I find it hard to believe that we, as humans, are so narrow-minded. Most of the time, we focus on so many little details that we lose sight of the bigger picture. Many people travel to different parts of the world in the pursuit of natural beauty. Others spend their time trying to find the purpose of life, seeking comfort in the idea that there is something larger than us. And although I am not saying these are not noble quests to undertake, people fail to recognize that the most impressive thing our world has to offer is, actually, humanity itself.
Imagine a world in which you are the only human being. Where is the pleasure in visiting the seven modern wonders of the world — assuming you are actually able to do this alone — if you will never have someone to share the experience with? Similarly, what would be the use of knowing the ultimate truth of all philosophical debates, if you could not discuss them with another person? I am strongly convinced that most of you would prefer to live in today’s uncertain world than in the hypothetical one presented above.
But why? Well, we do not really have to know the purpose of life to figure this one out. Sure, Croatia’s beaches are awesome, but the one in Florida is better when you have someone to kiss in the hot sand while watching the sunset. In the same manner, it is a better experience to just look for truth along with others, than to know it, alone. I believe this is the case because, intuitively, we value human company more than having unrestricted freedom or knowing the answer to everything. Just ask Tom Hanks in Cast Away, who had to pretend a volleyball was another person in order to feel that he was not alone.
A human being is, in itself, exceptional. He has the particular abilities to reason and express emotions in a complex manner. However, these functions are useless when there is no one to reason or express feelings to. Together, humanity has achieved amazing things in the sciences and the arts throughout time. Think about it. Our biological species was able to defy the very natural laws that govern us by sending several humans to the moon. So our brain has a limited capacity to process information? No problem, that is why we created computers to do the job for us. As we discussed above, connection with other humans is more like the end, instead of a means, of our very own existence. With the Internet, we have been able to decrease our degrees of separation from six to zero. Humanity is now more connected than ever before.
Although people tend to give more attention to science, I personally find art more amazing. It is mind-blowing to think how humans convey immaterial ideas or emotions through material means — such as a book or a painting. The main reason we value other people is because we can share with them, and they can understand, what is occurring within us. This can be beautifully achieved through art. The ideas of the likes of Aristotle, Confucius and Cervantes have rebelled against the constrains of time. As a result, people from different places and time periods have been able to communicate and share the same ideas and emotions. Time-traveling may be science fiction, but in the arts, it is a reality.
In sum, the beauty of life is in the people that surround us. Therefore, when we take humanity for granted, life ceases to be beautiful. Hate, discrimination and other negative situations arise when we focus on trivial interests, and forget what actually matters the most. Look to the big picture, and do not entertain yourself with complexities because, in this case, the simplest explanation is the best one. In the end, we all belong to the same community. As John F. Kennedy once said, “our most basic common link is that we all inhabit this small planet. We all breathe the same air. We all cherish our children’s future. And we are all mortal.”
People tend to say that you never know what you have until you lose it. I am just telling you what you have. So please, there is no necessity to lose it.
Abdiel Ortiz-Carrasquillo is a junior in the College of Arts and Sciences. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. I Respectfully Dissent appears alternate Fridays this semester.