Practice Note 4 – Who is meant by humanity?
When we began looking at the practice of humanity inquiry for the first time one of the great surprises was how rare were the people and places where this was practiced. It was as if we were living in a garden, eating its fruits, and not noticing the flowers. In caring for many things, in many spaces, within many discourses there was something about our membership of humanity that had seemed too vast for us to collectively consider.
Moving forward a decade the distance into this question became more proximate. Our connection with humanity became more intimate. What we came to recognise was the rareness of this form of inquiry, was only because it was unfamiliar, not because it was foreign to us. To make this topic more familiar to you, there is now a Practice Note on the idea of ‘humanity’ in apithology.
You can download it now: Practice Note 4: Who do we mean by humanity?
Ideas that seem too far away become closer with good guidance. As any teacher of an initially difficult sport, a musical form, the practice of lineage, the engagement in prayer, or the learning of landscapes knows, each step within, is a step towards. The practice of humanity-inquiry occurs similarly.
There is a paragraph in a 2009 Journal article on Apithology theory, which talks about the fourth attraction to Apithology practice, and reads:
“Apithology holds as its field of inquiry humanity as a whole. Its position of inquiry is one that potentially takes in the entirety of humanity and all human meaning made. This is the meaning that enables all life and forms of living in human systems. While its principles can (and must) be applied in practice at the individual level the context of inquiry is always at the humanity level.” (Aspects Vol 2. No. 1, p.3)
It might seem strange that what we do can have a context wider than we can imagine. In apithology it seems strange that we would not learn to imagine the contexts, wider than our doing. For where is the location of our caring, if limited to our own understanding. Generative spaces enact in places greater than our imaginings will ever take us.
Perhaps I once felt that it was unreasonable to ask people to engage in humanity caring if they had not practiced this. People care for personal concepts, in ways that make sense to them, personally. We now know it is entirely reasonable, to provide the steps into this broader practice. What is enabled changes the scope and quality of our professional inquiry and the efficacy of our enduring legacy. Understanding humanity, is worth doing immediately.
How then to begin with just a few asking? We can learn much by looking to an example of a similar step-change, now 70 years past in our history. When speaking on the process for the drafting of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948), the Chair of the Commission, Eleanor Roosevelt, reflected on why a charter on human rights and freedoms was necessary, saying:
“They felt it was going to be difficult, because the many parts of the world that had not even the elementary understanding of what human rights really meant, but they felt a beginning must be made and it must be as widely disseminated through all the countries who were member nations …” (Interview: 1958)
The UN Commission determined from the outset to include representatives appointed by nations from all geographic and political regions. The Commission’s members included Australia, Belgium, Byelorussia, Chile, China, Egypt, France, India, Iran, Lebanon, Panama, Philippines, Ukraine, USSR, United Kingdom, United States, Uruguay and Yugoslavia. Significantly, the Commission considered not only political and economic rights, but personal, educational, social and cultural rights not previously expressed. (Source).
If we think about the context for this remarkable task, in the winter of January 1947 the Cold War was newly forming, the world was coming to terms with the advent of nuclear weapons, trials and trauma from wartime internments, continent-wide refugeeism, the search for lost children, and shortages of essential supplies, all occurring within the debates of a globally militarised and newly divided world. To look to our in-common humanity in dark times, heralded with determination new light. That moment in time signalled a new optimism, for a world turning towards a different orientation.
In the ‘slow creation‘ of the idea of humanity, the elementary right of human-equality took form through a discourse of independent nations at very different stages of capacity. So too might the 21st century idea of humanity-caring be gradually and competently informed by the actions of humanity inquiry.
May we also be this courageous, radically loving, and openly determined in our continuing.
© willvarey (2016)
Additional Resource: Illustrated Universal Declaration of Human Rights (link)