We need to ask ourselves if the choices and the decisions we make every day are truly good, positive, ethical, and virtuous choices.
If you were asked what makes you human, different from the rest of God’s creatures, what would you say? Can you answer right away or are you now trying to list what makes us a unique and truly human person, different from the animals?
If you don’t have the answer right away, you may be short on a very human ability which can enhance and enrich your wellbeing and happiness – that is self awareness and consciousness. This is one of the great attributes of being human, to be so mentally alert and conscious, that you are alive, exist and that you are a person of great value.
It seems to be elementary to state that fact, but great unhappiness arises in people’s lives because they are unaware of themselves, their potential and their goodness. They may even think that they are a bad person. They are confused, unaware and semi-conscious of their values and attributes, and don’t value their own lives and existence. But, how wrong they are. Growing in the self-awareness of our goodness and that we exist must be our priority in life, and helping others to be the same, is essential for a fuller, happier life.
We also have another great gift, the great ability to ask why we exist. That is one of the greatest attributes of being human, that we humans have the ability to reason and think. Not only can we be conscious of ourselves, we can also think about our existence and be aware of our place in the universe.
Sometimes people do not realise the joy of being alive until they are almost dead. Near-death experiences through sickness or accident and disaster can awaken awareness of self and of life. Only when it is nearly taken from us do we truly cherish it and desperately do all in our power to cling on to it. When we survive, we see the world and ourselves in a very different light with greater, sharper self-awareness.
Another great gift of the human person is free will-the ability to make free choices. Unless we are enslaved by other human beings or some form of addiction that has captured our free will, then we can choose what way to live and act. Even when captured by negative forces, we can choose to break free and escape from a negative existence to a happier, free, more meaningful life. Then with free will, we can respond to different realities and challenges before us.
Free choice alone does not make us a true, good, ethical human person, because many humans make negative choices that are harmful to others, to the planet and are far from being good, right and just.
This is one way to try and understand and explain the evil that can exist in the world. Some human beings exercise free will in a negative, destructive way. Others are not aware of themselves, or of others and much of the world around them. They don’t think, or are unconscious about their behaviour and choices, and are apathetic and indifferent to their own lives, but many choose to be fully human and choose the good and virtuous life.
Apart of being fully human, we need to use our ability to know and reason and think about ethical values – to choose the good, we have to know it. That’s where the value of learning and education in right and wrong are so important. Our conscience is an innate value that can tell us what is right and wrong, just and unjust, true and false. Being human has another great unique ability, which is to care for and have compassion and empathy with others who may be total strangers to us.
We learn this from the Gospel story of the Good Samaritan – love of the stranger in need is the greatest love of all. It is that human ability, a spiritual ability, to have compassion and to help others without pay, reward or seeking love in return or benefits for oneself.
The one important value that we need to embrace above all is to know ourselves and affirm that we are basically good and capable of greater good, compassion, love and a happier life. This is our mission.
– Father Sean