Humanity is still a thing

It is time to write something positive.

Today in Nantes, France, some young people rescued a family from a fire, showing great courage and putting their own lives at risk by scaling a building. The young peope who conducted the rescue were all migrants.

Migrant youths in Nantes, France, rescued a baby and parents from a deadly fire. (Image from connexionfrance.com)
Migrant youths in Nantes, France, rescued a baby and parents from a deadly fire.
(Image from connexionfrance.com)

The incident invokes memories of a news story from 2018, also in France, where a migrant in Paris scaled a building to rescue a small boy.

Mamoudou Gassama, a migrant from Mali, scaled four balconies of a building in Paris before pulling a child to safety.
Mamoudou Gassama, a migrant from Mali, scaled four balconies of a building in Paris before pulling a child to safety. (Image from New York Times via You Tube)

These stuning moments of humanity tell us something profound; that we are human before we are a skin colour. We are human before we are a passport holder. We are human before we are a nationality or a status or a race. We, as humans, can and should help each other, in whatever situation befalls us.

Look at the traits exhibited: Generosity, bravery and sacrifice, a desire to help a fellow man at one’s own cost. If such qualities were even fleetingly present at the height of world power, this planet could be amazing.

What if this means something?

It feels important when I see things like this on the news. What if it means something? What if these events are telling us that we can be better than we are? What if these brave souls are vital examples of what we should all strive to be, as people of the world.

Allow me to use the Covid-19 pandemic as a clumsy analogy here. Imagine the pandemic was the wall to be scaled; a tall building on fire, where every country on Earth occupied a different floor of that building, and waved a flag from their window so you could tell which was which.

Now, would you climb that building at all, and if so, would you save only the occupants of your own country’s floor? Or would you be brave enough to go higher and help the ones on the 17th floor, who needed the help most desperately and had no means of escape?

This was a moment for an Earth-wide project of peaceful cooperation, sacrifice and humanity. The intentions were there at the beginning, fleetingly, to make it a multi-national project; but quickly all that evapourated as we reverted to territorial protection, every country for himself, a dog-eat-dog scramble for vaccines by those who wished to claim the prize for their own people, or perhaps for their own resume. Squabbles broke out between countries about who gets to have vaccines supplied first, and of course we saw arguments about who started it in the first place. In short, humans reverted to type.

The lost opportunity

The last year has been a lost opportunity to grow up as a species. For all of its amazing science, medicine and technical achievement, humanity as a whole has retreated into its shell. This moment in human history should’ve been where we all become that fearless migrant scaling a building to save a stranger (in a metaphorical sense). All labels forgotten, all classes gone, just a person helping a person in dire need, no matter what their story is. Our leaders should have been scaling buildings for each other’s countries, not just looking for ways to boost their own interests.

That’s it. And if you stop and think about it, this base instinct – to help a fellow human – shatters systems and concepts (governments, nationalities, citizenships) – which took centuries to build up.

The spectrum of good

The spectrum of good can range from a simple act of handing somebody their dropped wallet, or giving up your seat to a pregnant lady, to risking all in a courageous rescues; in all of these moments we aren’t a person with/without a passport, we aren’t a person from a specific place, or with a specific skin colour, or with a set of political beliefs.

In these moments we are simply each other.

3 thoughts on “Humanity is still a thing

  1. Once again, Owen, you have hit the nail on the head. I hate the words “nationalism” and “tribalism”, for aren’t we all a part of the human species? Don’t we belong to something bigger than a nation, a “tribe” or a community? Yesterday, I helped a man check out at the grocery and put his groceries in his car … I did not ask his religion, his political party, or his ethnicity … he needed help and I had two able arms to use. That’s all that should matter. Thank you for reminding us.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Reblogged this on Filosofa's Word and commented:
    Reading the news every day, it’s easy to believe that simple humanity has been lost in the great web greed, politics, corruption, bigotry and more. But, as blogging buddy Owen reminds us … Humanity Is Still A Thing. Thank you, Owen, for the timely reminder.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. We are all role models. The issue is what roles we want to model. Too many care only about themselves, or those dear to them.
    We all choose who we want to be. Too many don’t realize they have a choice.

    Liked by 1 person

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