What is the Human Condition?


What is the human condition indeed? When you synthesize distill and peel back the layers of life what are you left with? Death. Life will ultimately lead to death. All life comes with the instinct to survive be it the individual, the colony, the species. You could take a step further back and ponder what is life. Could you not argue that any complex system is life? The earth, is it alive? The solar system? The universe? They all follow a life cycle. There are many attempts at a definition for life but what is life really? From our very limited very small perspective will we ever know. The very large and the very small life cycles are all right in font of our noses the answers are right in front of us but will we ever be able to perceive the answer. I don’t know. I doubt it. Not in our current form anyway. We are currently blind to the obnoxiously obvious.
What are we anyway? We’re energy and matter. The magic maybe in quantum physics in the moment that matter becomes energy and energy becomes matter. There are many contexts where we use this phenomenon now to power our lives. Fire for instance very cool thing that’s right in front of our noses will we truly understand the force we harness everyday in our own lives. The ability of plants to turn light energy into life energy. Very cool very exciting. Well, we understand it?

To quote the character Proximo from the movie “Gladiator” at the beginning and at the end of “life” all we are, are “Shadows and Dust”.When you look at human life in the context of time. 100 years before we are born who is thinking about us? No one. 20 years before we are born who is thinking about us? Maybe a wistful child looking forward to becoming a parent one day. Maybe no one. When we are conceived what are the answers to the questions; who will we be?, what will we be?, how will we live?. The answers are ultimately I don’t know, uncertainty. When we are born what are the answers to those very same question? Again “I don’t know”, again uncertainty. When we die who will think of us? The ones who’s lives we’ve touched perhaps. What about in 20 years who will remember us who will think of us? Perhaps those who’s lives we’ve touched, perhaps no one. What about in 100 years. Unless we made some major contribution, probably no one.

So what’s the point? So what? Why would we live then? We’ll at some level we exploit genetic knowledge passed along to us. We are constantly mutating constantly changing to conform to and adjust to our changing context of life. During our life we learn and exploit stories be they genetic, art or science to give meaning to our days and make the stories relevant to our context to our time. During our life we add to the genetic, art and science knowledge of our species. Have you noticed the stories about the human condition that are recast and retold over time. There is your homework. Go look. Let me know. There are surprisingly few stories that are truly original, originality comes in how those stores are retold. Life exploits knowledge gained from mutated attempts at living. Through our genetics and our stories, arts and science, we exploit and expand knowledge. Ultimately to quote the character Maximus from the movie “Gladiator”, “What We Do in Life Echos in Eternity”.

Is the human ability to pass on knowledge, arts and science, over and above genetic information the difference between human life and other forms of life? Or, perhaps all life pass on stories also, we humans, just can’t perceive or recognize it as such. All life experiences pain and pleasure as part of survival capabilities. Its a way for our life context to tell us this is a good thing or this is a bad thing or this is a good idea or this really isn’t such a good idea. All life mutates and adapts and when it can’t anymore it ceases in that form. Nature is very harsh, it works or can work better, or it doesn’t. Life demands diversity. When the knowledge of life, be it genetic or arts and science or history, becomes homogenized life ceases.

Uncertainty, knowledge, diversity, is that the human condition? Don’t each of us while we are alive want to find out who and what we are? To see what we can do and what we are capable of? We want to believe that our life will make a difference that we will continue on after our death. Our lives are filled with much pain and pleasure of all kinds both physical, emotional. Isn’t our will to survive reflected in our drive our tenacity to live? We all have to have faith that our live isn’t all there is, isn’t for nothing pointless or meaningless. Ultimately how we’ve lived is important as well.

So what about disability? Since life is constantly mutating adapting to the changing context of life. Could disability be an attempt by nature to find new traits that will perpetuate life? Could disability be an attempt by nature at creating diversity? Creating a stronger foundation for life. Could disability be a systematic mistake by life? Perhaps a rounding or conversion error. There are those that would “engineer” out disability, disease, unwanted traits to make life easier, less painful. Ultimately we’ll all live and we’ll all die. Do we have the vision to determine what traits will be necessary for our species to survive? What if we pull out the wrong piece and we become inviable? I have to wonder I personally can see 90% to 95% less than what is considered the norm. Yet I perform in the top 1% to 5% of the population. I’m sorry I would want to be “normal”. I have to ask who is ultimately disabled? I also have to ask ultimately who is “normal”? Who has more pleasure or more pain? You or me? I wonder. Ultimately does it matter? We are all adding to the knowledge that will enable our species to survive and thrive or die.

What is the human condition? Uncertainty, knowledge, diversity, and faith. Perhaps not even that. When its our turn how we die is as important as how we’ve lived.

About the Author:

Kyle has ocular albinism and has been legally blind since birth. Kyle leads a very active live and is besides his professional career involved in many projects for persons who are different.

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