Human Being

“Americans are often not thought of as human beings. They are more often referred to as human doings”, says my theology professor here in South Africa.  I would agree that the American culture demands its citizens to do a lot.  That is what makes the United States so great. Everyone has the opportunity to be all they can be and do all they can do.  Many work hard through school and/or they work their way up the ladder to success in the working world. However, this is what is also hurting Americans.

I would argue that it is easier to be a human doing than a human being.  So far I have a lot more time on my hands here to think and reflect than I do back at Marquette University because there my schedule is booked everyday.  Here, I have to think about things on a deeper level.  I have to reevaluate my values and beliefs and in some cases discover what I believe for the first time.  Mother Teresa believed that there was more loneliness and sadness in the States that any other place in the world.  She witnessed more happiness in the impoverished townships of South Arica than in the wealthiest parts of America. This leads to the obvious conclusion that possessions do not lead to happiness. This we all understand. But this continues to be a struggle.

As I walked around the Waterfront in Cape Town I saw an Aston Martin, James Bond’s latest car of choice.  It was truly beautiful.  It is extremely rare to see a car like that.  I looked at it and said to myself, “That is my goal.” Then I think, “Can I actually spend that much money on a car and feel truly satisfied as I drive it around by myself. No, but if I could just borrow it for a weekend I would be fine with that.”

Then I am walking through the stores and I see an amazing diamond necklace. I mean this thing is just immaculate.  “Okay new goal,” I think to myself. “I need to be able to buy this for my wife.” Well, that is problematic too. Nothing is wrong with the intentions, but there is this innate feeling that it is ethically wrong.

Schools need books and pencils. Children need mothers and fathers. Human beings need their basic human rights and I need that Aston Martin. I should just skip the Aston Martin and go buy my ticket to Hell. In the meantime, I will struggle to become less of a human doing and more of a human being for others.


~ by Austin on January 31, 2010.

2 Responses to “Human Being”

  1. My Mother always tried to get me to stop “doing” and just be. This has become a goal of mine in this time of change and struggle in my life. Thanks for the words of support.
    You can definately become happier by being for other as opposed to doing for others. I learn this everyday at work. I also agree that you don’t need “things” to be happy. Just good friends, love, laughter and a good hockey team.. ( and Jack). Love u

  2. I liked the reflection Austin. Hoping that South Africa continues to be a fulfilling experience for you.

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