What’s wrong with humans?

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, July 23, 2014

What is wrong with humans? Seriously, what is wrong with humans?

It’s been 45 years since Apollo 11 landed and we heard, “One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.” What giant leap did we take? Did we leap into harmony, dive into understanding, jump into peacefulness?

When man stepped onto the moon, the world held its collective breath. As we saw pictures astronauts took of the blue and green ball we call home, it looked serene and beautiful.

Of course, it wasn’t serene. We were in the midst of the Vietnam War and still reeling from the assassinations of the Kennedys, Martin Luther King and Malcolm X. The fight for equal rights was ongoing and as the song said, the times they were a changing.

Now, 45 years later, the world reels from the downing of plane over the Ukraine and the deaths of everyone onboard. Closer to home, a governor talks about deploying troops at his state’s border to stem the flow of immigrants trying to get into our country.

Battles rage in the courts over who can marry whom, over providing healthcare, increasing the minimum wage, gun control and on and on it goes. Some people living in a country blessed with abundance are homeless, hungry and often lonely. For the most part, we pass by the pain, watch it on the news and go on with our lives.

So again, I ask, what is wrong with humans?

How do we get so removed from each other that intolerance, misunderstanding and violence are the ways we interact? Why did we forget the connection we felt as we looked back at our earth, the home we share, from the vantage point of the moon?

It seems to me, it’s because we don’t see each other as more alike than different. Instead, we lump people into groups. Life becomes an ocean of the “theys” that threaten our happiness, our way of life, our safety and security.

They are immigrants who want to take advantage of the benefits our country offers. They are terrorists who want to kill us. They have a different lifestyle, a different skin color, a different religion or no religion, belong to the other political party.

They are the poor. They are the rich. They are anything different from our idea of how people should think, act and live.

If those who shot down a plane filled with “theys” saw the faces of the infant passengers sleeping in their parents’ arms, would the faces of their own children come to mind? Would the action be different, if the people firing the rocket realized individual lives would end with their action, that the passengers were not “they” but were someone’s mother, father, child, friend.

Might a governor, might all of us who worry about immigrants, look for better ways to respond, if we sat for a while with these humans we label “illegal.” If we heard their stories and looked into their eyes, would we see beyond the label and perhaps experience compassion instead of fear.

So, I guess what’s wrong with humans is that we don’t know each other as “us,” as branches on the same tree of life.

Perhaps, Apollo 11astronaut Michael Collins said best what I’m trying to express.

“I really believe that if the political leaders of the world could see their planet from a distance of 100,000 miles their outlook could be fundamentally changed. That all-important border would be invisible, that noisy argument silenced. The tiny globe would continue to turn, serenely ignoring its subdivisions, presenting a unified facade that would cry out for unified understanding, for homogeneous treatment. The earth must become as it appears: blue and white, not capitalist or Communist; blue and white, not rich or poor; blue and white, not envious or envied.”

Perhaps, not only political leaders need to see the planet from that distance, but all of us. If that happened, maybe finally we’d see what’s right with humans.