Tuesday, 17 November 2015

Humanity

by Michaela Clancy



Spinnaker Tower - in solidarity with the people of Paris
(source: Daily Echo)
In light of recent events, I have been led to ponder about humanity and whether there is any left in our world of seemingly endless terrorism. Trawling social media, I have read comments like ‘ I see humans but no humanity’; although I understand what they are saying, I have also seen many acts of humanity.

To begin with, the definition of humanity is ‘the quality of being humane; benevolence’. Although, the attacks in Paris showed just how far ISIS is willing to go in order to destroy and disrupt lives, stories were also revealed showing examples of great compassion. Taxi drivers turned off their meters so that they could take people home free of charge, people bought clothing for the blood-soaked survivors so that their visual suffering wouldn’t be prolonged, people offered those wandering the streets shelter in their homes.


There will be many more examples that have just been shrouded by the shocking facts of these attacks. I think it is important for these stories to be shown to the world as well as the horrifying facts about the terrorists, because, in this day and age, we cannot just have endless waves of attacks being reported, we need to hear about the selfless acts performed by normal people, as these are what will keep us strong in times of hardship and may reassure us that there is still good in this world.

When events like those in Paris happen, it does make you question "Why?" Yes, we need to be aware, through news and social media, about the atrocities committed by terrorists. However, it is essential that stories of the courageous and compassionate acts of humanity shown by many of those in Paris on Friday night are circulated by a media too often addicted to depressing stories.

Of course, an act of humanity doesn’t have to be reported around the world;  it can be known only to one individual, which can sometimes be even more meaningful as there is no selfish intention for national recognition. One example of this took place months ago, when a man was travelling the New York subway with his children. A train was approaching at high speed when a man at the edge of the platform had a seizure and fell unconscious onto the tracks. Without even thinking, the first man ran on to the tracks and pulled the unconscious man beneath him, whilst the train drove over the top of both of them. Both men survived without any injury. Some people would say that he was stupid to risk his children seeing his death resulting from an action to save another man. However, this was an act of humanity; where there was no gain to be had on his behalf.


I don’t think that the world should be filled with only kindness and happiness, as without the hate and pain we would not recognise the goodness that the other emotions bring to our lives. However,  in times of need (and, from what I have seen, it seems likely there will be more distressing events to come) the world, as a whole, will need stories of humanity to build our spirits in order to resist the people that attempt to terrorise our lives. A terrorist is someone who attempts to demoralise and terrorise us in our everyday lives; we should mourn those whom we have lost, but, if we also proceed with our lives as planned, the terrorists will not have succeeded in their task. Their mission is to destroy the humanity in our actions; however, if we resist by continuing to act humanely, it will be the biggest revenge we could inflict.

Our humanity is the most important and beautiful gift that we have as a species. There are too many examples to write down: from extraordinary actions such as those of the Japanese workers who gave their lives in order to shut down a leaking nuclear plant that threatened their area's well-being to the ordinary everyday example of someone helping you out with a small task without been asked. Humanity is essential to our existence as human beings; we must not concede to the bombardment from terrorists attempting to weaken our moral principles and to dehumanise us.


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