What it means to be human is to bring up your children in safety, educate them, keep them healthy, teach them how to care for themselves and others, allow them to develop in their own way among adults who are sane and responsibile, who know the value of the world and not its economic potential. It means art, it means time, it means all the invisibles never counted by the GDP and the census figures. It means knowing that life has an inside as well as an outside. And I think it means love.
Being a Negro in America means trying to smile when you want to cry. It means trying to hold on to physical life amid psychological death. It means the pain of watching your children grow up with clouds of inferiority in their mental skies. It means having their legs off, and then being condemned for being a cripple.
To become fully human means learning to turn my gratitude for being alive into some concrete common good. It means growing gentler toward human weakness. It means practicing forgiveness of my and everyone else's hourly failures to live up to divine standards. It means learning to forget myself on a regular basis in order to attend to the other selves in my vicinity. It means living so that "I'm only human" does not become an excuse for anything. It means receiving the human condition as blessing and not curse, in all its achingly frail and redemptive reality.
<< previousnext >>