Faith in Humanity (part one)

Doubt or fith, opposite signs. Two blank opposite signs against blue sky background.

To ask someone to have faith in humanity is not unlike asking them to have faith in God.

This statement sounds absurd: why would we need to have faith in humanity in the first place? Humanity is something that is manifest to us every day; something that we ourselves are a part of – why then should we need to have faith in what we are?

What’s more, we can define ourselves scientifically, as a species, the homo sapiens, animals with self-consciousness that stand erect on two legs and have thumbs and smiles and understand irony etc.. No-one doubts that humanity exists.

But that scientific definition, actually tells us very little about ourselves and our social interactions, purposes and desires. A proper all-encompassing description of humanity would be something else, something harder to grasp – it is our shared humanity that is the fundamental reason why we should be able reach out to each other and why we should feel united with each other. These reasons remain undisclosed, and to believe them requires a certain faith. Humanity (now with a capital H) as something we truly belong to is not a manifest thing, it is an abstraction embedded in Truth, with a capital T. We feel it must exist, and, by believing in it, it can bring meaning to our lives. Doesn’t this sound very much like a rationalisation of faith in God?

Not only is it through Humanity alone that we know Humanity, but it is through Humanity that we come to know ourselves. Without Humanity we do not know what our life, nor our death, nor humanity, nor ourselves really are …

This passage is a direct rewrite of a text by Pascal in which we have swapped the terms God and Jesus Christ with Humanity. The result carries a philosophical coherence, and points to why the Church has historically been so fearful of humanistic thought. However, Pascal, went on to point out that it is through the scriptures, which has Jesus Christ as their object, that God is revealed. Therefore, to continue with this shadowing of Pascal’s thought, we need to ask ourselves what the equivalent of the scriptures would be for Humanity. What written text reveals Humanity?

This is a pertinent question, especially as most of what has been fabricated and taught about the human condition has been stewed from an anti-human point of view, depicting human nature as an egocentrically segregating and separating force, and human beings as vain, competitive creatures. In the anti-human narrative Humanity gets buried, until we can no longer see the forest for the trees. Faith needs its own testimony, a witness that Humanity has never had.

So, what can we, those of us who want to believe in Humanity, base our faith on?

Of course, a great reservoir of humanity exists in the arts and sciences themselves, but not in any clear, defining way other than the testimony their very existence itself gives to what we are, but if we want a clear and concise description of Humanity to build our faith on, we need to look at a document like the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.  

This bill, drawn up by the United Nations in 1948, describes Humanity as the human family, and, if we return to our shadowing of Pascal and his text on the scriptures, we could say that – without the Declaration of Human Rights, which has Humanity as its sole object, we know nothing and see only darkness and confusion in the nature of humanity and in nature itself.

Through a faith in the Declaration, as humanity’s scriptural word, faith in Humanity is revealed. Act according to the commands and orders of the Human Rights and you will start believing in Humanity.

This is the kind of logic that religious faith is built on, but: Is it applicable to the Declaration which was more concerned with guidance for political states than in giving moral advice to individuals? In any case, each article in the Declaration does give us clues as to how a human being should act in human society, and how we should treat the other members of our human family.

Let’s look at the first seven articles:

Article 1: tells us that we should act towards each other in a spirit of brotherhood, respecting each other’s dignity and rights.

Article 2: that the brotherhood has no distinctions of any sort. If you are human you have the same dignity and rights as any other human being and should treat all others accordingly.

Article 3: tells us to respect the life, liberty, and security of all other humans.

Article 4: condemns slavery and servitude, implying that these things are anti-human activities and need always to be condemned.

Article 5: the same is true of torture.

Article 6: states that all humans should have the right to be recognised as persons (and therefore humans). Therefore, to be human yourself, you need to recognise all others as human.

Article 7: all are equal before the law.

Everyone is human, of course, but Faith in Humanity belongs to those who are able to act and live in a Human-faith way, which is according to Human Scripture (the Declaration). Faith demands that one has confidence in the object’s of one’s faith. Humans, of course, often act in anti-human ways, but to have faith in Humanity despite its flaws is certainly no more absurd than to believe in God despite all the flaws in the creation.

(Read part two: Faith in Humanity (part two) | pauladkin (wordpress.com) )

GETTING HUMANITY OUT OF ITS DEPRESSION

If we are with someone who is depressed we might tell them that only they themselves can pull themselves back on track, and the reason for giving this advice is simple – the purposes and grounds that determine and support our lives are individual, personal ones. Perhaps they include a family and they are no doubt embellished with certain other marking factors – stamps of identity, memberships, beliefs and ideologies. In fact, the mesh is so complex that if our friend tells us that he or she is feeling down and lacks the motivation to go on and we ask why? our friend will probably reply that he or she doesn’t know. Perhaps there are clear reasons for the break down, perhaps not, the point is that whether there are or not, when we ask why, they don’t know the answer. They don’t know because the reasons for the purposes and grounds that we stand on are themselves flimsy ones, without any more than a superficial substance based on a measuring of our lives against the lives of others.

This measuring of ourselves is void of any meaningful placement of ourselves within the entirety of things. As soon as we let our thoughts stray toward this entirety we are doomed.  Pascal’s nightmare of “the eternal silence of these empty spaces,” terrifies us all, and, like Pascal, we could drop into the religious for comfort, but even so, the day to day flimsiness still whirls around us and even the churches seem full of this flimsiness.

The temples feed us with man-made dogmas that supposedly come from our omnipotent creator only to make us more guilt-ridden than happy with our place in the world. In theory the monotheistic religions should draw us into the universal and allow us to embrace humanity, but they fail to do this because their dogmas are separating ones, buried in a narrative of good versus evil; of accomplishment versus failure; of our message against theirs.

Decentred, an individual needs to be centred again within the ecumenical whole, and the real community for the individual human being must be humanity itself. Only by positing ourselves with humanity itself can we start to find concrete answers to the why question.

Not only is the damage done by the devaluating of the human a psychological or spiritual problem, it has also pushed us to the brink of existential disaster in our persistent ecological damage to the biosphere that maintains us and all life forms on this planet. The lack of humanity as the measure of all human values and internecine promotion of sectarianism and separations will only keep us on a knife-edge over an annihilating abyss.

Nevertheless, this pessimistic condition has an optimistic side. As Nietzsche believed, the devaluing will lead to a revaluing. The nihilism embedded in our anti-humanity civilisation will become clearer and clearer to the individuals who suffer the consequences of that nihilism, a clarity that will create necessary revaluations and new purposes and grounds for existence, based, hopefully on unifying rather than separating elements. A will to be human, or to be Sapiens. But, in order for human power to be liberated we must accept that nihilism reigns in the world and understand that our nihilistic civilisation is working against humanity rather in its favour.

At the moment we stand at a crucial crossroads between a great revaluation of civilisation or a nihilistic slide into nightmarish dystopias or even internecine destruction and annihilation. Fukuyama preached we had reached the end of history[i]. Quite the contrary, we stand at the doorstep of its beginning – what we call the historical process so far has been an anti-human historical process that needs to be shut down in order to allow for a truly human history to take shape.

Both science and philosophy have led us beyond the magical relationship with the suprasensory. Sacrifices are no longer intelligible acts of bonding with the universal. What really binds us is the fact that we all possess rational minds that need to understand and articulate the reality around us. The real purposes and groundwork for our lives lies in our thoughts and imaginations and our capacity to perceive and dream a Universe that finds itself fulfilled. A Universe in which its own Being is authenticated in the representation of itself in our collective minds.

[i] See Francis Fukuyama THE END OF HISTORY AND THE LAST MAN