In these posts, I am always talking to you rather than over you. These are ideas of mine that I sense others may have, or are opposed to with a vigour that surpasses average. My destiny is to prompt worthwhile dialogue, and to develop your inner monologues so that your heads are better places to live in. So, having said all of this, I have a question for my readers. Instead of answering it for you, I’m only going to speculate (I won’t force anything on you.) And, if you feel a strong urge to share your thoughts on this, I’d love to hear them. Here is my question:
What makes a human being a human being without question or debate?
It would help you (as it helped me) to think along these lines:
Why is death reported as less of harsh, existential experience when it occurs in some parts of the world, yet dwelled on and spotlighted so heavily in other parts? Why are only some people allowed to feel grief, anger and frustration with a fullness? Why are people born before the 20th century terrifying? Why must indigenous communities relinquish their humanity in their abstinence from modernism? Why do their niche practices hinder seemingly their ability to relate to the rest of us?
In other words, why are some people more human than other human people? If it concerns ideas of being present, staying in the loop, and being situated in the most up-to-date environments and communities, then why do these things equate to worth and an ability to feel the human experience from edge to edge?
It is perhaps the most existential, impossible question that ever was. It is a question for right now because it is now that I’m wondering why and how I exist in relation to everyone alive, and everybody dead. It is because of a recent discovery of some family records— and the full, surely complex lives they underpin. It is because of talk of my grandma, and the discovery that she had boyfriends after her divorce. It is because I am my mothers daughter, and you are all your fathers daughters and sons. And, it is because I am five seasons deep into Downton Abbey and I cannot accept such prehistoric people of a different time, race and class being so relatable. It is because today I am admitting that I sometimes struggle to believe in the intricacy of lives that look nothing like mine. I’ll say it here too that my humanity is up for debate everyday, not because of the depth of my relationship with modernism, but because of the one true thing thought to unite us: emotions.
Here is where I truly speculate:
If being perceived as human concerns an ability to communicate our emotions in a way that is universally understood, then we’re relying on a very broad, very tolerant universal language. If it’s a communication of our pain, then we’re relying on our collective ability to register every grief as valid grief, whether that’s the dribbled, amplified grief of a person of colour, or the stoic, compressed sadness of a white person (catch it). Grief is scruffy and illogical more times, and it can beg us to be suspicious of it as a consequence. “Look you’re scaring the white people… it’s ok, we’re just sad.” Without the presence of a screaming pain, we even doubt a person’s capacity to feel it.
The lamented style of grief is often relied upon in order to present the humanity in the most unmanageable of situations, only for our response to become muted overtime. That traditional performance of pain we so hunger for has a neutralising affect when it plays on our tv screens via 1min 30sec clips of the third world. And, a pain driven forward by a particular environment, or even a particularly unrelatable circumstance only breaks us up into even smaller parts.
So, is it love then?
‘Pride & Prejudice’, ‘Emma’, ‘Wuthering Heights’, ‘Anna Karenina’— ‘Titanic’. The implications of loving another person ground us, and do not force us to make our beds by a particular century, or any particular way of seeing the world. We consume these age old stories because we have an affinity for the familiar, it is frankly shocking we can all understand this one segment of humanity. It never changes. That is why a true story of mass death and irreplicable tragedy must be a story about romance to quantify it as relevant— that’s why it did two billion at the box office. Nothing hits like love, death certainly does not. It adjoins us now like love literature adjoined the maids with those who dressed up to go eat downstairs.
But even then, it was (up to very recently) only a specific category of love story ruled to be traditional, acceptable. And outside, in the very literal, non-fiction world, love is not universally understood by its core sentiment. The characters in real world love stories are overly considered, and the love shared plays second fiddle. If it is to resonate, then the love must be between two identities we must all want to rally around, or the love is holey, and quite frankly, disgusting.
If not love or tears or the whole emotional pool, then what is it? There is something in our differences that make us the same beast— not science, not intellectualism, but some inner steel-like knowledge not one of us can renounce. Who is the great thinker of our times on this? Maybe there is no answer, but I kind of want to talk to you all about it, indulge me.