What Makes Us Human
Updated: Sep 25
By: Liaba Aamir
Last Updated on: November 28, 2021
Image by: Fatima N.
When asked what makes us human and different from other species, most say, “We can think. We can differentiate between right and wrong. The purpose of our life goes beyond survival and procreation.” I completely agree with that. Years of evolution created the Homo sapien, “the wise man.” There is no doubt about the fact that our advanced intellect distinguishes us from other organisms. But there is more to humanity than just having morals, desires, and logic. We possess certain traits and qualities that make us complex and feeling organisms. Although not all uniquely human, these traits are an intrinsic part of what it means to be human. I will outline some of the many characteristics that humans have had for centuries and centuries, fundamental qualities and simple observations alike.
We create. Not just tools and weapons, but art and literature. We create pictures on the walls of caves, to express things we think are beautiful and powerful. We create buildings with beautiful, intricate patterns because it brings us joy to look at magnificent things. We have the innate desire to create, and artistry is simply a characteristic that humans possess. We look at oceans and create pictures of them. We write about what we feel, what we want, how we see the world. We tell marvelous stories with just words. We create melodious songs and poems that speak to ourselves and others, that represent who we are. We put all of this beauty into the world just because. It’s such a simple, human thing to want beautiful things and to create beautiful things. Everyone does it- whether it’s making an elaborate meal or inventing a device that can look into space. From the simple to the notable, humans create.
Communication makes us human. And not just the basic conveying of information, but a wide and complex way of talking to others. There are thousands of languages in the world, each unique but with the same purpose to express. We yell and whisper, using different tones and timbres to emphasize ourselves. We have different words for the same things, words that are vague and words that are exact. We gesticulate- which is a huge part of communication. Not only do our gestures accompany our language, but they are also their own language. The fact is, language is an incredible part of what it means to be human. It allows us to express ourselves in an incredibly eloquent manner. Although people speak different languages, it is something that everyone has. Our languages are infinite, and we use words in a way that no other species can. Speaking is an omnipresent part of human nature. It is a part of us, our blood, to communicate.
We give compliments. We tell people they did well at something, we tell them we think they’re interesting, beautiful, valiant. Compliments- now that’s a human characteristic. We feel the need to let people know how much we liked something about them, and it’s ingrained in our culture and upbringing to give compliments. For example, children praise others- and they learned it from their parents, who make sure to compliment every little thing their child does. This is because compliments build self-esteem. They are so important to receive, in fact, that children who do, have better confidence and motivation. Our brain responds extremely positively to praise and admiration. A simple compliment, just makes one feel...good. Moreover, it’s a cycle- someone admires you, you admire them right back. We turn it into giving and taking, but the purpose is not to take. It is to give. It is to be kind for the sake of being kind. I think that’s an incredible way to use our words.
We socialize. I learned in Sociology that humans are social creatures, which didn’t come as a surprise seeing as how we live in societies. We have created tribes, clans, cities. We are always around people, and we need to belong to groups of people that we are similar to. Community is not uniquely human, but it is a huge part of humanity. Wherever we go, we either take our group with us or find new people to be around- because we need people. It is proven that humans are happier when surrounded by people, and lonely people are generally unhappier. This means it is important that we have people to talk to, to care about. Most humans like being around people, in fact, a lot of our life is spent revolving around others. That’s human.
I think that humans are distinctive, interesting beings of many dimensions. There are a lot of things that are not completely understood about humans. There are many, many questions that even our intellect could not answer, about ourselves and the world. But sometimes, it’s nice to notice all that the human race has accomplished, and the many traits we possess that lead to those accomplishments. We are thinkers, all of us. We are artists, we are speakers, we are kind. We are human.
P/N (Photographer's Notes):
"The Little Things"
This is one of my favourite candid shots that I’ve taken, mainly because I was able to capture my parents showcasing casual affection, which is something I don’t see very often. For some context, we were out at a local park, which has a beautiful lake area with a bridge going over, seen in the composition. My parents were taking a stroll, while I took pictures and I managed to capture one of them, arm in arm on the bridge. This was a lovely moment, as most of my parents’ love languages are acts of service, so seeing this intimate moment made me feel warm and in awe of how strong the bond between them really is. The title “The Little Things,” refers to the little things in life that occur within your relationships such as this, that brighten your day and keep you happy through life. In terms of technicalities, I did make use of some basic photography principles such as the rule of thirds, which is a technique used to create visually interesting photos. This is done by placing the subject within the intersections of a grid divided into thirds horizontally and vertically. I typically have the grid line option on in my camera so it helps with this technique. Leading lines is another technique used to bring attention to a certain point of the shot, in this case by the sides of the bridge leaning towards the subjects, which are my parents. A little thing I like to do to most of my photos as well, is add a vignette, which provides a really subtle frame. Candid shots are truly the best for capturing the unguarded and intimate moments of life, which I feel are truly the moments that matter the most.