Every generation has bemoaned that we are on the course to self-destruction and I suppose that it is inevitable that one day we will achieve annihilation.
However, until we do, what makes us human is our ability to hope, to strive for something better. We do horrible, despicable things to each other and the planet but still we struggle onward. Even in the midst of our destructive impulses we manage to create works of art that make one breathless, and music that momentarily transports one to a place of infinite pleasure. We create ugliness but we also create beauty. Perhaps that is what makes us human, the dark and the light.
Tolstoy wrote, "Happy familes are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way."[ Anna Karenina] I can't help but think that there would be no great art if we were all happy and harmonious; certainly, there would be far less great literature for it's our foibles and failings that fill the billions of pages written over the generations.
My fellow humans fascinate, repulse, and enchant me. I find myself aghast at the horrors that we are capable of perpetrating upon one another. The recent masacre by a mentally unstable young man leaves me choking on a mix of sadness and anger. It appears that his illness was apparent and had been noted by others but no one engaged in any concrete intervention so he was left to listen to the voices in his head and eventually act upon their advice.
However, I also find myself astounded at our creativity. A poem that makes me affirm, "That's exactly how I feel!" Or a singer heard on the radio who makes me pause whatever I may be doing and engage fully in the performance. A Puccini aria sung by Kiri te Kanawa can literally stop me in my tracks and sweep me off to some land that I've never been except in my dreams. Or it can be something as simple as my two-year-old great nephew scribbling with fat crayons thicker than his fingers on a sheet of paper and then proudly sharing his work with me so that I may look and marvel. My reward is the sweetest smile that I've ever seen and my heart aches with love and I'm content.
This being human is a complex state. Our flaws are many but I would not choose to be anything more or less than simply human.
Dame Kiri te Kanawa singing "O Mio Babbino Caro."