WHAT DEFINES TRUE HUMANITY?

Before exploring this topic, I want to start by stating the mission of Genuine Womanhood Initiative (GWI) and its connection to the topic. GWI is a social reform group using Etiquette, Education and Character building to restore values, promote civility and peaceful coexistence. We are weaving a sustainable fabric of ‘TRUE HUMANITY’ that will think right, choose right and act right.

What therefore defines true humanity?

Humanity as we know is the human race. The word humanity is also used to define the qualities that make us human. What are the qualities that bring out the humanity in us? Why would GWI want to appeal to the humanity in us?

Humanity means humanness – the way one human acts towards another. When we speak of the humanity in us, we speak of benevolence, kindness and compassion. COVID-19 brought out the humanity in many of us. The medical team went all out to save lives. Philanthropists and Humanitarians provided food and money to families as palliatives. This great show of humanity brought home the need to feel the plight of others and lend a helping hand.

But must we only wait for desperate times such as COVID-19 to bring out the humanity in us?

When we experience humane actions from people or organizations, we feel a greater sense of connection and worth. For example when an organization recognizes the need for mothers to still nurse their babies even after returning to work from maternity leave and choose to set up a crèche in the organization for this purpose, this will be a great show of humanity. Such an action by the organization will encourage commitment from the women working there.

During the recent END SARS Protest in Nigeria, October 2020, we witnessed a young physically challenged lady join the protest in Abuja. It was later discovered that her inability to walk on two legs made her unemployable since 2013. The Nigerian youths raised money for a prosthetic leg for this lady and went beyond this to raise extra funds to enable her set up a business of her choice. In less than 3hours, over N2million was raised for this lady. When the team to grant her the prosthetic leg came, they offered the prosthetic leg, which would costs N500,000.00; FREE. It was further reported that a sum of N4.1million was eventually raised to give this young lady a new life.

When Genuine Womanhood Initiative (GWI) says that she is weaving a sustainable fabric of true humanity, this means that GWI is paving the way and shining the light on the humanness in us to arise, and bring lasting value. The picture that comes to mind is the weaving of Akwate or Kente cloth. This takes time and great effort to produce but the finished product is always colourful, durable and of high quality that stands out wherever you go. In like manner, allowing the humanity in us to blossom will take time and conscious effort but once we’re able to achieve this, it will bring us great value and cause us to stand out.

It is the humanity in us that causes us to share knowledge and experiences that will help shape people’s lives positively. This aspect of humanness always reminds me of a pipe that receives water from a source and transmits this to the users. When this pipe is blocked at the exit point, preventing the users from receiving water, the force of the water passing through this pipe without an outlet, will eventually burst the pipe. GWI receives freely from the source of all life and has been mandated to pass this message to fellow human beings that they may think right, choose right and act right. This is why GWI creates awareness, educates and mentors.

We are all choice makers. The choice to improve ourselves or not, rests with us. For every choice we make there are corresponding consequences.

True humanity models genuine empathy in our relationships with one another. This means, the ability to understand and share the feelings of others. For example, if a parent brings a sick child to the hospital and feels panicked by the child’s experiences and even the medication being given, an empathic nurse will show understanding and try to calm the parent down reassuring him or her that the child would be fine. But a nurse who lacks empathy will take offence, possibly speak to the parent in an unwholesome manner and refuse to attend to the family even for the simplest things as giving direction or guidance on a matter.

Being empathic also requires active listening skills – being able to truly listen and perceive the feelings behind the words spoken. For example your secretary, who is always at your beck and call, has gone on a number of errands for you including buying your meal from your favourite restaurant. As he or she walks into your office to deliver this meal, you tell him or her that you have another errand to be attended to. Your secretary sighs in exasperation and you disregard this communication and proceed to send him or her off to get your laundry, which would mean another twenty minutes walk to the laundry mart. An empathic boss will pick up on that sigh of exasperation and tell the secretary to go and have lunch and report back in an hour’s time. Being conscious of the feelings of others will help us make better choices with regards to our dealings with them.

Gratitude is another powerful way we show our humanity. Each time we recognize that what we have and the height we have attained are not only down to hard work but also the grace of God; we will begin to appreciate life better. When you visit a hospital and witness the sufferings of patients, you will become more appreciative of the good health extended to you. In a working environment, when a manager appreciates his or her employees and acknowledges their effort; they will become more committed because they feel valued.

Showing respect to one another is an expression of humanity. Respect for someone shows love, kindness, consideration and humility. Humility is the acknowledgement that you do not have it all or know it all. It’s often said, you cannot live with someone you do not respect. Respect is the key to a happy and peaceful relationship. An effective leader will treat his or her employees with kindness and be able to admit when he or she is wrong.

I listened to Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s speech to the Harvard graduating students of 2018. She shared a story of how she praised an author for his books, which she had in fact, not read. His wife asked her, ‘which of his books did you like in particular?’ Chimamanda froze and said the one where he talked about discovering himself, and shot off with embarrassment. She went further to say that that experience taught her that reading an author’s book and acknowledging it is the greatest honour you can give to him or her. Chimamanda was able to share this story because she recognized that as human beings, we are bound to air but the humanity in us is what allows us make room for the frailties of our fellow human beings. It is often said, ‘To air is human and to forgive, Divine.’

David Balter, CEO and Founder of the marketing company, BzzAgent, posted the following quotes in his web project, “100 Days of Humility” –

‘Nothing derails a leader, a business initiative, a relationship or even a noble cause faster than ego.’

‘Every person is a lesson and I am a lesson to every person.’

When we allow our humanity to arise, many of the ugly experiences we encounter today shall cease. On 20 October 2020, the army shot several youths at Lekki tollgate where they were carrying out a peaceful protest against police brutality in Nigeria. These youths had earlier been advised to carry the Nigerian flag and sing the National Anthem and no harm would come to them but this was not the case. The Nigerian army gunned them down as they held the flag and sang the National Anthem. It was a black Tuesday for many Nigerians, old and young, Christians and Muslims. We were all pained by this lack of humanity. A humane person will not violently attack a defenseless person. This day, 20 October 2020 shall never be forgotten. Those youths, in the pursuit of a new Nigeria of equity and justice, paid with their lives.

True humanity will respect the dignity of life. True humanity will not trample on the vulnerable, helpless and defenseless. True humanity will not allow a person misuse the position given to him or her to maltreat, intimidate and oppress others. True humanity is fueled by love; love for one another and love for the cause. When love is at the centre of all we do then justice shall follow because love and justice are inseparable.

Love is the greatest gift from the Almighty Father. Genuine love comes with genuine respect for one another, which brings humility. When we begin to practice humbleness, we shall have peace at home, in the cities and in the nation as a whole.

Today, more than ever, I stand in service committed to the rising of TRUE HUMANITY, Amen!

Written by:

JANE NDUKWE

Founder, Genuine Womanhood Initiative

22 October 2020