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Humanness is Found Beyond The Self

Updated on February 16, 2016

What makes man truly human?


Filipinos have the saying, “Madaling maging tao, pero mahirap magpaka-tao...” This adage is true for all types of human experiences, even those of non-Filipinos because its message is universal. Being a human is easy, because it is your own nature - but achieving humanness is not. Many philosophers have defined the human being as a rational animal. this definition is true at some extent, because there really is a fine line between the human and animalistic aspects of every human being. More importantly, it does not mean that you are naturally a human being that you are able to act as human as possible all the time. It takes a lot of determination, sheer will and courage to be able to embrace your humanness, and stay away from animalistic tendencies such as violence.

What is Humanness?

I will justify why humanness is found beyond the self through discussing three points of definition:

a) Man as a compassionate being;

b) Man who knows and accepts his own imperfections;

and c) Man as a believer.

Man as a compassionate being

All human qualities we admire in our well-respected heroes and revered men and women can be summed up in one word: compassion. Man’s capacity to love others, even at the risk of his own life, is so admirable because it shows how man cares not only for himself, but also for others. We find our identities with the people whom we love and care for. Love is foremost of all the virtues that characterize humanness because loving is such a large part of the way humans live. We love our family, our friends, and most especially, our significant others. We do things that will make people happy because our love bolsters the motivation to ensure our precious people’s happiness. To take away the element of love in one’s life is tantamount to taking away the humanity in that life. Love and ultimately, compassion gives us the courage to think not only of our happiness, but of also the other people that surround us.

Hand in hand we live together

No man is an island. We all need to be connected in a peaceful way in order to live a truly human life.
No man is an island. We all need to be connected in a peaceful way in order to live a truly human life.

Man is a compassionate being mainly because this particular trait is crucial for the social function of human life. Someone who does not love or wish to be compassionate to others cannot be considered human. Human life is all about building and fostering relationships. As the adage goes, “No man is an island”. When a human ceases to care about others, he becomes animalistic in furthering his own desires, neither thinking nor caring about the people who are hurt in the process. In this way, I confidently say that corrupt government officials are appropriately called as “crocodiles” because they have forfeited their humanness for the sake of fulfilling their never-ending greed, akin to the unforgiving and ruthless predator.

Compassion as a Key Element to Humanness

Man who knows and accepts his own imperfections

Secondly, man is truly human when he acknowledges that he is imperfect. As Socrates once said, “The wise man is one who knows nothing”. With the limits of human reasoning and skills, man should be humble enough to accept that he cannot achieve perfection. Human life is all about development and learning. Humanness is achieved when man accepts his mistakes, and corrects them as he goes on to his journey of life. He accepts that everything in life that he has done still needs improvement, because of course, he is not a perfect being. To deny that he is imperfect is to deny one’s humanity because above all else, the human being is imperfect. Someone who does not want to change is too proud to see that he is stagnating himself from human life and slowly degenerating to animalistic tendencies of irrational tendencies. Humanness in the form of man as a being who knows, accepts and live with his imperfections is best argued by the Socratic adage, “The unexamined life is not worth living”.

The Best Wisdom is in Acknowledging Ignorance

Man as a believer

Lastly, humanness can be found beyond the self by knowing that there is a God, that there is someone Higher than you are. A human being is but helpless to fate and can only pray to a Higher Being. Even if this is so, humanness in terms of being a believer means that you live your life in the way through the eyes of one who appreciates everything in this world as created by your God. In this sense, you become compassionate to others because you see them as brothers and sisters, no matter what their faith. You love more fully because you acknowledge the mystery of the source of all love, your God. As a faithful believer, you no longer simply think about yourself but of others and most especially, of the God whom you believe in. Humanness can be found in the identity of being a believer because you acknowledge that you also need saving, and you also need to help our people find their salvation.

Prayers for Humanity

As a believer, you live not only for yourself, but also to pray for the welfare of others.
As a believer, you live not only for yourself, but also to pray for the welfare of others.


All in all, I believe that man is truly when he thinks and acts beyond himself, when he is compassionate to others, knows his imperfections, and believes in God. He must be selfless first before he can find his true self. To be stuck within oneself is to be stuck in stagnation. As much the self is a mystery, humanness is still a goal that is far-reaching. It does not just happen in an instant. To achieve the fullness of one's humanity, he or she must be able to acknowledge the need to grow in the discovery of how it is to be a true human, not simply a human by biological nature. If the human is too selfish, then he or she would not have the will to see beyond himself and discover the humanness that comes beyond the self.


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    • Ericdierker profile image

      Eric Dierker 

      2 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Wonderful article. Clearly we should all strive toward a humanness. Great style of writing.


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