To Be Fully Human

The ability to reason and understand is important to our well-being. But so is our ability to feel emotions. Let’s look at how the two fit together.

Intelligence is a wonderful thing. Our ability to reason, to make rational choices, and to look at things analytically has given humanity many great things. But when the mind is operating without the heart, when intellect rules without benefit of humility, we often end up in very deep trouble. In the 20th century alone, we saw the most cultured nation in Europe launch the “final solution,” and the most creative scientists among us have managed to spoil the land, the air and the waters.

Have you ever wondered why so many people seem to be afraid of their feelings? They are determined to avoid appearing openly emotional and often behave scornfully to others who are in the grip of strong feelings. They want to feel in control at all times, but one of the things about being fully human is acknowledging that there is only so far reason can go. There are some things in life that are deeply mysterious. They defy logical explanation and require that we accept rather than understand.

Discovery of the evidence of a Higgs boson, that particle that physicists have proposed gives mass to everything in the universe, was a huge labor by a lot of scientists, several of whom work at the University of Washington. In an article at the time, one of the scientists admitted to tears at the announcement, because it was such a momentous scientific discovery. But it was a scientific discovery that was just as much felt – and felt deeply.

So, don’t let your quest to understand life prevent you from truly experiencing it, and don’t let your desire for knowledge keep you from achieving real wisdom. To be fully human, we need both.