How to be Human

By Madeleine Somerville

It’s incredible the amount of hate that people can carry in their hearts for those unknown to them. It’s enough to make you cry–for the hypocrisy, for the cruelty, for the apathy, for ignoring a message simply because it has been said too many times.

If the message was truly heard and taken to heart and listened to and researched and acted on, it wouldn’t need to be shouted, screamed, whispered into our consciousness every day. It wouldn’t need to make us uncomfortable while we channel surf at midnight, inspiring twinges of guilt in between shots of seductive bodies begging you to “pick up the phone.”

But it does.

I find it hard to believe that I’m the only one feeling vaguely guilty for all the indulgence.

I just don’t know how to phrase it in a way you haven’t heard before, because they’ve tried it all: statistics, pictures, first-person accounts, news stories, documentaries, protests, letter writing campaigns, celebrity spokespeople. They’ve tried it all, so I’ll just use words.

There are people dying out there.

There are women being raped, brutally and cruelly, in front of their families, their friends, those they thought would stand up and protect them. There are men being killed when they try.

A girl, an eight year old child, stripped naked and forced to perform oral sex on adult soldiers, because she happened to be on the losing side of a war she had no say in.

A pregnant 16 year old raped by armed men, her stomach ripped open by their angry hands, her bloody child torn from her womb and thrown away like garbage.

Teenaged boys being executed because they had the audacity to toast freedom.

Ten year olds with machine guns.

Entire countries being swallowed by famine and disease.

We’re ignoring it.

We’re ignoring it and we’re pretending it isn’t there, and we’re lying to ourselves when we say that we can’t do anything. We’re closing our eyes and shaking our heads and clucking our tongues and wringing our hands and saying “Won’t somebody do something!” but we don’t see ourselves as that somebody and we never do.

I can’t understand it and I refuse to accept it. These people aren’t just words or ideas or pictures or names, they mean something to someone, they were babies once. These are the stories of people’s lives. They are no less important than yours.

This isn’t about winning, it’s about being human. And your $20 a month won’t save the world. It just won’t. But you can buy one less pair of Seven jeans this year and be a better human for it. Or give up the Starbucks and feel a little less awake, but a little more alive when you are.

We are consuming ourselves. We’re losing ourselves in our things and turning our backs on the world. It is not acceptable, it is not ethical and on a fundamental level, it is not human.

You’ve spent your life buying things to prove that you are somebody. Do something.

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