How to Become Better: Human the Project

 

An incredible project was made public in September 2015. – a project followed with almost no media attention but more enlightening and eye-opening than many we have seen in a long time.
It is called ‘Human‘.

In a series of interviews with people all around the globe, combined with breathtaking aerial shots of our magnificent Mother Earth and with stunning background music, author Yann Arthus-Bertrand tries to answer the question what is it that makes human: a question we all ought to stop and ask ourselves.

He explains his inspiration by saying simply:

“I am one man among seven billion others. For the past 40 years, I have been photographing our planet and its human diversity, and I have the feeling that humanity is not making any progress. We can’t always manage to live together.
Why is that?
I didn’t look for an answer in statistics or analysis, but in man himself.”

Indeed…

What is it that makes us human?
What is it that distinguishes us from other Earthly creatures?
What is it that makes our lives worthwhile?

It might be difficult, if at all possible, to answer these questions, but listening closely to the stories might get us closer to the truth. And some are uncannily breathtaking, to the point they seem unbelievable.

Take Ruth, for example…

“Here’s what happened: a German officer in as SS uniform entered the ghetto one rainy night. My mother told him: “Take my daughter.” She lifted the wire fence and handed him her baby, me, a Jewish girl, two and a half years old. And with a heavy heart, she put me in the hands of a wonderful man in an SS uniform.
I now know that this man, Alois Pleva, served in the German army and lived near the German border. This man put me in his coat. He hid me inside his coat and took me to the border between Germany and Poland to his parents. They passed me off as his daughter. They raised me in the purest Catholic tradition until the end of the war.
What a gesture! What magic, this outstretched hand! Like sparks of light in what we call human folly.

Sometimes a question comes to mind. If I had been in a situation like that, would I have acted in the same way as that German officer? How can I answer such a question? I don’t think I would have had the moral strength to do it, in all honesty. Maybe. Did he know he had the strength? How can you know?
How can you recognize the moment of truth when you can sacrifice yourself, sacrifice the only life you have for someone else?
There’s no answer to that question. Or a question others can answer.
But this question must be asked.

What is amazing is how, through listening to the stories, we reach the point of better understanding other human beings, which leads us to more love in this world.

When we listen to Jean-Pierre, for example.

“Not feeling acknowledged. Not feeling understood. Not feeling loved by your family, quite simply. Loved, but not loved for who you are. You want to share something. A homosexual doesn’t know if it’s wrong or not. If he’s told it’s good, or rather, that’s how it is, he doesn’t think that… It’s more or less like someone who worries  that he has cancer. He’s anxious. He needs to hear he isn’t sick. A homosexual wonders what’s wrong with him. He doesn’t know if it’s serious or not and what will happen to him.
There’s nothing more wonderful than parents who say: “So what? You’re gay, so what? As long as you’re happy.”
It’s so obvious! This “So what?” is so often lacking.

A documentary could not have been created without raising some very actual issues that affect the world, maybe best sublimed in what Mouneer from Jordan said.

“There are two parties. Both are Syrian. I have friends and family in both. They are ready to take up arms and kill their neighbors, in the name of politics.
They forget the essential: humanity.
Politics is just relations between powerful nations and people. We’re little guys. We’ll never change anything.

I’ve seen death with my own eyes. I’ve seen my friends lying there, lifeless. When the explosions started, there was one very close to my house. It wrecked my taxi. I saw blood, people’s legs, heads, and arms on the ground.
When I saw all that, it filled me with fear and sorrow. Man can become a monster.
I don’t trust anyone, anymore, except myself. It’s over.
That is why I cut myself off from relations with souls: with every form of human being. It all means nothing.

And there are some ever-present, never solved issues. We might see them in a whole different light once we are faced with the influence they have on our fellow humans – like Sylver from Rwanda.

“What I’ll never forget is what I saw at the time. The fact that one person killed another with a machete.
The reason I can’t forget is that a large part of my family was killed. Before my eyes. What I can’t forget is that the killers cut up a living person with a machete, right in front of me.
I can’t forget it because it happened.
I experienced it.
But it’s incomprehensible.
And impossible to forget.

There is a pearl of wisdom shared by Sergey form Russia, the one that got me choked.

“Maybe these atrocities make people more violent, because they want to avenge them. Even though I can understand that, I try to keep my humanity.
Once you have killed a man, it becomes clear to you you can never hope for heavenly peace, for peace within yourself. When you have killed your enemy, he is no longer an enemy.
So why did you kill him?
It’s an endless cycle. That’s simply the way human nature is.
When you kill a man, only afterward do you realize you should avoided going that far.
Because then, you live with that for the rest of your life. It’s not easy. ”

With the tragic stories we come to realization it is fear that awakens and ignites some of the most terrible actions towards our fellow humans. Fear, the only opposite of love, can only be conquered by love.
And sometimes this very love is concealed in child’s innocence and wisdom… Like touching Tatyana‘s story…

“When I was six years old my parents and I went to the supermarket. It was far away. We had to take a bus. At the big store, we walked through the toy department. I stopped short in front of a glass case containing a magnificent doll. Of course, I had no idea how much things cost. So my mother said to me:
“I can’t afford to buy you this doll.”
And I answered her like a wise old woman:
Mama, I’m not asking you to buy her. I just want you to let me admire her a little.
My mother still weeps when she tells this story.”

This all is love, and if we all try to put more love into this world we might create a better, more peaceful place for all… As Daniel from Mexico simply explains….

Love is the beginning and the end. Love is where we come from, where we’re going and what we live between the two.
Love is everything.

Quite.

Immaculate in its entirety, Human, all three extended parts, is maybe the most appropriate watching suggestion this holiday season.

Love Gina Wings

 

Don’t Be Fooled: It Is Not Only Humans Who Do Sex For Fun

Meet bonobo apes: along with chimpanzees human’s closest relative, the three species sharing 99% genome.

Chimp_bonobo_Darwin

 chimp & bonobo & Darwin

image credit: National Geographic

Bonobos and chimpanzees diverged some 2 million years ago and have developed in quite different directions. While chimps are male dominated, strictly patriarchal society with alpha males and increased aggressiveness, bonobos live in a matriarchal society, are peaceful, calm and, to humans’ greatest surprise, quite sexual.

Bonobos have sex for sex’ sake and do it quite often with quite many partners. They are creative in it, too: performing oral sex, changing partners regardless the gender and… oh, well… you get the idea… sky is the limit, and bonobos, similar to their human counterparts, are quite imaginative indeed.

“The greatest difficulty which presents itself, when we are driven to the above conclusion on the origin of man (evolution through natural selection), is the high standard of intellectual power and moral disposition which he has attained.”

Charles Darwin, The Descent of Man (1871)

But, is it really so?

Is Mr. Darwin right, or he simply did not know better?

Now we know bonobos: emotional, emphatic, sexual and peaceful. It is important to point out that the species was first distinguished in 1928, and described in detail in a study by Eduard Paul Tratz and Heinz Heck published in the early 1950s. Yet, with this knowledge, I can not help but wonder:

Are we – humans – more intelligent and hence more advanced, or have we only not understood, or did not know our bonobo relative that well?

It is believed that sexuality has created humans: the moment we had raised on two feet, making our private parts not so easily attainable and quite concealed, sex has become an endless game of romance, seduction, pleasure and deceit. The game is so irresistible that we are prone to submission our lives to it, we live for it, we drive our zest for life from it.

In case of us, humans, is it derived from the simple biological imperative of reproduction so the show must go on, or do we do it for pleasure’s sake only?

And, if we do it for pleasure, how has it come in the picture in the first place?

We may check our relatives, bonobos, again… peaceful in nature,they are real animal hippies. It is believed that such calm nature of bonobos is the result of their sexuality: for them, sex is a way of reaching and experiencing pleasure, relieving stress and bonding. Considering they have sex quite often, it is no wonder they indeed are calm and cool. The developed sexuality is presumed to be a result of the abundant living environment they live in. Bonobos’ habitat is a 500,000 km2  (190,000 sq mi) area of the Congo river basin in the Democratic Republic of Congo: rain forest area with plenty of food within one’s reach. Therefore our relatives, unlike chimps, have never had the need to search for food, or have experienced the lack of it. Knowing not of scarcity has provided for spare time they can use to develop other interests – sex being one of the main. This further provides for possibility to create alliances and connections which is more attributable to females. Maybe this best explains why bonobos are matriarchal.

Musing further on this, a thought comes to mind: maybe we, humans, are not as advanced and superior as we like to see ourselves, but rather are unaware of other species and their ways.

It might be sex, it might be woman power, but bonobos indeed are one of the most interesting animal tribes.

Love Gina Wings