Friday, January 18, 2013

human, humus, humble

To be human is to be “of the soil”, literally. In Latin the word for “human” is homo but it is part of a larger group of words among which is the Latin word humus, meaning “soil” or “earth”.  At funerals we often hear the words “ashes to ashes, dust to dust”. We are reminded that it is from dust we are born and it is to dust we all return.

These words reference the account in Genesis of adam’s creation.  We take this as metaphor, but there is a powerful truth we can’t ignore: our bodies indeed join the earth when we die.  Whether living or dying, we are part of this creation.

So what is the problem? If we all end up the same—if we all are the same—why do we have rich and poor, murderers and victims, royals and subjects, presidents and paupers?

It is because we fail to practice humility. You will notice the word “humility” is borne of the same root as humus and human. Our problem  is that we fail to be comfortable in our own skin, to come to grips with our place in this world, that we are of the earth—not above it nor any other living thing. We are not content with being “merely” human so we strive to become something greater, to distinguish ourselves from (and above) others.

But we can only be what we are: human. So, let us also be humble—for one day both kings and kids will return to the very same place, no different—not better, not worse—one and the same.

No comments: