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Alex Hutchins

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What does it mean to be human?

As a College professor, I start the first day of every class by asking my students this question. Needless to say, they do not know how to answer it, even though they have previously had psychology and philosophy courses prior to the Junior/Senior classes that I typically teach.

So, if students do not know how to answer this question right away, then my next question is, do the rest of us know how to answer this question right away or would it require some reflection?

Or, does anyone really care?

I am sure that it has different meaning for different people but would it also have different meanings for different cultures?

Does being human mean some different in Christianity than it does for Muslims or people of the Jewish faith or agnostics for that matter?

Do we need to prove that we exist in order to answer this question? And, while you are pondering this one, let me explain: I am talking about "I think therefore I am," but is this life "real" or is this life a metaphor for the life that we will all be experiencing after death? If this life therefore is not real, does it matter that we exist and furthermore, does being human have any meaning at all?

Are we human because we oftentimes do not practice what we preach?

Are we human because we can skillfully put down the thoughts and comments of others?

Are we human because we are arrogant or wealthy although I see the two as mutually exclusive myself?

Are we human because we have faith and hypocritically live out that faith in our daily lives?

Are we human because we are a racist and have found clever ways to hide why we feel that way?

Are we human because we have cheated on our spouses?

Are we human because we like to engage in wars all over the globe so that we can prove we are better than others, or stronger... while really wanting to impose our way of life on them?

Are we human because we cannot accept cultural diversity as the new norm?

What are your thoughts as to what it means to be human?


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    Jun 25 2013: I'd like to firstly thank you for posing this question.We human are often too lazy and awkward to really think about this question,including myself,I would tend to circumvent this question in my life,cause I know it's pretty mind-consuming.Maybe it is why I feel sometimes a lack of pondering on things that really concern me. But people would ask does it necessary to mull 'what does it mean to be human',cause our lives go on without thing about it.

    But,I think while we are pondering this question,we are pinpointing the real meaning of life,thus it is conducive to make our lives quality better.We would think human origin,mission,relationship,proposition,etc.

    Most of all,I think the part mission is the most important part,if we are here,we ought to make a difference,we should make our own lives better,and other lives better. So,find a mission,whether it is for yourself,your family,your country,or even the whole world,then march forward to our destination.

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