What is it that makes a good human being?
In today’s society, which is heavily influenced by the “news,” entertainment, and corporate media, this becomes a bit of a trick question, because although we intrinsically know the answer that ensures the continued existence of the human race —
“Someone who is kind, compassionate, gentle with the weak, generous to the poor, responsible, and thoughtful — in the sense that they think,”
we get caught up by the message that we’re fed, which is,
“A good human being is a successful human being, one who is wealthy, powerful, and driven.”
Naturally, we are nudged to understand, this person will be all those good moral things as well; after all, the heroes of our movies, news stories, and talk shows manage to fit everything into one tidy, handsome package. We frequently and consistently forget, however, that movie heroes aren’t real.
Naturally, as well, we ordinary human beings — the ones who work jobs if we can find the employment, try to raise our families with as little interference from nosy outside sources as possible, and are scolded into voting because it’s the only means we are given to participate in public affairs — understand that we do not fit into the movie hero mold. As ordinary people, we are taught, our job is to do our job — whatever it is — well, and a primary indication that we are good human beings, and model citizens, is that we are Efficient.
Efficiency is the God-word of the corporately-controlled society. No longer is cleanliness next to godliness, but the ability to work hard, at top energy, uncomplainingly, staying late and arriving early, focusing everything we have on whatever business we work for (or community service organization we support in our spare time) so that that business can make a profit. Now if the business happens to be one we own, the goal of making a profit is understandable, but most people these days don’t own their own businesses, nor do many work for a small, family organization — our energy, time, focus, and lives are poured out onto the altars of others, with the understanding that it is not enough that we simply do our job, do it well, and then go home. Our place of work IS our family (it tells us so), and what that place of work demands is that we be as efficient as machines, rather than rational, thoughtful, creative, and vulnerable human beings.
Perhaps it’s time to start using our rationality, ability to think, and creativity to question the messages that assault us, messages that leave us drained, exhausted, feeling inadequate, and pressured into doing more and more for somebody else, while we ourselves, and those few precious people put into our lives for us to love and care for, fall by the wayside.
Human beings are not machines.