Being human is something each person experiences. Like it or not we are all stuck doing the same thing; living. We may have different upbringings, be from an array of places, and have opposing beliefs, but we all can relate to having our own personal search for purpose.
Purpose is the driving force in day to day life, if you don’t have it things can feel pointless. Trying to find your purpose is inherently human. Other species have the purpose of feeding and protecting their young, bees make honey, sharks help stop the spread of disease throughout marine life. They work as units to keep the world going through things like pollination, but it’s not the same when it comes to the human race.
We don’t all have the same hopes and dreams, so room for individual purpose creeps in. Trying to find purpose in the current pandemic we are all facing is challenging. I have spent the last few months of my senior year of high school online, and I have felt at times that I have lost track of some of myself. I have spent days on end sitting in my room, staying on the internet all day, and not interacting with any outside life. I typically am not like this. I genuinely love school and being with others.
This lockdown has given me an excuse to no longer connect with the world in a meaningful way. It is truly shocking the difference going outside for even just a few minutes makes. Just sitting in my backyard and thinking instead of consuming technology has felt like some of the moments that I’m getting back to my regular self. I feel excited about life when I actively see and participate in it. Being able to join nature is a right that we tend to treat as a non-necessity. If I don’t leave my house for more than 24 hours my body and mind start changing. I tend to be much more pessimistic and generally upset. When I make a push to go for a bike ride or walk I feel like I’m getting back on track to my life. People need nature ground themselves. I feel a good example of this is facilities that are meant to bar people from society to teach them a lesson, for instance, prisons.
Prisons are in our society to serve as a punishment for perpetrators of serious crimes, and in the long run to rehabilitate inmates. Without getting into why our prison system is a broken means to justice, I would like to talk about how inmates are treated. Commonly inmates will be given yard time daily for exercise and such, but something that is often seen in different places is the lack of nature they are exposed to. Sometimes a “yard” is just cement and fencing.
There is nothing inherently human about being locked up, and in some cases, it can strip people of their humanity. If we only treat people like caged animals we are not rehabilitating them, we are depriving them of necessities. People have always needed connection to live. If you are stuck looking at a wall, or a screen, you lose pieces of what makes you yourself. It is easy to forget about your life if you are consistently avoidant of it. For those of us fortunate enough to choose our future, we can do what we wish with our lives. For some, it does not pan out the same, and they aren’t given the privilege to get to make free choices.
We all have ambitions in some way, however small they are. Living in the U.S. I have many opportunities to try and accomplish my goals: I have been given the chance to go to college and to follow my passion, I have friends who are getting to choose what their futures will look like without judgment. I grew up in a very small rural town, and somehow I have gotten to make most of my big life choices with almost everyone in my life supporting me. I will never know any other childhood then that, and I acknowledge the privilege that has been given to me. We are not meant to take passive roles in our own lives, and currently, it can seem like we are.
Choosing who you are is the one thing that is our own, and being able to see what others are doing can inspire us to become better versions of ourselves. Seeing life happening around you, and choosing to make your own life something you are proud of is human. Becoming an active part of your life and the lives around you are what it means to be human.