Being A Part of the Human Community
The human race. Humankind. Humanity. These are terms that get thrown around a lot, indicative that we as humans share a common bond. But too often our ability to unite as a human community and consciously recognize our collective humanity is just a response to a disaster or intrusion from some inhuman—or perceived inhuman—source. Think the Tsunami in Japan, the Earthquake in Haiti, the Stop Kony campaign, and 9/11. But we are quick to forget our bond as humans and return to conflict because we identify more strongly with our ideologies.
This behavior might lead one to believe it’s in our nature to be aggressive, confrontational, violent, and self-interested. However, new theories are suggesting this tendency towards conflict with other humans isn’t a part of our nature, it’s the result of our environment. Researchers hypothesize we are, in fact, wired for empathy to seek sociability, attachment, affection, and companionship. The reason behind this wiring could be the strongest innate driver of empathy: the drive to belong. If we begin to see each other as a single community of humans rather than many communities segmented by nationality, religion, and ideology, we can start to act as we are wired to do and actually embrace our innate empathetic natures. So what’s stopping us?
Empathy is defined as ‘the automatic or intellectual reaction to identify with and understand the plight of another you feel connected to.’ So when something harms or impedes another human – like learning of a natural disaster – we automatically empathize with the affected because we are humans. And yet, in today’s world we don’t consciously make this human connection favoring instead the containers of nationality, religion, and location. My question is, why do we do this? Why inherently dismiss our connection as humans so easily?
Throughout history the empathetic connection between humans has expanded and evolved to conform to the man-made constructs of community we’ve created. People of faith expect to feel connected to others of the same faith, as it is with nationality and ideology. We have segmented our identities to feel like we belong, but we still do not consider our humanity to be an obvious link.
But this connection is not completely forgotten. Just look at the response to any modern day natural disaster or world event. We instinctively empathize with our fellow man halfway around the world. We feel the connection, but what we need to do is consciously acknowledge it. Empathy based on our human community should be something we expect and something we cherish, not a feeling we dredge up after some terrible occurrence.
This hints at our need of a place for us, as humans, to belong, to collaborate, to interact, and to enjoy our relationships. As a human community we can put aside our disagreements, dismiss our differences, and collaborate together as equal human beings recognizing our innate relationships as human beings.
There is nothing to do this yet…
So we’re resurrecting OurPangea.