H is for Humanity

HI’m currently editing my novel about robots and tweaking my next book that’s all about cyborgs. Fact is, though, these books aren’t about robots or cyborgs at all. They’re about humans, about that ineffable thing that makes us human beings. At the core of my books is the desire to understand humanity and what it means to be human. 
This showed up in my Facebook feed today: 60 Photos that Capture the Human Experience. Looking through those, it hit me that a lot of what I was seeing in those photos are themes I touch on in my books. My android, Quinn, in I Heart Robot even says that humans are confounding, a paradox and ever swirling shades of gray. Some of these photos do perfectly capture the paradox of humanity – our propensity for violence as well as for tenderness, our ability to hate and hurt, but also to love and forgive. This is why I strongly believe that no matter what creatures might populate genre fiction from vampires to androids, aliens to werewolves, what we’re really exploring is the idea of human-ness through varying perspectives.

One of my favourite songs at the moment is by the South African band Civil Twilight. Their song, aptly titled ‘Human,’ has a particularly poignant and relevant chorus:

It’s only love, it’s only pain
It’s only fear that runs through my veins
It’s all the things you can’t explain
That make us human

Before starting an editing session, I like to take a moment and listen to this song, getting into the psyche of my android who simultaneously resents and reveres humans, wishing he had that same unnameable quality that would elevate him beyond being a mere machine.

‘Humanity’ as a concept is sometimes hard to grasp especially when perusing world news and the often gruesome imagery of war and destruction such as recent events in Syria and the Ukraine. These images of a violent, conflict-torn society significantly tarnish my ideal of humanity as an evolved species. But for every devastating image, there are stories like these that help restore my faith in humanity and keep me to motivated to explore these themes in my writing.

What do you think makes us human?

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  • Carol Cameleon

    Well, for me being ‘human’ means the ability to think freely. No matter what people make us do or tell us to do, we always have freedom of thought…
    #AtoZChallenge. http://virtuallyallsorts.wordpress.com

  • I’m not sure what makes us human; our propensity to violence maybe? It’s a question I love to ponder while reading YA.

    Hi, this is Pam and I’m a challenge co host. I want to help make your challenge experience better. I wish you all the best as you blog through the challenge.

    Feel free to let me know how I can help you further!

    Pam, An Unconventional Librarian


    Co-host, Blogging from A to Z April Challenge


    • Yikes – I hope not only that! But yes, a very good question to ponder.

      Thank you for stopping by – everything’s going well so far!

  • You had me at ineffable – a word I learned during last years #atozchalenge. I love the song and your meditation on it… I also enjoyed your explanation of how to use unreal characters to explore human emotions

    • ps the track is great background music for the images

      • Absolutely right! Going to look through them again with Human playing! 🙂

    • Hah! It’s one of my favourite words 😉

      Thank you so much!

  • Amber

    Hi, I’m Amber, part of co host Pam’s Unconventional Alliance. Dropping in from the Blogging from A to Z challenge.
    Enjoy the rest of the month and Good luck!


  • chrisk0

    I think it’s impossible to define humanity except by exploring the contrasts, especially looking at things that would be close to us but not quite. There aren’t that many things ‘close to human’ in our everyday life, so we have to use imagination to make them up.

    Drop by and visit at http://kelworthfiles.wordpress.com/