If what is humane is now the question, then one of the first responses would have to be directed at the notion of love. Yes, herein stated as a priori true, love is the principal attribute of anyone being humane, anyone acting humanely, anyone attempting to elevate his humanity to where he can live beyond surviving. If we recognize the French in our English, to survive is always beyond or other than living; sur/vivir in French means just that, “beyond to live.” Living humanely; there is no living inhumanely, is there? Not when we consider what we mean by living, to live by humane actions and humane choices. There really is no other way to live.
Love is an entity some say. It is a mystery these same might say. Others do. How can we know what love is in all of its variegation, in all of its manifestations? I hear others ask. These same others say that love is a spiritual principle that pervades the world. They go on to say that this thing, this entity, love, is the spirit of the world, although I notice too many instances where love is not the agency at work in the world.
We are not herein about to discuss love in its romantic variegations. We have to put on hold any attempt to discus love romantically. When what we mean by romantic love is what has conventionally been meant by romance when the latter has everything to do with sex and sexuality, we are then discussing love in a highly restricted sense, not the sense we need to understand here. This love that is the soul of humanity is one kind of overarching universal love. it is the most important notion of love to understand.The love herein discussed is–I hesitate to say–a higher love, although many of us in our traditions of discourse have imagined that the love that is the soul of humanity is a higher love than the love that brings two lovers together in the consummation of the love that arose in sexual attraction. I am not going to distinguish these; this is the reason I steered us from this restricted sense of love as romantic love because it is unnecessarily limiting. The desire to fuck as we say is in itself this love that pervades as the soul of humanity, as the essential force or agency in a universal, all-encompasing, all-embracing love; it is the initial stage in the development of this love as an agent of the humane.
Now, Mozart called love the soul of genius. Yes, love is the soul of genius, but then how so for the creation of our humanity? There is contingency between the two; love and the humane. It is self-evident to me that they are mutual and by necessity. There is little humanity without love; this is more than but the essence of Love thy neighbor as thyself.This notion of love is not exclusively other than the one we have before us or choose to discuss when two are romantically inclined toward one another. Two people sexually attracted to one another have found themselves in love, yes, true; but the beginning of love that must be acted on humanely for it to grow as an aspect of their humanity is also coupled by the love that is at the heart of their humanity. This love is the force of their acting humanely toward one another. In direct proportion of Mozart’s conception that love is at the heart of genius, we must understand that love is at the heart of humanity, at the heart of being humane. This human humane is the romantic link that lovers have; what happens to it though is always at the mercy of their choices.
One human-being is obligated to act humanely toward other human-beings; thus, in this way, Christ’s maxim is recalled. Each human-being must love others as one must love one’s self, and that by doing so one manifests a simple truth of humane being, a simple fact of our common humanity: love is the agency of God for those who are inclined to believe; it is, if only in an overarching metaphoric relationship to human action and human being, the Spiritus Mundi–yes, Love is the Spirit of the World. A Trinitarian Christian could interpret this agency of love as the agency of the Holy Ghost or the Holy Spirit. But one does not have to be Christian to understand this or to act this way–and too many Christians do not act this way, as I am painfully aware.
We must then understand that love in the way presented here is not a pasion in its entirety–passion itself not an emotion, the latter distinct from what is meant by human passion, something we come to understand through mediating our terms in the Christian tradition where we can speak of the Passion of Christ. It’s not Emotion Week, nor the Emotion of Christ. But then this understanding is universal . . . Gandhi was a man of reason and passion; his passion was not emotion, although he could be emotional. Martin Luther King Junior was a man of great passion as well as a great and passionate man–and he would clearly understand the distinction made between the two, emotion and passion. Gandhi and King were not emotional men in the sense that they were carried away by emotions. Passion, though, was at the heart of their reason and their action towards the humane, for the humane. (Men have traditionally sought to control women and their state of being or becoming, only allowing them emotions while cutting off access to passion or the expression of passion, except in highly proscribed and circumscribed contexts or outlets.)
I connect to humanity by choice, thus as an act of freewill, which I accept as self-evident. Humans have free-will. This choosing to have is exactly what distinguishes humanity from other things we are able to have without choosing. We do not choose to have blue eyes, we do not choose to breathe, we do not choose to be the homo-sapiens we are, presented with the heredity we have—we do not choose our biology as it is given to us at birth. No one chooses if he has to piss; the will to piss and the bodily function of pissing are exclusive. If holding one’s piss and shit has its limits. We do choose to be the kind of human we are, though. Thus we choose our humanity; but, of course, we do not choose it as we do other things; if we do, so much the worse for our humanity.
For certain, humanity is not a thing in the sense of an object, whether that be a rock, a chair, a tree or a piece of paper, or a part of the body separate in consideration from the entirety of one’s body in symbiosis with mind. It is also not a thing in the sense of idea or energy, such as freedom or love. But it is a thing in the notion of thing present in the idea of entity, and in this we find our humanity residing as an ingredient in the manner in which we exist. Yes, humanity is an entity we choose; it is an entity that possesses us, becomes one with us, transforms us, and transfigures us even in the eyes of others who can see, seeing here a part of our knowing our understanding our ability to learn, something even the blind can perform, this kind of seeing.
An entity has being; it exists as one. Humanity is therefore a thing as a state of being is a thing; the thingness of humanity does not subtract from it morally. Herein henceforth, human being is the thing we must most highly prize. To be human in this sense is to have what we have herein so far come to understand as humanity, which is to be human in the way we mean when you cannot be human unless humane. Humanity is thus an a transfiguring entity, it exists for this purpose; it is to be had, it is to be allowed, it is to be held, and what is to be held is to be done so with care, with caress, with tenderness. It cannot be extinguished, exterminated, and not even by the most monstrous inhumanity. It is the most fragile and yet the strongest thing in the universe.
The Nazis did not win. The concentration camp was not—is not—victorious. We cannot allow anything like Nazis and their camps to become so in our imagination.
Having humanity then is to be human in a way that can only be thoughtful, selfless in the sense that egocentric (as we mean in the pessimistic connotation we have given this term) is not the primary way in which we choose to interact with others. Love is the axis of the humane; love is the essential ingredient in kindness, tenderness, forgiveness, and compassion. Without these virtues, there can be no humane treatment of another human being. They are, though, the first qualities to disappear in any society suffering from a protracted dehumanization, the kinds we have seen throughout the history of totalitarianism, whether Bolshevik, fascist, Nazis, Stalinist or Maoist; or the kind performed in one dictatorship after another, whether Franco’s, Pinochet’s, or Hussein’s; whether Romanian, Serbian, Cuban, or Haitian. Dehumanization seems to have become one of the leading pastimes around the world; the forms of which have been at the disposal of, for instance, one African war-lord or another; one ethnic group against others, in Iraq, the former republics of the Soviet Union, during the disintegration of the former Yugoslavia, or in Israel/Palestine; in Rwanda. Tribal politics are always in the service of oppression or genocide. All the fore mentioned isms have aided in the transformation of the nation-state into tribe.
Tribal life is the beginning of the humane, not the further cultivation of being humane. Inhumanity has been all too human throughout history. How often we repeat this or the ways we do only ensure we will forget the message. In our media culture, where the medium is the message, the content gets lost in the conduit. The way we are taught to read now only further makes certain we will dis-understand the information conveyed. America is not immune to inhumanity; the fact we are human leaves us susceptible, the fact we are undereducated only insures we will mismanage our legacy and responsibility to ourselves and our posterity.