Posts Tagged ‘on being human’

Today I saw happened to be walking by the house of an old friend in my neighborhood as he drove up. I waited for him to get out of his truck. We greeted, then chatted about the landscaping remodel of his front yard, now half finished.

I brought it up, his wife, acknowledged his wife, what had happened last year, how she was tragically killed in an accident. He talked about her, how he is working at surviving, going to groups, going on, doing the landscaping she had wanted. We hugged — three times. We were present to each other. He mentioned the need for a new hairdresser. I gave him the name of my friend who cuts hair in a shop and told him, “This guy has this awesome personality and doesn’t charge too much. You’ll love him.” Then I texted him the phone number.

After I left and returned home, he texted me.

“Thanks for stopping by and for the hair contact. Pretty much available to stop and talk anytime (if no appts or nap pending)? Great to see you.”

What is precious? Presence. Another person’s presence — that is of the highest value. Being with, being near, being proximate — this is superlative! Stopping to talk, standing within another’s magical realm — this is nonpareil! Lingering, listening, absorbing, merging with another being — it is always a mysterious encounter with a stunningly significant life form. Such moments are exquisite! Not doing, being, not doing business, but letting someone else’s state of being be our business — transcendent!

You and I can do nothing better with our time and then be present with each other.

Do not be overrighteous,
neither be overwise—
why destroy yourself?

Ecc. 7:16

What? The Bible instructs us not to be too righteous!

One commentator gives this explanation:

“Do not be simplistically righteous with the expectation of immediate reward, neither be naively wise, why cause yourself to be astonished that God did not honor your righteous living with immediate blessing?”

That’s a pretty good shot at it. I would add, don’t fool yourself and think that you are righteous when you’re really not, and thereby destroy your humanity with a false coat of painted-on perfection.

And, I’d add on the New Testament view too, that we are made righteous in Christ, and yet, in ourselves, yeah, still not prefect in everyday thought and behavior.

I’ve got some flaws; you too; let’s admit them.

I was upset this week with one of my daughters when I should have just kept my cool. She did nothing wrong. I was just impatient. I am not in danger of being overly righteous in the sense of being super good.

Actually, to be honest, I don’t always even always want to be good. I have no desire to be on somebody’s pedestal or my own. I’ll fall off fast. I don’t much like people who think they are above everyone else or myself when I act that way.

That’s probably wrong of me, not to want to be too righteous, or perfect,  perhaps it’s a rationalization for wrong stuff, but I do want to be better than I have been  — a lot, mostly, kind of — and I am very comfortable with being human, which of course I am, which means not perfect.

I guess I’ve gotten to more okay with me not perfect, because I know that I am trying to be right and that when I’m not,  I am loved and forgiven by God and my family.

I’m good with human.

Hope you are too.

It looks a lot like Brian Williams, popular NBC News anchor has lied — which is not the best thing for someone trusted to report the news — and that then he lied about lying.


Why would a guy who makes ten million dollars a year and is super well-respected as a celebrity news anchor lie about taking fire in a helicopter in Iraq when it didn’t happen and then lie again by saying he misremembered the incident and accidentally tangled up the facts? It isn’t like he needs to make up accomplishments because he lacks accomplishments or affirmation — or does he?

Actually, perhaps the simplest explanation for Brian’s behavior is that he is needy, that he doesn’t feel complete, that he doesn’t feel good enough, that he is insecure about his reputation and his accomplishments. There is a good chance that wealthy Brian is hungry, for love.

Of course I could be wrong. Brian may just be a spoiled brat and a narcissist. But even if that is so, or a bit so, even such a condition as that may arise out of deprivation, from not really getting or understanding or living a life of real love.

This is so human its painful, and yet not. It is not unusual for a powerful man to be needy. Actually, I think Brian represents most all of us, whatever our status . He is somewhat insecure; he is hungry for love and attention.

In a way it’s helpful seeing him like this. It is enlightening. Fame and fortune don’t fill our tanks, not when we come into celebrity and wealth already on empty or even half-full. It is pretty much the thing with us that we never seem to get enough attention or valor or respect or love. We are all love hungry.

What to do?

What we need to do to avoid falseness, to not have to be the hero who took fire is to be fine with being needy and to make good friends with being non-heroic, at least a good deal of the time.

It’s okay to want valor that you don’t have, and it’s okay to be less accomplished than you are, but its also best to avoid lying to people who put their trust in you. It’s a really sad to lose people’s trust, and it definitely doesn’t do much for your reputation or your self-esteem.

For all or most of us, hunger for valor or simply for love will remain, but we can probably get a perfectly good meal now and again, just by being our selves.

“I think you think that you can’t  hurt me when you say stuff. But when you say stuff it does hurt me. I know in the past I acted all tough and hard-headed but I’m not like that now.”

He sat on the couch in front of her and put his fist on his chest and coughed.

“I don’t know,” she said. “You used to say that nothing could hurt you, and I guess I thought that was true.”

“Well, it’s not anymore,” he replied. “You see how I’ve been lately, all emotional with the kids and with you. I see that what I’ve done has hurt a lot of other people and I’m sorry about that and I’ve been apologizing for that.”

I turned to her and asked, “Can you see that he’s been different lately?”

“I can,” she replied. “It’s like he is becoming more human.”

It’s interesting, the degrees of things, the way things change.  We are all becoming, everyday, perhaps more or less human.

What does that mean? I’m not entirely sure, except to say that part of it can be explained by the progress or regress we make emotionally. To be human is to feel —  pain, love, depression, happiness, guilt, tranquility.

To petrify emotionally is to lose our humanity. To turn to stone regarding other human’s feelings is to lose the human quality of our relationships. To grow numb, to fail to understand or care when our behaviors bring pain to others — this all is part of a process whereby we grow inhuman and inhumane.

This matters.

We must not lose the affective domain or we lose our humanity.

To be human is to be emotionally rich. To break, to soar, to break down, to take courage, to pick ourselves up and explain to someone else how we really feel — this is what it means to be an integrated person, a complete personality, a fully human being.

As long as we can be hurt then we  retain the ability to understand someone elses’ hurt.

To the extent that we can accept and honor our own emotions, then we will be able to accept and honor other people’s emotions.

Feelings feel feelings.


Be human.