Monday, February 4, 2013

The Three Marks of Humanity

                I have told people before that I believe the secret of “Being a Man” comes not only from the phrase, “Do the Right Thing,” but also from what is called the four Cardinal Virtues. They are Prudence, Justice, Fortitude, and Temperance. Some might recognize these as basically what Marcus Aurelius tells his son in the film Gladiator (I believe there is one that is said differently). In elaborating on that subject, I’m going to examine what I see as the Three Marks of Humanity. These are the things I see people use to judge how “human” someone is.  Sure, you technically cannot be more or less human than you are, but the idea is still out there.
                The first Mark is Wisdom. The definition I am going to use is, “recognizing the order of the universe.” This encompasses the virtues of Prudence and Justice. Prudence is basically the knowledge of foresight (or “foreseeing the actions or circumstances that will follow” which is another way of saying “seeing order”) and Justice is the practice of restoring order as seen through Wisdom. King Solomon was and probably still seen as a great king. The legend is that he obtained great Wisdom. His famous example is the dispute of who was a baby’s mother. In this story, he implemented Prudence by predicting the action of the real mother and Justice by restoring the child to her.
                There is one more thing that I attribute to Wisdom, and that is Creativity. While I do not necessarily hold it should be used as a mark for Humanity, it falls under part of it. Creativity takes from the order seen and plays with it. It can take a medium and create a whole “universe.” Stories are perhaps the best example of this. Stories don’t need to be what happened, but takes from the known world and plays around with it.
                Following Wisdom is Courage. This takes a little from Justice but mostly from Fortitude and Temperance. The little from Justice that I am referring to is the will to act on it. Fortitude takes the will and helps it overcome physical obstructions. Temperance, on the other hand, refers to overcoming its own desires that are obstacles. This Mark can be seen in anyone, great or small, that perseveres in danger. It is an arrow to our pride as humans if we are called, “a coward,” which can lead to some stupid results, but the idea is still there. We try to do courageous things to prove our “humanity.”  
                Last of all is Compassion. This is the odd one out as it does not necessarily have a relation with the Cardinal Virtues. Instead it takes from what are known as Theological Virtues. I find that concept interesting and wonder why, but that is a subject to explore another time.
                Compassion (or Love) is a quality that people tend to look for. The reason why I use Compassion instead of Love is because I feel like love’s connotation is becoming corrupted. People are becoming more and more confused about what love is, but compassion is mostly untouched.
Compassion indicates a love of care for fellow man (or other things). From here, you get things such as sympathy, empathy, or mercy. These connections with fellow men and women are emphasized more when it comes to jobs. We admire those bosses that voluntarily sink to the bottom to experience how difficult things can be. We wish more that our political rulers would do likewise.
 If need another example of why I hold in esteem Compassion, I believe you won’t need to look further than Mother Teresa. She could be regarded as one of the most humane people in the world during her time for her care of the poor. This love for humans she did not know is worthy of praise. It shows that love does not indicate receiving anything, but helping others for their own good.
                Now if anyone is into video games, you might recognize that these three names are almost the same as the Triforce from the Legend of Zelda series. The difference here is Power and Compassion. It might seem a little odd to use something that might appear to be a weakness as opposed to power, but I have my reasons. Besides what I mentioned above, I don’t see Power to do anything with humanity as a whole. It’s more used by people to gauge one’s “manliness” and even that has its flaws. Sure, mental or political power doesn’t fall under that problem, but it still indicates corruption, not humanity. Compassion, though, extends across both genders and does indicate humanity as can be heard in the cry, “Don’t you have any heart?”

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