What words and phrases can we use to explain the concept of humanity?
Here are a few that come to mind. There are many more:
Unconditional love, acceptance, patience, tolerance, caring, humility, selflessness, generosity, compassion, creativity, teamwork, empathy, kindness….. a thesaurus of caring!
The following nine quotations, drawn from the precious experience of some wise and truly inspirational human beings, also express some important principles of humanity:
1.“My humanity is bound up in yours, for we can only be human together.”
Étienne Sándorfi – Ange Vous Regarde  Gandalf’s Gallery. Flickr.
We are, indeed, inextricably joined together and have a multitude of intricate connections, necessary to our common humanity.
We also share a collective responsibility, to others, to ourselves, to the world. We are parts of a whole and whatever we do will affect others in some way.
This is intensely relevant during this pandemic. If some groups in the community are more prone to catching Coronavirus than others, we all need to take care to protect them through our own thoughtful behaviour.
In addition, if some people do not follow the social distancing rules, we are all inevitably going to be affected.
“The future of humanity is in our hands.” 14th Dalai Lama
“Whoever saves one life, saves the world entire.” Thomas Keneally
“One person of integrity can make a difference.” Elie Wiesel
2. “You must not lose faith in humanity. Humanity is an ocean; if a few drops of the ocean are dirty, the ocean does not become dirty.”
Emil Nolde – A Fresh Day at the Seaside  Gandalf’s Gallery. Flickr.
It is important not to lose our belief in humanity if we encounter dishonest or destructive people.
When one is betrayed, hurt or disillusioned with others, it might be tempting to generalise from this experience.
There are also good, caring people in the world, who are full of humanity and lovingkindness.
Whilst there are no perfect people, for everyone has a shadow side, there are many who have learnt to control the less acceptable aspects of their personality and allowed their good sides to shine out.
3. “Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries. Without them humanity cannot survive.”
Picasso – Old Guitarist [1903-04] Gandalf’s Gallery.Flickr.
Love and compassion, caring and benevolence, are the cornerstones of our humanity. Being able to empathise with those who are suffering and struggling, and showing benevolence and compassion, is crucial.
May we always be burdened with thinking of the suffering of others, for that is what it means to be human.
4. “The sole meaning of life is to serve humanity.”
Orange Sellers, Newlyn. Harold Harvey. 1907. Wikimedia Commons.
5. “If you judge people, you have no time to love them.”Mother TeresaRoy Lichtenstein – Finger Pointing . Gandalf’s Gallery. Flickr.
Finding fault is a way of deflecting the focus from ourselves. In addition, it keeps others at arm’s length and means we are continually setting ourselves above people.
Having a sense of superiority over others may indicate an inner lack of confidence, despite the high-handed façade.
6. “Moral courage is the highest expression of humanity.”Ralph NaderRosa Parks being fingerprinted on February 22, 1956, by Lieutenant D.H. Lackey as one of the people indicted as leaders of the Montgomery bus boycott. Wikimedia Commons.
“Stand for something or you will fall for anything. Today’s mighty oak is yesterday’s nut that held its ground. “Rosa Parks
7. “My humanity is a constant self-overcoming.”Friedrich NietzscheLooking Within. Kelly Birkenruth . 2019. Gandalf’s Gallery. Flickr.
It will enable us to monitor our own personal development, to look more kindly on others, to be more in control of our feelings.
Self-knowledge will mean that we become more open, and this open-mindedness will inevitably increase our humanity.
Self-examination helps us to be more ourselves, more real and true to ourselves. In this way, we can learn to be more true to others, more authentic as a person.
“If you want to awaken all of humanity, awaken all of yourself.”Lao Tzu
8. We have to do the best we are capable of. This is our sacred human responsibility.Albert EinsteinMichael DeVore – The Burden of Knowledge  Gandalf’s Gallery. Flickr.
Making our very best effort, as far as we can, is a way of giving, to ourselves and others.
Doing this well gives a sense of achievement and generally makes us happier; in turn, we will make others happier as a result.
9. “We must see in every person a universe with its own secrets, with its own treasures, with its own sources of anguish, and with some measure of triumph.”Elie WieselLucien Freud. Bella. Gandalf’s Gallery. Flickr.
Accepting difference and diversity, listening and showing empathy to others, recognising the worth of ourselves and those around us, all contribute to making us decent and humane people.
If I can stop one heart from breaking,
I shall not live in vain ;
If I can ease one life the aching,
Or cool one pain,
Or help one fainting robin
Unto his nest again,
I shall not live in vain.Emily Dickinson.