What Does It Mean To Be Human Today? by Dr. Donald DeMarco

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By Dr. Donald DeMarco, Catholic Exchange, March 3, 2021

Dr. Donald DeMarco is Prof. Emeritus at St. Jerome’s University & Adjunct Prof. at Holy Apostles College & Seminary.  ..

It is all too common, when a person makes a mistake, to excuse him by saying, “Well, he is only human”. “Only human” implies a nature that is fundamentally irredeemable. It disregards man’s true nature that is reflected in the “humanities” which celebrates the high-points in human actions and achievements. Philosopher Gabriel Marcel, after hearing a Johann Sebastian Bach concert, tells us that he experienced a revival of a certainty that seems to be lost in the modern world: “the honor of being a human”. To be truly human is to exemplify the best of man’s nature. We need these experiences so that we do not despair and begin to think that a human being is a degenerate animal who is at home in sin.

A journalist for the Toronto Star offers us a clear example of the view that the human being is essentially degenerate. In an article entitled, “It’s the sinning that makes us human,” he maintains that “Sin is us”. “Indeed,” as he contends, “it helps to define us and make us human”. It is true, we may concede, that, from an historical point of view, man has a spotty track record. But that is because he keeps falling short of his real self. Gerard Manley Hopkins fully acknowledges the weaknesses of the human being, but also acknowledges his glory of his essence. He concludes his poem, “That Nature is a Heraclitean Fire,” by completing the paradox: “This Jack, joke, poor potsherd, |patch, matchwood, immortal diamond. Is immortal diamond.” …

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