What does it mean to be human?

There are so many ways to answer. Perhaps it has something to do with the ability humans have to create, to be relational, or to have a longing for significance, even eternity.

I think these answers have their merits and limits, but something I deeply believe is that to be human means to have incredible value -- and beyond that -- to be worth having that value recognized by another.

To acknowledge someone’s humanness is a weighty thing. It means I must act when that person is in need. It means I can no longer settle for simplistic, pat answers about their motivations. And it means I must respect their point of view and open myself up to being influenced by it. As soon as we recognize the humanity of another, we must recognize all that their humanity demands of us.

Extending this, when we recognize our own humanity, we must change the way we relate to ourselves. We often focus on the role we should fulfill or the impact we ought to have on the world around us. But this can lead to a valuing of self only to the extent that we are meeting those purposes. Our humanity means we have a value that goes beyond the function we serve. It’s a reason why listening to a piece of music, experiencing nature, or taking time for rest or joy is worthwhile.

 Image credit:  Trina Spiller Design

Image credit: Trina Spiller Design


Allison (Allie) Ramsey is a Marriage and Family Therapist Intern, IMF #94391, working under the professional supervision of Michelle Harwell, PsyD, MFT 50732. Allie works with individuals on a broad range of issues, including anxiety, depression, relational challenges, faith integration, divorce, and aging.