What Qualities Best Define Humanity?
From the dawn of time mankind has manifest many qualities, both good and bad, but which of these captures our essence the best?
Some consider greed a negative quality, others consider is a powerful and essential driving force. It is a nasty fact of human nature that we tend to look out for ourselves and always want more. No matter how much progress we make, no matter how much money we earn, we are never satisfied. On a fundamental level greed has driven the whole of human progress.
Some might say that mankind's most defining quality rests in our striving spirit. Our history is full of men and women who strove against impossible odds and achieved great things. Be it a cure for cancer or the cookie jar at the top shelf, mankind will continue to strive for truth, justice, civility, and convenience.
Besides ants, humans are one of the only species to wage mass warfare. What is it in our nature that causes this endless chain of violence? Wars, suicide bombings, school violence, gangs, and domestic abuse are ever-present and show no signs of waning. Do we merely fight for power, or is there something else? Oddly enough, the most disastrous wars are also the most recent.
Floods, famines, ice ages, hurricanes, military invasions, economic collapses, the threat of nuclear holocaust -- humanity has seen it all and somehow managed to come through. Something in our nature never lets us give up. We suck it up and work through the pain until we get what we want. Come hell or high water mankind will persevere.
Humanity is uniquely creative. We are also the only species to develop art. Painting, sculpture, architecture, literature, poetry, film... and the list goes on. Anything the previous generation only dreamed off, the following generation accomplished. We have used our creativity to solve seemingly impossible problems and develop near-magical technologies.
Mankind's fellowship is evidence of our humanity. Man has always been akin to his fellow man, always eager in sharing the burden, if not the spoils, of the journey. Although we may seem more distant in today's digital, internet age, we are in fact more connected than ever. Fellowship forms the foundation of modern day societies.
Mankind is the only duty-bound species on Earth. We take oaths to protect our homeland; we feel an obligation to work our very hardest; and we value loyalty. Without a sense of duty we could not live up to our full potential and overcome the challenges that no one wants to face on his own.
As much as we like to take credit for our achievements, there's no denying the incredible influence of luck. Some of our greatest discoveries, like Penicillin, were the result of sheer accident. But for a lucky twist of fate, the Cuban Missile Crisis would have inveigled the planet in ash. Consider how fortunate we are to be living on a planet just far enough from the Sun to keep us warm, and by what freak accident we acquired intelligence.
The average American works nearly 2,000 hours per year. The average Indian works over 3,000. And even though we have made dramatic technological advances in the past two thousand years, we work harder than ever. Perhaps human are the true beasts of burden. With our combined diligenc, humanity has reshaped an entire planet.
Humans are naturally social. We obey organized religion; we wage wars we don't believe in; we shop at the same times; we eat the same things; we like the same movies; and we laugh at the same stupid YouTube videos. We like to think of ourselves as unique, but from a birds-eye-view, are we really different than sheep? In truth, we are all cogs in the "humanity machine", but some of us more so than others.