Merriam-Webster defines humanity as 1) compassionate, sympathetic, or generous behavior or disposition and 2) the quality or state of being human. That word, humanity, has kept popping up in my mind recently. As I see what is going on in the world, I just keep thinking of humanity and what has become of it. Today’s church readings were about the Sermon on the Mount which gave us the Beatitudes. If Christians followed the teaching of the Beatitudes, we would have a full and rewarding life because of how we view ourselves and treat others. The Beatitudes are example of humanity in action.
I firmly believe there are always more helpers than hurters in the world. The problem is that the hurters demand attention because their actions often harm so many people. The helpers demonstrate compassion and support without demanding attention. As my thinking evolves, I now connect hurters with inhumanity and helpers with humanity.
In this country, we are seeing more and more individuals in power treat others as less than human. Governors separate immigrant families at the border and then take groups to places like Washington DC and Martha’s Vineyard to make some sort of political statement. Black men like George Floyd and Tyre Nicholas are killed by police who are supposed to protect us and keep us safe. Antisemitism is on the rise and so is violence against the Asian American Pacific Islander Community. Women have lost the ability to control their own healthcare and destiny in many states. The LGBTQ+ community are being villainized and persecuted.
I realize our country has a long history of treating others inhumanely. The enslavement of black and brown people was legal until 1865. The Trail of Tears killed scores of Native Americans. Women were not allowed to vote until 1920. During World War II, Japanese Americans were sent to internment camps. Harvey Milk was assassinated because he championed a bill in San Francisco to ban discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.
When we stop viewing others as fully human, we can justify not treating human beings with dignity and respect. If we followed the Beatitudes, we would treat everyone regardless of race, color, creed, gender, or sexual orientation as fully human. Unfortunately, too many in power do not follow the teaching of the Beatitudes. They demonize the poor, do not play peacemaker, and believe in persecuting those who are different.
We need to stop and do a serious self-assessment. How do we treat others? Do we treat others with humanity or less than human? Why would anyone deserve to be treated as less than human? What does that say about us and our insecurities?
When we embrace humanity, we come together to lift up and support one another. We believe in love and equality for all. We are not threatened by differences but rather curious and excited about them. When we embrace humanity, we can solve issues like violence, poverty, and illness. We see the best in one another and learn from each other. Those of us who are helpers and believe in humanity need to stand up to those hurters who view others as less than human. Perhaps the time has come for helpers to be more vocal and noticeable in order to rid the world of hurters and embrace our humanity. Only through humanity, we will we all be safe and fully realized. Remember to be kind to one another and help take care of each other.