What makes us human? Is it our opposable thumbs, omnivorous diet, and ability to wield tools? Our individual and collective ideological belief systems and Earth-bound nature? What about our ability to empathize and (simultaneously) our inability to and the resulting creation of “us vs. them” group dynamics? Does our violence, domination over nature, technological innovations, and need for advancement make us human or will these traits one day lead to our demise? Are we more human today than we were at the advent of homo sapiens sapiens 125,000 years ago, or less?
As humans, we are relational beings. Most obviously, we develop and rely on relationships with others (e.g., family, friends, or work associates), creating a sense of community. Less obvious are the relationships we create with ourselves, with activities we do that give us purpose, and with nature. The following poetry collection touches on a variety of impactful relationships between an individual and the self; parents, grandparents, and cherished things; community during a crisis; tribal/clan culture; and God and nature. Who are we if not a compilation of who and what we choose to surround ourselves with?
Leadership uses power and influence to affect societal change. While socialized power is used by elected officials to benefit the majority of the people, personalized power is used for personal gain. In general, power can encourage leaders to act with assertion and confidence to make decisions, but it can also encourage leaders to focus on their own egocentric desires the more they become “intoxicated” with it. Historically, many countries have seen dictators, tyrants, and totalitarian or authoritarian rulers. But what encourages some leaders to fall into this power-hunger behavior pattern while others do not?
Human civilizations have evolved as humans have, culminating in advanced societies of social and cultural organization. Despite humanity’s success on a grand scale, do the current protests, threats to peace, and societal discontent foreshadow the demise of one of the world’s leading hegemonies? Is it human nature to incite violence and encourage chaos, destroying what we’d once created? How can we utilize the relics of last week’s civilization to rebuild?
The following flash fiction/script originated from a nightmare that left the writer in a panic. How does the act of creation serve to transform negative experiences into positive ones? Is art the defining feature of humanity — the primary difference between us and all other animals? Though art has the potential to be dark and disturbing, it often exalts features of our human condition unlike any other act. What can we learn about ourselves through the art we create from confusion and suffering?
All human societies are well acquainted with unnecessary violence — but can we change this? Are the conditions under which humans live such that unnecessary violence is an integral feature of our human nature? At what level (e.g. individual, societal, national) do changes need to take place to rectify our fatal human flaw of pathological violence?
DISCLAIMER: The following artworks feature violence and sexual content.
Does the current government of the United States reflect the founding fathers’ views? As a society, do we value unalienable rights, individual liberty, and self-reliance, or the illusion of morality to control citizens? How can we move away from oligarchic principles and move toward the virtue of Republicanism?