Who or what makes us human beings? That is a question many ask, and there is no simple answer. It really is just a matter of our history, short and long term, if one uses the widest meaning of the word. Our history defines who we are, and while one cannot change history, one can change our future, which will over time, add to our total history. We can all change something in our life to make us a better person, we just have to want to do it!
While the above comments might seem obvious, there a a few matters relating to this that I would like to explore. For a starters, what happened five minutes ago is true history, and what happened 50 or more years ago is also pure history, and either one could well have changed your entire world. Everyone is a result of our own history, whether it be genetic, environmental or whatever, we are who we are, because of our own history. If you were in a major car accident a few minutes ago, your world would change forever, and, who you are as a person. Who your parents or grandparents were, and what they did, will have affected who you are and how you approach your current life.
If one considers the extreme time that the world has been in existence, our history reaches back billions of years, that’s right, billions of years. Our very existence, or should I say, our very world, came into existence as a result of the Big Bang, and things have evolved ever since. What happened that long ago has a great deal to do with whether us humans, or in fact, any animals as we know them, would ever have come into existence at all. So history, from a few minutes ago, to a few billion years ago, is relevant to us all.
Now let’s move on the us human beings, who are, in the overall scheme of things, very recent arrivals. Regardless of what some may think, we have evolved from the most basic of animals, probably a primitive form of dinosaur. Our more recent relatives are members of the ape family, and, if you have ever watched a chimpanzee for any length of time you can see the resemblance, both physically and mentally. In other words, we are an animal in the true sense of the word, even if we have developed our mental abilities somewhat over the last few hundred thousands of years or so. The relatively modern civilized world, as we know it, has only been around for some 6,000 years or so.
Let’s now consider our more recent history, we are who we are, but how did we get to that stage? Firstly, we cannot change our DNA, although it would be interesting for most of us to be able to see who our great, great grandparents and beyond were. It would probably help us understand more fully why we are like we are! The environment that we, and that our early and more recent forebears lived through, makes up the other approximate half of who we really are. We are all, after all, a mix of both our DNA on one hand, and our own environment from the day we were born till right now on the other!
It is a rather interest phenomenon that us humans very rarely consider who our partners in life really are. What I am talking about here is breeding, which is often considered to be a taboo subject when talking about human beings. We do not consider it strange or weird talking about the family tree of our dog, bird, horse or cat, from a breeding point of view, but we seem to completely ignore similar thoughts or discussions when it comes to us humans. While one does not want to legitimize the actions or policies of the 1930’s Third Reich, they are one of the few societies that have even discussed the point. I am not suggesting that any current society take this step, but it is rather interesting that us humans usually completely ignore the question of breeding when selecting partners, when we often make a big thing out of a pets breeding program. Maybe pet breeding is more important to some?
Our very own history, for each one of us is unique, contributes to every part of who we are. Whether it was 5 minutes ago, 5 years ago or 5 hundred years ago, every part of that timeline defines who we are this very day. Who our ancestors were 5 hundred years ago. although diluted somewhat over the generations, decided progressively who you are. Obviously, more recent relatives will make a greater impact, but all earlier generations have contributed to who all of us are. Where our ancestors lived, how they lived and who they associated with have contributed something to every one of us.
While many of us seem to think that we are far removed from every other animal, but at the end of the day we are just the same, but with more brain power that all other animals. The question is, does that additional brain power really make us that different? The basic instincts of every animal is in all of us, it just varies in strength according to our DNA and our environmental learning. Some of us human beings seem to think and act in a very basic animalistic manner. Could some of us be considered more human like than others. or are some humans more like their long lost ancient forefathers? Is this the reason why some people act as they do? Have there been any detailed research into why the above seems to be the case? Are some human beings influenced more by their DNA than from their lifelong environment? Does the ratio between these two factors vary greatly between different people, and does that greatly influence who they are?
To finish off I will ask a few questions here that I would like every reader to consider answering, not in general terms, but as they relate to you.
1/ Have you every actively thought about who you really are as a human being?
2/ Do you believe your DNA (ancestors, including parents) has been the greatest influence in determining who you are? or
3/ Do think that environmental influences have been more predominate in deciding who you are?
4/ If you could change your history, which part would you like to change?
5/ What person has had the most influence in shaping your life?
6/ Are you reasonably content in who you are?
7/ Have you considered what changes you could make in your life to better your future?
8/ Would you like to change your personality?
9/ Has thinking about any of the above made you think deeper into who you really are?
I am not expecting anyone to send me any answers to any of the above questions, but I would just like you, the reader, to give some thought to them, and hopefully come to some conclusions. Understanding ourselves more fully will allow everyone of us to become a better human being. What more could one want?
3 thoughts on “Who are you?”
In response to your opening sentence/question, I would suggest that opposable thumbs play a role in who we are as a species. That we do not have opposable big toes may be what separates us from our closest cousins.
For most of our lives, humans are goal oriented. While some of those goals are biological, some goals, for example the answers to your numbered questions, are philosophical. Nonetheless, goals predominate human behavior. Often our goas are conflicting and messy.
Warmest regards, Ed
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Ed, Thanks for your comments – they are always appreciated. Are you suggesting that the only difference between us and our ape cousins are our big toes? I hope we have evolved slightly more than that. Humans are indeed goal orientated, but then our bigger brains provides us the ability to do that, and I doubt that many of us use that to anywhere near our best advantage. And so us human beings just keep jogging along, often in the wrong direction.
Thanks once again for your comments.
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No, there is our voice box too 🙂 Warmest regards, Ed