merchants, or manufacturers; and if you make them capable and sensible human beings, they will make themselves capable and sensible lawyers or physicians. -John Stuart Mill
It seems to be very easy for us to forget that first and foremost, all day, every day, we are dealing with fellow human beings in our day-to-day lives. One of the great tragedies in life is to forget this fact, and thus lose our opportunities to connect with other humans and enrich our lives significantly.
After all, all of the other humans with whom you come into contact have lived their own lives up until this point, learning their own lessons and figuring out their own answers to their problems. They can offer us the benefit of their experiences, and we can learn about different ways of looking at the world and the lives we live.
But it’s so easy for us to categorize, and once we do that, people lose a bit of their humanity. It’s easy in a restaurant to think “This is my waitress,” and deal with her as some sort of order-taking machine. On the other hand, if we were to think “This is another human being who is working hard to meet her responsibilities and commitments, someone who has a different perspective on life that is no less valid than mine,” and treat this person as if she were a fellow human being, our interaction with her could be much more rewarding. It needn’t reach the depths of a friendship for it to be valuable to us, and while we may not see the immediate value to us, it may prove to be very valuable to the other person.
We’re all human beings. We all have thoughts, hopes, dreams, ambitions, and desires, and we all need recognition of our humanity. Isn’t it about time that we started giving that recognition regularly to the other people in our lives?
Questions to consider:
Is it easy for you to see the humanity in other people, or do you tend to take them for granted?
Why do we tend not to notice the humanity in other people?
What would the world be like if we all recognized and respected the humanity in all of the other people that we meet each day?
For further thought:
We cannot live only for ourselves.
A thousand fibers connect us with
our fellow men and women;
and among those fibers,
as sympathetic threads, our
actions run as causes,
and they come back to us as effects.