Growing More Human

If I asked you what kind of creature you are, what would you say? You might say: Well, I’m a really loving person – in fact, I like to hug elephants.  If I were to ask you instead, what type of creature you were? You would reply: I am a human. Notice, ‘human’ is a type of creature but ‘loving’ is a kind of person. Therefore in this sense, type is used to differentiate one group from the rest (humans vs. non-humans) and kind is used to link the individual to the group (loving person to persons).

Now what would you say if I asked you what links you, as an individual, to the rest of your group – to humankind? In your endeavour try not to reduce humankind down to its basic components. I’m really asking what makes us more than the sum of our atomic parts? And why do we care?

I, for one, care because I want to transform into something better. Personally, I want to grow and collectively, I want civilization to flourish. As the current Reebok #crossfit campaign states – I want to be more human.

The scientific name for the human species is ‘homo sapiens’. The origin of the word is latin: homo (‘human being’) + sapiens (‘wise, sensible, judicious’). Quite literally homo sapiens means ‘wise man’.  Indeed, as a species, we are very wise and we’re ingenious and adaptable and arguably the most influential species on the planet. But I think it is high time for us to shake off an inheritance of neglect and abuse and to use our influence to nurture the world and our relationships in it.  

I can think of no better place to start this journey than on the continent where humankind first came into existence – where we first learned to be human:  Africa.  Africa – that virgin ground upon which our customs, traditions and collective memories first emerged.

During this Africa Expedition I will experience the abundance of nature’s bounty as well as its devastation. My journey will take me from scenes so lovely they must have “been gazed upon by angels in their flight”, as the great Livingstone observed of Victoria Falls to Kabwe, Zambia where the devastating effects of humanity’s negligence has resulted in one of the most polluted places on earth.

I can think of no better way to reconnect with my centre than in focusing on how to be love in a very practical way to those I share kinship with. Africa and I share a kinship not only in humanity but also in loss. This is a journey that I will share with you by focusing on how to be love in a very practical way to some of the most vulnerable in our world: widows and orphans affected by HIV/Aids. In doing so, I’ve no doubt that they will be light to me, to us, and to all of humanity.

***

“The true test of civilization is, not the census, nor the size of the cities, nor the crops, but the kind of man that the country turns out”–Ralph Waldo Emerson.

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“Shape of a Broken Heart”

(start at 0:45)
Africa has the shape of a broken heart
And the heart of a broken land,

You fell from heaven
Straight to hell,
Now your children are missing

[Verse 1]
I try to understand
Who I am
Years after years
God, it feels the same

Parted favors
Everybody’s gone
Ain’t no war that I know
Anybody won

[Chorus]
Africa has the shape of a broken heart
And the heart of a broken land,

You fell from heaven
Straight to hell,
Now your children are missing

[Verse 2]
Kiss their forehead
And hold their hands
Close their eyes
And put their name on their graves

Dust is dust
And so goes our faith
So goes our faith

[Chorus]
Africa has the shape of a broken heart
And the heart of a broken land,

Fell from heaven
Straight to hell,
Now your children are missing

[Verse 3]
And the wind blows,
And the children roam
Sitting on a side of a road
Watching all the boats, ooh

[Chorus]
Africa has the shape of a broken heart
And the Heart of a broken land,

You fell from heaven
Straight to hell,
And now your children are missing

[Outro]
Now I understand
Who I am, who I am, who I am…

Tell me how,
Tell me how,
Tell me how,
I can accept the thing
Things that I can’t change
Except the things that I can change