How Can Humans Become More Humane?

Human history is filled with aggression, violence, betrayal, greed, and other negative acts. How can we become more humane?

While there are plenty of instances of people treating each other with grace and dignity, the opposite is alarmingly common. And all too often, the underlying cause is suspicion and mistrust of the other.

It is easy to understand bad behavior when life and death is on the line. If my family is going to starve, I might steal your food to feed them. That may not be right, but it makes sense.

However, what do we make of more abstract differences? Why do we attack or enslave someone else because their skin color is different from ours? Or they pray to a different god? Or they speak a different language?

There may be an evolutionary cause to our behavior. A person who mistrusted others in different tribal groups may have been more likely to survive into adulthood and have offspring. We may be hardwired that way.

Now however, that same behavior is counterproductive at best, and actively destructive at worst. We can see divisions growing between groups for the simplest of reasons. People are insulted and attacked online, which ruins the experience for everyone. Misogyny, homophobia, racism all run rampant in today’s society.

Is there any way we can improve things? Can we train ourselves to treat others with respect and compassion, even if we don’t know them? Can we overcome our baser instincts and be more humane? On a personal level, what do you do if you suspect you might be succumbing to your darker nature?

Related questions: How can we encourage meaningful conversation? Why do we hate? How can you love someone who does something you hate? Why does social media often bring out the worst in us?

History Or Current Events?

Do you prefer to learn about things that happened in the past, or do you spend more time on current events?

Share why if you wish.

History Or Current Events?

How Have You Been Impacted By The Place Or Time Of Your Birth?

There are many factors that make one individual different from another. One of those factors might be the location or the time of your birth. What do you think about yours?

There is no doubt that each person is unique, set apart from all the others by their experiences as well as by their DNA. It is also true that we human beings like to celebrate birthdays. Are those two things related?

Certainly, fans of astrology like to believe that the stars in the sky at the time of your birth, and possibly the position of the planets as well, determine your personality. That’s why, they say, a Gemini is different from an Aries.

Rationally, it is hard to imagine the mechanism which would allow stars to have that kind of impact. However, there may be a more earthbound explanation. Could the time of your of your birth impact your development? Does a child born in the winter have a different development curve than one born in summer? Is a spring baby different from an autumn baby?


Listen to a podcast where Michael and Lee discuss a related question: ‘What makes you you?’ We also discuss a bonus question: ‘What gives a person value?’


Similarly, does the geographic location have any sort of long-term impact on an individual? In a very simple way, this must be true — a baby born in a country that has a lower infant mortality rate is more likely to grow to adulthood.

But what about more subtle differences? Does the simple act of being born in Seattle make for a different experience than being born in Atlanta? Is being born in a hospital drastically different from being born at home?

Or are the differences instead due to childhood development that comes later in life? Does it matter more where someone lives at, say, five years old than where they were at birth?

Most of us know, with a great level of certainty, exactly when and where we were born. Do those facts say anything in particular about us as people?

Related questions: What makes a community? Why do you live where you live? How many times did you move as a child? Birthday: Celebrate or not?

What Do You Miss?

One constant in life is change. And when things change, invariably you lose some of the things that bring you comfort or happiness. What do you miss?

The types of things you miss can vary quite widely. It might be a material object, like a child missing a favorite teddy bear.

Others might miss a person, like a particularly meaningful teacher, or a family member that is far away, or deceased. You might even combine a physical object and a person, like a shirt reminding you of your father.

Maybe you fondly recall your favorite meal at a restaurant that has since closed. Or attending a concert of a band that has broken up.


Listen to a podcast where Michael and Lee discuss a related question: ‘How can we maintain wonder?’ We also discuss a bonus question: ‘How do you think others see you?’


There are also more abstract things to miss. Maybe you wish you were carefree like you were as a child, before you gained adult responsibilities.

On the other hand, you might miss things simply because you have grown older. Do you remember when you were skinny, or had all your hair, or didn’t need glasses?

Adding to all of this, of course, are the restrictions that have been in place over the last couple of years due to the pandemic. Some of us haven’t been traveling, or spending time with friends or loved ones. Our lives have changed in many ways since we went into lockdown back in March of 2020.

So what is it for you: a object, a person, a memory of days gone by? What do you miss?

Related questions: Who do you miss? How have you changed? What was the best time in your life? What is the best part about getting older? The worst?

 

Are We Living Through History?

When reading through history books, it is easy to wonder about people who lived through historic events. Were they aware they were making history?

What did people living in the 1930s think about the Great Depression? Did they appreciate the magnitude of what was happening, or were they just trying to survive from day to day?

Did the young men fighting in the Civil War think that what they were doing would be written down and studied? Perhaps, instead, it was just what was happening in their lives at that time.

There were plenty of people who joined the Civil Rights marches in the 1960s. And there were others that opposed them. Were they speaking to future generations, or just trying to convince others to help them?

We are living through a global pandemic, political upheaval, racial unrest, and environmental catastrophe. Someday in the future, will students read about us in their textbooks? Will they learn about what happened here and now, and wonder about the people — us — that lived through it?

Are we living through history?

Related questions: What historical figure would you like to meet? What is the greatest problem facing humanity? Should we be concerned with legacy? What do we owe the future?