Q&A: What makes us human?


We have bodies we call our own

They are just matter, like sand and stone.

Life arises from proteins

And theset make up our own genes.

Our young are fed with mother’s milk,

This puts us in the mammals’ ilk.

“But what makes us human?” is what we ask.

Answering this is a difficult task.

Now let me try to list a few

Items that mostly only we can do:

We feel happy and also sad,

Now and then, we do get mad.

With our memories we can cast

A net that captures events past.

With the mind’s eye we sometimes picture

The world to come in the distant future.

We can take a topic and argue

With friends and foes, and strangers too.

We can talk on what is wrong or right

Words and books we read and write.

We believe this fleeting world is real,

We can think of things non-material.

We communicate through many a sound.

And affect the world that is around.

But often we also pollute

The nature that we should salute

Though technology isn’t meant

To change our environment.

With primes and patterns we like to play,

To unseen gods we like to pray.

We enjoy physics and calculus:

This may not be true for all of us.

We call some places holy, sacred

We thank the Lord for our daily bread.

We kill in the name of Almighty God

And do not feel that this is odd.

We love animals and eat their meat

Tasty food we cook and eat.

We drink wine or water with every meal.

Yet unsatisfied we sometimes feel.

We wake up early and yet are late,

We believe in free-will and in fate.

We solve problems with effort or ease

We cure many a bad disease.

We enjoy music and a beautiful sight

With deadly weapons we also fight.

With joyful hearts we can truly love,

And study the stars in the sky above.

Our minds can be chained or free,

We agree with others or disagree.

We can believe blindly and also doubt,

We can be silent, and also shout.

We think human minds truly can

Figure out how the world began.

This world we try to best explain

In words and symbols not always plain.

We tend to believe that we really do

Have all the answers right and true.

Ideals great, we enunciate,

For which we fight and even s hate.

We inflict pain and give some pleasure,

Things in the world, we can measure.

We track the march of ticking time,

We reason things, compose to rhyme.

We philosophize Truth to find,

We can be harsh, but also kind.

We climb mountains far and high,

We run to the store, things to buy.

Math and art we create,

Joyous days we celebrate

We laugh aloud, we also cry,

When we fail, again we try.

We can be ascetic, or lost in lust,

Do things we mustn’t and things we must.

We preach love for all, and the poor ignore,

All this we do, and a lot, lot more.

But what’s truly common to us

Can be stated without a fuss

In all our cells which are our homes

We’ve twenty three pairs of chromosomes.

So back to the question at the start

What makes us humans in head and heart?

Science has simply this to say:

It’s all just our DNA.


Published by:

Varadaraja V. Raman

Physicist, philosopher, explorer of ideas, bridge-builder, devotee of Modern Science and Enlightenment, respecter of whatever is good and noble in religious traditions as well as in secular humanism,versifier and humorist, public speaker, dreamer of inter-cultural,international,inter-religious peace.

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