There are people in this world that make it easy for us to to turn the word “human” into something pejorative. These are the people that would have you believe that selfish pursuits are our pinnacle, that greed and lust for power are virtues. These are people that don’t see humanity for what it has the potential to be, they only see what it has the potential to do for them. We can easily separate ourselves from that through denial or ignorance, but we feed off the by-products of that selfishness, and we, through our actions, or inaction, perpetuate the pejorative. In my opinion that makes us culpable in the end. By not actively destroying the barriers to human progress, we become the same conglomerate impediment.
There are those that believe that humans are what make humanity great, and there are those that know that our greatness is a culmination of forces with beginnings at the birth of infinity and terminus at only the perceived horizon. We are part of something larger than our neighborhoods, our cities, our states, our countries, our religions, our governments, our heroes, our villains, our chosen paths, our wasted opportunities. Our daily life is inundated with distractions to turn our perspective inward to the pulsating rhythm of the machine we have built of our own self-interest. All of us are guilty of allowing ourselves to feed off the product of what destructive pursuits our species has wrought from the surface of this planet we are connected to.
And that’s fine. It’s going to be alright. You are human after all, right?
For every thousand corrupt humans spouting poison and sowing hatred, turning us inward to the darkness within our species, there are a handful of good humans that would turn our hearts, minds, and souls to the light of the rest of the universe around us.
We did not get where we are relying on the greed of humanity to eat its way through the world around it to new frontiers. It was not by the grace of kings, or emperors, or presidents, or prime ministers that we can touch the stars and see our place in the the universe around us. It has always been the collective species, all of humanity, standing on the shoulders of the rare giants who could see just a little further than the rest of us. By seeing the infinite from their perspective–a perspective they genuinely wish to share for the good of all humanity–we have come to embody the word “human” that is not pejorative in context.
Stephen Hawking IS one of those giants. And though his physical presence has passed on to gather once again with the stardust that makes up all that we know, we can still stand on his shoulders and see the horizon that our concrete jungle tends to block our view of. This human defied what boundaries our society would place on humans with disabilities of the body, and in many ways defied the disease itself that slowly paralyzed him. Hawking showed us that what makes us great is not our wealth, our things, our bodies, but our minds, all unique, and ALL an integral part of humanity’s future as a whole. Hawking helped me see what it means to be human by helping me see the universe as a whole, and what an insignificant mote of dust our sun is. And we… we are so much less. But we are human.
I am human, period. I’m not an American, a Texan, a McKinneyite, a Westerner. Not even an Earthling, or a Solarian. These are the places I’ve lived, not the entity that I am. You are human, period.
I’m not sad today. I don’t find it either necessary or productive to mourn the passing of something that has not truly departed. Instead, I’m both hopeful and afraid. Hopeful because there will always be giants, and afraid because we do have the tendency to cripple them before they reach the heights they are capable of. There will never be another Stephen Hawking, but there will be giants.