Humanity… Where Do We Go From Here?

Though I wrote a sort of closing statement in my last blog post, there are still things lingering in my brain. It’s so bittersweet that this is my last post. I really enjoyed writing these, as it allowed me to use my voice. Most of my English courses require large amounts of extremely formal writing,  understandably so, but I crave every opportunity where my writing can be more personal… More me. 

Before I get into the actual content here, I’d like to say it was a pleasure working with you all this semester. Through every day, every conversation, every blog post, I’ve learned and grew an immense amount from and with you, both academically and otherwise. Thank you, Dr. McCoy for creating such an innovative, diligent, and thoroughly exciting class environment. It has genuinely been the greatest honor being one of your students!

A topic that has spanned every single work we’ve read this semester is humanity. Harriet Washington shared with us the very dark, but equally very real, side of American history that many of us were unaware of. Washington’s raw and chilling truth of medical experimentation was difficult to swallow. The truth often is. Among other things, Medical Apartheid reveals what human beings are capable of and what we act on. It forces us to take a long, hard look at ourselves. I use these verbs in the present tense, because Washington’s book spans from colonial times until the very present day. These things still happen.

Zone One, Clay’s Ark, Fortune’s Bones, Zulus, and Home are all important in noting as well. Though a majority of these works were fictitious, at the heart of each one, was a focus on humanity. Protagonist Alice Achitophel, of Zulus, by Percival Everett, is deemed a social outcast by her society because of something so superficial as her appearance and weight. When the government finds out she is pregnant, Alice is completely stripped of her human rights. She has been stripped of her dignity. In Clay’s Ark, author Octavia Butler sheds light on what humanity actually means and what we would do to save it. When the disease gets a hold of the Eli and Meda’s farm, are they still considered humans? Should Eli and Meda have been treated as anything less than human? When Blake Maslin turns his back on them, half scared-half angry, did he turn his back on humanity? In Zone One, Colson Whitehead develops a humanity divided into two distinct groups: the uninfected, and the infected. The uninfected spend their time rebuilding civilization after a zombie outbreak. But rebuilding civilization means eradicating the infected. Zombies have lost their humanity and there is no use keeping them around.

Though many of these books are largely fictitious, the theme of humanity consistently transcends the novels in which it presents itself in. Sure, we don’t necessarily have a zombie outbreak or an organism changing the inner biology of humans, but we’ve got plenty of issues of our own that raise the issue of humans and human rights. Seriously. It’s like every single day, there’s something tragic in the news. I often hear my friends say, “I’ve officially given up on humanity,” or “This is so sad, but honestly I’m not surprised that another shooting happened… Again.” In my head, I scream, “NO! Don’t give up just yet!! Hold on! We need more good humans. The minute we normalize these things is the very minute we stop trying/stop caring. Don’t let this happen.” The news can feel so dark sometimes, but for every bit of evil in the world, I’d like to think there’s triple the amount of good. Although it’s hard to see sometimes. For every step we take backwards, we take two steps forward.  But like the novels we read from, it all depends on humanity. It depends on good, compassionate human beings learning from each other, helping each other, and building each other up. And that requires every single one us to participate. If we lack humanity, we could crash and burn like the civilization in Clay’s Ark.

When things get really awful, are we going to close our story on the Alice Achitophel’s, Eli’s and Meda’s of our world? Will we abandon them?

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