On Being Human eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 21 pages of information about On Being Human.

III

Take life in the large view, and we are most reasonable when we seek that which is most wholesome and tonic for our natures as a whole; and we know, when we put aside pedantry, that the great middle object in life—­the object that lies between religion on one hand, and food and clothing on the other, establishing our average levels of achievement—­the excellent golden mean, is, not to be learned, but to be human beings in all the wide and genial meaning of the term.  Does the age hinder?  Do its many interests distract us when we would plan our discipline, determine our duty, clarify our ideals?  It is the more necessary that we should ask ourselves what it is that is demanded of us, if we would fit our qualities to meet the new tests.  Let us remind ourselves that to be human is, for one thing, to speak and act with a certain note of gentleness, a quality mixed of spontaneity and intelligence.  This is necessary for wholesome life in any age, but particularly amidst confused affairs and shifting standards.  Genuineness is not mere simplicity, for that may lack vitality, and genuineness does not.  We expect what we call genuine to have pith and strength of fiber.  Genuineness is a quality which we sometimes mean to include when we speak of individuality.  Individuality is lost the moment you submit to passing modes or fashions, the creations of an artificial society; and so is genuineness.  No man is genuine who is forever trying to pattern his life after the lives of other people—­ unless, indeed, he be a genuine dolt.  But individuality is by no means the same as genuineness; for individuality may be associated with the most extreme and even ridiculous eccentricity, while genuineness we conceive to be always wholesome, balanced, and touched with dignity.  It is a quality that goes with good sense and self-respect.  It is a sort of robust moral sanity, mixed of elements both moral and intellectual.  It is found in natures too strong to be mere trimmers and conformers, too well poised and thoughtful to fling off into intemperate protest and revolt.  Laughter is genuine which has in it neither the shrill, hysterical note of mere excitement nor the hard, metallic twang of the cynic’s sneer—­ which rings in the honest voice of gracious good humor, which is innocent and unsatirical.  Speech is genuine which is without silliness, affectation, or pretense.  That character is genuine which seems built by nature rather than by convention, which is stuff of independence and of good courage.  Nothing spurious, bastard, begotten out of true wedlock of the mind; nothing adulterated and seeming to be what it is not; nothing unreal, can ever get place among the nobility of things genuine, natural, of pure stock and unmistakable lineage.  It is a prerogative of every truly human being to come out from the low estate of those who are merely gregarious and of the herd, and show his innate powers cultivated and yet unspoiled—­sound, unmixed, free from imitation; showing that individualization without extravagance which is genuineness.

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On Being Human from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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