I’ve been thinking about this question lately. Who are we? I’ll tell you right at the start, that I don’t have an answer. A partial answer, maybe, but not a whole one. And neither does anyone else. We might think we do, but the question of who we are, is far too complex to fit into a single statement. Books have been written on the subject, and yet have failed to express fully, who we are. You may ask, who is we? We, for the purposes of this article, are human beings. So, who are we? It depends. No matter what I write here, it will be incomplete. I have my opinions, and so do you. Mine are based on a multitude of things, like feelings, beliefs, judgment, teachings, comprehension, education, experiences, and on, and on. And so are yours, and yours will be different than mine. Is there a correct answer then, to the question of who we are? That’s doubtful.
We are animals, with complex thoughts and emotions. There, I’ve just answered the question. But as you can see, that’s an incomplete statement. There is so much more that makes us human. Here’s a fact: no two humans are alike. I had friends in high school who were identical twins. My father was an identical twin. I could always tell them apart, family or friends, they were not, completely alike. What does that mean? It means, that what makes you human, is different from what makes me human. We could say of course, that humans have two arms, two legs and walk upright. But not every human does. Some are born different, because of genetics. Again, we are human because of our ability to think complex thoughts and feel complex emotions, and again, not everyone does. Are some of us more human than others? The question of who we are suddenly seems a lot more complex than we imagined.
At one time you could say, “I’m a man,” or “I’m a woman,” as if that explained your humanity. In today’s world, gender has come under the microscope. Now there are terms like, male, female, gay, bi, cis, trans, non-binary, and others that explain gender, as if gender, anymore than what it means to be human, can be explained. My personal opinion is that we don’t know who we are, and that usually doesn’t sit well with a lot of people. A lot of people, myself included, want answers. We don’t like unanswered questions. We’re not comfortable with things that don’t have names, or labels, or explanations. We need to fit things into boxes, properly labeled and stuck on shelves where we don’t have to worry about them. But that’s not how it works.
Humans are capable of the most heinous atrocities, and the most wonderful expressions of love. Dictators, who commit horrible acts of violence against their own people may still have art adorning their walls, or literature on their shelves. A serial killer might weep while listening to an opera. Each of us, is capable of all these things and more. We may not think we are, but when pressed, we may find out differently. Are we any more or less human, depending on what we are capable of, or what we chose to do, or not do?
Ask yourself what makes you who you are, and see what you come up with. If you really give it some thought, what you come up with may surprise you. Regardless of how advanced we are, we’re still just bumbling around in the dark. We know little more today about what it means to be human than we did five hundred years ago. And what will we know five hundred years in the future? More than we do today, to be sure, but still not enough.