A reflection on Chapter 6 of our shared dream

“What makes us human?”

In the book, Jean-Louis says that his exploration with people leads him to conclude, “We are human because we are similar, we are proud of our origins and we aspire to a better life for ourselves and our families. We are human because we love our country and our community, because we want to live together in peace, because we love nature and want to protect it, and we overcome unexpected crises with courage. We are human because we are capable of compassion.”

At the start of the chapter, Jean-Louis says that Usa often starts her learning event with the different question. Her question is, “Are we human?” I will come back to Jean-Louis’ question, but I think that Usa’s question is very interesting. I have used her question on many occasions, but my experience is that I must use this question with caution. It has caused puzzlement, irritation, even anger. But is has opened up for me some very profound discussions of the value of the label ‘human’. Is this label useful? Does it cause more problems than it solves? What happens when we put the label aside. My advice is that if you use the question, you use it with caution.

I have also considered Jean-Louis’ question a lot and I confess that it puzzles me. I am not sure that I can reflect on the question, “What makes us human?” The question that I know I can reflect on is, “What makes me human?” When I do that I find is that I don’t get the same answer as Jean-Louis gives in the book and in the first paragraph of this note. In fact, I get a different answer every time I think about the question. If you were to push me to answer the question, it would revolve around the observation I have just made. Each time I think about the question, my thoughts go in a different direction and I come out with a different answer. Not only is there no ‘right’ answer for humanity, there isn’t even a ‘right’ answer for me.

Where does get me? I think it leads me towards a respect for diversity. The diversity of the thinking of an individual. The diversity of humanity. The diversity of life. And the diversity of the world in which we live.

I will finish this posting with 2 questions for Usa.
Are we human?
What makes us human? 

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Comment by Autry Haynes on June 30, 2017 at 4:12pm

Very 'thought stimulating' Phil. I share the 'diversity' aspect (^_^). As I am responding here, am reflecting on what my response was, some seven years ago when Usa asked that question to some 30 participants. I can't remember how that went! My experience however is that I have always used the question to stimulate community conversation. I use both questions one after the other beginning with Usa's Are we human? For me tone and even body language matter when asking the question. Then I allow for community members' response. Te response almost always is YES! Of course! I then follow-up with the question, "So, what makes us human?" Here, i sometimes divide community members into smaller groups. Then in plenary, each group share its response. It is my opinion that in smaller groups individual response is more guarentee. some persons may be shy to express themselves in big groups. In smaller groups persons may be stimulated by others in that group. What is your opinion? to individuals who may be quiet.

It is my opinion that these questions starts a healthy community conversation for sustainable strength based actions towards common dreams.

Like Phil, I, too would love to have Usa's sayings (^_^)


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