Proud to be human

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Discussion by: Sjoerd Westenborg
Dear friends, 

there are plenty of things going on in the world that make me weep for humanity, and I’m sure many of you feel the same. Issues like parents refusing vaccination for their children, YEC, Uganda’s ‘kill the gays’ bill, the continued existence of a cult well known for covering up sexual abuse scandals spring to mind. (But for me, most of all, it’s my neighbour’s violin skills. Or lack thereof…)
But there is also much to be proud of. The mere existence of the Large Hadron Collider, as well as the discoveries being made there, the complete mapping of the human genome, people like Albert Einstein, Alan Turing, etc.
Forget the first category for the moment. What makes you guys proud to be human? It can be small personal anecdotes, world events we all know off, or even something you’re looking forward to. 
Cheers,
Sjoerd

28 COMMENTS

  1. A lot of things, which are really just one thing: a great capacity to better our life experience through learning and experimentation. It is this that brought us socks, ice cream, penicillin, the Curiosity rover, music, and the forum we are using to marvel together at what it is to be human.

  2. The Free Software Movement that is helping to spread the knowledge and skills of how to use probably humanity’s greatest invention so far – computers and the internet. The Information Age as it is becoming known could very well bring with it the second, and more powerful Enlightenment; it gives us incredibly powerful tools to help us with nearly every other field of scientific endeavour.

  3. I don’t think there has ever been a time where I have felt genuine pride for being Human, nor the latter. On occasion I do feel disappointed in Humanity. There are times when I find myself believing to be misanthropic, and wanting to be completely independent from this human nature, so I strive to better myself out of selfishness; at least that gives me pride.

  4. Proud to be human?
    Well I’m happy to be alive with the pleasure of reading this blog from contributors ;who dismiss the fatuous nonsense of religion and who support the backbone of our future destiny through science.
    I have often wondered whether scorn for dogma driven dicks is a pleasure?
    It’s certainly something that drives RD.

  5. It makes me proud to be human to be able to view the cosmos with the aid of technology and reach way back in time to the birth of stars, galaxies, planets etc. how wonderful it is, to be able to do this! Not only is it fantastic that we can do it, but fantastic to be alive NOW! Think back to the times when our reality was circumscribed by ignorance and superstition.

  6. Buildings: I live in a city and everyday I am in awe. I always notice. It never wears off.

    Dentistry. I am utterly amazed. I actually prefer my cyborg teeth to natural ones and would have all my teeth modified (root canal), except within 5-10 years they will have stem cell replacements.

    Lathes: Lathes are cool

    Anything space related. Walking on the Moon is the most extraordinary and meaningful thing we have ever done. It distinguishes us as a different order of life, and gives me hope for our future. Sometimes I think about what the world would be like if that had never happened.

    Cultivating ecosystems, preserving forests and species. No other species does that,

    I love this question, and think it belongs in this list, that we reflect upon these things is glorious.

  7. I am proud to have become a mostly self-educated, reasonably rational, free-thinking human.

    I am proud of living a relatively good, ethical, moral life – and understanding how that happens.

    I am proud of teaching my motor sports skills – to 2,000+ folk – through mostly voluntary work.

  8. I wouldn’t say proud is the right word, but I do feel lucky. I’m so glad I have the self-awareness and intelligence and luxuries other species do not, even if my knowledge is very limited indeed.

  9. Ashamed, not proud; ashamed that our species has not shaken off tribalism (nationalism/patriotism/religion).

    For all our vaunted intelligence and inventiveness it seems we will self- destruct due to this fundamental failure.

  10. The thing that makes me most proud, and kind of surprised, is how kind and civilised we (normally) are to complete strangers. I think it’s amazing that a human can travel round the world to another country and be recognised and treated as an equal by the local human inhabitants. It’s something we often take for granted but when you think about it, it’s extraordinary.

  11. Well said. Reminds me of Huxley’s response to Wilberforce,

    “If then, said I, the question is put to me would I rather have a miserable ape for a grandfather or a man highly endowed by nature and possessed of great means of influence & yet who employs these faculties & that influence for the mere purpose of introducing ridicule into a grave scientific discussion, I unhesitatingly affirm my preference for the ape.”

    In reply to #11 by Nodhimmi:

    Ashamed, not proud; ashamed that our species has not shaken off tribalism (nationalism/patriotism/religion).

    For all our vaunted intelligence and inventiveness it seems we will self- destruct due to this fundamental failure.

  12. In reply to #12 by Jumped Up Chimpanzee:

    The thing that makes me most proud, and kind of surprised, is how kind and civilised we (normally) are to complete strangers. I think it’s amazing that a human can travel round the world to another country and be recognised and treated as an equal by the local human inhabitants. It’s something we often take for granted but when you think about it, it’s extraordinary.

    Disagree- there exist very many places where the opposite applies; we are officially hated in the majority of Islamic countries. The class system in UK is still appalling, even in the USA moneyed people often despise the poor- recall Leona Helmsley’s “tax is for the little people” remark?

    Even allowing for ‘normally’ and ‘often’ we humans have a lot of improving to do before we can justify self- congratulation

  13. In reply to #10 by Boomerang Nebula:

    I wouldn’t say proud is the right word, but I do feel lucky. I’m so glad I have the self-awareness and intelligence and luxuries other species do not, even if my knowledge is very limited indeed.

    Lucky is the right word. Pride… hubris?

  14. Pride? No. I am deeply thrilled and privileged to have the best known seat in the universe to watch from. Thrilled to be part of this great “adventure of knowing” and trying to get yet better seats for all our kids (especially mine). To be a part of the most complex known organism in the universe, not brains but the culture they make with its greatest artifact, the exquisitely simple, pearl of logic and mathematics.

    Others aren’t as privileged as I. They fail to see the best of it through poverty of education (you don’t need much!) or poverty of imagination but most often through poverty pure and simple . Here is a good job to set ourselves.

  15. Much to be proud of: Our Artistic and Scientific achievements. Bach, Mozart, Britten, Debussy, Monteverdi, Cezanne, Turner, Leonardo, Michelangelo, Darwin, Mendel, Einstein, Maxwell, Dirac, Mendeleev, Curie, Shakespeare, Goethe, Schiller, Blake (when sane), Heine, Dante etc, etc.

    Ashamed of:Not enough women or non-Europeans allowed to contribute to, Racial and sexual discrimination; in short:bigotry of all kinds, Hitler, Poll pot, The opium wars but there are just too many to choose.

    In short: Our ability to learn and improve, albeit too slowly and with relapses.

  16. Anything space related. Walking on the Moon is the most extraordinary and meaningful thing we have ever done. It distinguishes us as a different order of life, and gives me hope for our future.

    I agree with This Is Not A Meme. We’re the only animal in our planet’s history, with the possible exception of some of the smaller dinosaurs when the meteor hit 65 million years ago, which has managed to escape the bonds of Earth’s gravity and enter space. I’m not counting the monkeys, Laika and all those fruitflies as they went up on our dime.

    Nature has imbued us with an almost infinite wanderlust. It’s given us not just the desire to make boats, motorcars, submarines, airplanes and now rockets but the intellectual wherewithal and mechanical ability to put such pipe dreams into reality.

    In that spirit, I would like to list a few of the people whose vision, brains and sometimes sheer guts have in some way changed the world, and make me proud to be a member of this race of ape-descended life forms so primitive that many of them still think digital watches are a pretty neat idea.

    In no particular order, they are:

    Thomas Paine

    William Shakespeare

    Billie Holiday

    Che Guevara

    George Gordon Byron

    Karl Marx

    Stephen Fry

    Mary Shelley

    Leonard Cohen

    Mary Wollstonecraft

    Douglas Noel Adams

    Rosa Parks

    Charles Chaplin

    Ray Bradbury

    Florence Nightingale

    William Butler Yeats

    Ludwig van Beethoven

    Nelson Mandela

    Sylvia Plath

    Humphrey Lyttelton

    Leonardo da Vinci

    Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy

    Orville and Wilbur Wright

    Oliver Cromwell (apologies to any Irish RDnet members)

    Richard Wagner (ditto for Jewish members)

    Emmeline Pankhurst

    Elton Hercules John

    Charles Dickens

    Amy Winehouse

    Marie Curie…

    I’d include a list of people who make me ashamed to be a human, but that thing would go on forever.

  17. In reply to #21 by Katy Cordeth:

    What the heck is going on with the formatting? Is space at such a premium on RDnet nowadays that breaks between lines are verboten? It looks awful.

    I fear it will completely murder this Hamlet quote:
    I have of late, but wherefore
    I know not, lost all my mirth
    and indeed, it goes so heavily with my disposition;
    that this goodly frame the Earth, seemes to me a sterrill
    Promontory; this most excellent Canopy the Ayre,
    look you, this brave ore-hanging firmament,
    this Majestical Roof,
    fretted with golden fire: why,
    it appeares no other thing
    to me, then a foul and pestilent congregation of vapours.
    What a piece of work is a man,
    How noble in Reason, how infinite in faculties,
    how like an angel in apprehension
    how like a God !
    the beauty of the world,
    the paragon of animals. and yet to me,
    what is this quintessence of dust?
    Man delights not me; no,
    nor Woman neither;

  18. I assumed the OP meant homo sapiens? Your list seems a bit Eurocentric, except for couple of political activists. And also a big sausage fest :)

    Ada Lovelace

    Arundhati Roy

    Annie Besant

    Aung San Suu Ki

    Ayaan Hirsi Ali

    Florence Nightingale

    Lana Wachowski

    Vandana Shiva

    Kalpana Chawla

    Lisa Randall

    Hmm, I just realized that my list isn’t a true representation of our species either. Well I thought I was racially-colourblind*. Looks like I am not that well informed after all. A big case of pot calling the kettle black.

    *coined by Stephen Colbert

    In reply to #19 by Katy Cordeth:

    In no particular order, they are:

    Thomas Paine

    William Shakespeare

    Billie Holiday

    Che Guevara

    George Gordon Byron

    Karl Marx

    Stephen Fry

    Mary Shelley

    Leonard Cohen

    Mary Wollstonecraft

    Douglas Noel Adams

    Rosa Parks

    Charles Chaplin

    Ray Bradbury

    Florence Nightingale

    William Butler Yeats

    Ludwig van Beethoven

    Nelson Mandela

    Sylvia Plath

    Humphrey Lyttelton

    Leonardo da Vinci

    Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy

    Orville and Wilbur Wright

    Oliver Cromwell (apologies to any Irish RDnet members)

    Richard Wagner (ditto for Jewish members)

    Emmeline Pankhurst

    Elton Hercules John

    Charles Dickens

    Amy Winehouse

    Marie Curie…

  19. from wiki:

    “Pride is an inwardly directed emotion that carries two common meanings. With a negative connotation, pride refers to an inflated sense of one’s personal status or accomplishments, often used synonymously with hubris. With a positive connotation, pride refers to a satisfied sense of attachment toward one’s own or another’s choices and actions, or toward a whole group of people, and is a product of praise, independent self-reflection, or a fulfilled feeling of belonging. Philosophers and social psychologists have noted that pride is a complex secondary emotion which requires the development of a sense of self and the mastery of relevant conceptual distinctions (e.g., that pride is distinct from happiness and joy) through language-based interaction with others.[1] Some social psychologists identify it as linked to a signal of high social status.[2] In contrast pride could also be defined as a disagreement with the truth. One definition of pride in the first sense comes from St. Augustine: “the love of one’s own excellence”.[3] In this sense, the opposite of pride is either humility or guilt; the latter in particular being a sense of one’s own failure in contrast to Augustine’s notion of excellence.

    Pride is sometimes viewed as excessive or as a vice, sometimes as proper or as a virtue. While some philosophers such as Aristotle (and George Bernard Shaw) consider pride a profound virtue, some world religions consider it a sin, such as is expressed in Proverbs 11:2 of the Old Testament.”

    I understood Sjoerd to be referencing the postive aspects of the definition.

    Mike

  20. I am definetely not convinced that being human is something to be proud of.
    Look at the terrible crimes which humans have committed on each other, such as the holocaust and the inquisition for instance.
    Everything which has been called crime against humanity in the Nuremberg Trials first and nowadays in the Hague is in fact human and only human!
    Animals don´t do that!

  21. In reply to #28 by wilke appeldorn:

    I for my part would not like to call myself a human at least not in the sense of homo sapiens sapiens
    The wisdom seeking man that is something we could talk about

    Odd you mention that- I proposed a discussion on the nomenclature but it has not been accepted.
    To me the name sounds pompous and arrogant; better something like ‘intelligent man’??

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