On Being Fully Human
Fr. Shay Cullen
19 February 2016
The deplorable remarks of Philippine congressman and famous world boxing title holder Congressman Manny Pacquiao wherein he described gay people as “worse than animals” are vile comments that are to be condemned, rejected and repudiated in the strongest terms possible. He has since apologized.
We as humans have to recognize and respect the dignity of every human person and end discrimination of all kinds whether it be based on race, religion, gender, culture or social and economic status. As Pope Francis says, “Who are we to judge?”
US presidential candidate Donald Trump wants to build a wall to stop Mexican migrants and has insulted and condemned them as criminals and rapists and has called for the banning of Muslims coming into the United States. In response, the Pope said “A person who only thinks about building walls and not of bridges is not Christian, this is not gospel.”
Strong words of truth for those super rich who exploit and condemn the poor to lives of hardship and need. Christianity is based on the example and teaching of Jesus of Nazareth and the most important, outstanding value that he gave his life for was love and service to the poor and the needy and equality among all humans. That is a value rejected by the secular and materialistic world that has ignored what it means to be human. They allegedly only know of what it means to be rich.
Even children and people in old age with disabilities are disposable based on the economic costs to care for them. The immoral politicians and their rich supporters who get them into office prefer to abort children, deny medical support to disabled children and allow them to die or pressure the elderly to commit assisted or planned suicide. The tyrants of war are bombing, gassing and starving their fellow human beings into submission and extermination in Syria.
The right of all is to be accepted, respected, supported and free to love and be loved. It’s a basic human right to have the opportunity to a life of dignity and economic sustainability. But too many corrupt and immoral and discriminating politicians and billionaires rule the world. When 62 people have more wealth than half the world’s poorest, then we know that democracy has failed and might is declared to be right. This we have to oppose and we must promote the right of all especially the poor to a life free of discrimination and to live in a society based on human dignity and social justice.
As the BBC report puts it, Oxfam found that since 2010 the wealth of the richest 62 people – according to the Forbes’ billionaires list- has risen by 44 percent while the wealth of the poorest 3.5 billion people fell by 41 percent. The average annual income of the poorest 10 percent has risen by less than $3 (2.75 euros) a year in the past 25 years.
The billionaire Philippine boxer became a congressman, as did many other members of the Philippine congress, not on the strength of their wisdom and knowledge and ability to lead and legislate for 100 million Filipinos but on the mindless hoopla and media blitz surrounding their status as an entertainer or celebrity.
Movie stars have made it to the Congress and Senate with ease and have failed to deliver a performance worthy of a good actor. While there are many good decent and intelligent representatives in the Congress where 292 members make up the lower house and 24 in the Senate, many have little or no ability or insufficient experience and knowledge for the important task.
Some are there as representatives, not of the voters, whose votes they buy with the money of the super rich tycoons and the barons with billions whom they are beholden to. The votes of the legislators in congress are bought and sold to approve laws favoring one industry, business conglomerate or other foreign-vested interests.
In other words, Congress being dominated by millionaires tends to serve the rich rather than the poor. They do not see them as fully human. To the filthy rich, the poor are teeming masses of inferior creatures living in the dirt and disease-infested slums where their hovels squat in the towering shadows of the glittering condominiums of the rich.
In the aftermath of the comment of 37-year old Congressman Manny Pacquiao, the media should ask the candidates running for office in the May elections to name at least three of the unique attributes of being human, what makes one truly homo sapiens.
That question when asked is usually met with a stunned silence. It’s an unusual as many people have seldom if ever thought about themselves as being a different kind of animal and are not aware of what makes them fully human.
The wise philosopher directing his students to a perfect life advised them to “Know Thyself.” It is attributed to Socrates but to many other Greek philosophers also.
Knowing and being constantly aware of what makes us uniquely human and above the other animal species gives us a greater self-knowledge and richer, fuller life and we will come to respect and value every other human life.
The great dictum “Do to others as you would want them to do to you” is a guiding light and to live a life of dignity we must know and be aware that no person is lower or “worse than animals.” We are also spiritual beings endowed with unique attributes and abilities. You have just to ask yourself what are they.