What It Means to Be Human

Topics: Human rights, Les Misérables, Love Pages: 5 (1917 words) Published: May 3, 2005
Cogito Ergo Sum
(I Think Therefore I Am)
Kristin Patton

"The common outcry, which is justly made on behalf of human rights - for example, the right to health, to home, to work, to family, to culture - is false and illusory if the right to life, the most basic and fundamental right and the condition of all other personal rights is not defended with maximum determination." -- Pope John Paul II

What does it mean to be human? Sure, one must have the usual physical features such as fingers, eyes, arms, hands, feet, etc., but what does it really mean? Must the human be able to speak? To take upon the actions of themselves? Whatever it means, it can be interpreted in any way from anyone. The physical attributes of any human can be compared to those of our evolutionary ancestors. However, it is possible to believe that there are many characteristics that make a human, but only six define the true, ideal human.

First, one must have the five senses; taste, smell, hear, see, and feel. Yes, these are physical aspects, however, these senses are what any human needs to be, human. For example, the human body needs to be able to taste. It must ingest food, and the food must appeal to a decent taste. A human must also be able to smell, so one may smell a poisonous gas, delicious food, or any other stench that may linger in the air. To be able to hear, enables the human to hear danger or a noise that appeals to them. When seeing, danger is also noted as well as the care of others. When one feels, the object that is being felt may make the person feel comfortable. Not only the sense of touching, but feelings.

Second, a human must be able to love. Without love, there is no suffering. Love does not have to mean sexually, it can mean a mutual bond between friends, family, and for oneself. In William Shakespeare's Othello, Othello's love for Desdemona is a strong, passionate love as is Desdemona towards Othello. Desdemona says: That I did love the Moor to live with him,

My downright violence and storm of fortunes
May trumpet to the world. My heart's subdued
Even to the very quality of my lord.
I saw Othello's visage in his mind,
And to his honors and his valiant parts
Did I my soul and fortunes consecrate.
So that, dear lords, if I be left behind
A moth of peace and he go to the war,
The rites for which I love him are bereft me,
And I a heavy interim shall support
By his dear absence. Let me go with him. ( 1.3. 248-259).

Now, in John Gunther's novel, Death Be Not Proud, this type of love is family based. Johnny's love is strong and death will not tear his family apart. " Nobody else was in the room, and Johnny looked straight at him. ‘Do my parents know this? How shall we break it to them?' Then, some months later, when he seemed to be getting better, he felt the edge of bone next to the flap in the skull wound, and looked questioningly and happily at the doctor-- a different doctor-- then attending him. The doctor was pleased because the bone appeared to be growing back, but with a crying lack of tact he told Johnny, ‘Oh, yes… it's growing… but in the wrong direction, the wrong way.' Johnny controlled himself and said nothing until the doctor left the room. His face had gone white and he was sick with sudden worry and harsh disappointment. Then he murmured to me, ‘Better not tell Mother it's growing wrong.'" (Gunther 5). Regardless of Johnny's illness, Johnny manages to love his family and enjoy life as much as possible.

Third, a human must be able to have, and cope with emotion. In George Bernard Shaw's Pygmalion, Professor Higgins is a very emotional man. "‘ Damn Mrs. Pearce; and damn the coffee; and damn you; and damn my own folly in having lavished hard-earned knowledge and the treasure of my regard and intimacy on a heartless guttersnipe.'" (Shaw 435). Here, one may notice that he is jealous. Jealousy is a strict emotion that should not be played...
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