[Editor’s note: today’s timely meditation by Landon Saunders invites us to reflect on our humanity in light of Micah 6:8.]
I woke up this morning thinking about the question that has guided my life and work most: What does it mean to be a human being?
It’s Tuesday morning, January 12, 2021. It’s early. The temperature outside reads 18 degrees. I sense stillness. I’m letting the ravens sleep in a bit; I’ll rouse them in a little while and throw out some egg yolks—I eat the egg whites!
I’ve spent a few moments aligning myself for the day—what kind of human being I want to be, what kind of words I want to say, what kind of feelings I want to nurture.
I’ve checked in with several newspapers across the country. I, first of all, look for stories about human beings—their loves, struggles, failures, successes, stories of what children are going through, stories of the inevitable injustices suffered. This helps connect me to what matters most to me—the deep humanity I share with every human being in this country and around the world.
I won’t recount here the events of this past week except to note how perilous it feels, how difficult conversation is, how challenging it is to be—what word should I choose here—I’ll choose the word discerning, yes, I think that is the right word. The word suggests thoughtfulness, showing good judgment, using care in complicated times and situations. To that end I am examining my own heart.
I ask, what does it mean to be a discerning human being in a nation of three hundred thirty million and a world of over seven billion?
The ancient prophet, Micah, who also lived at a time of great peril and upheaval, asked something similar. He wondered about what was required of a human being. His answer was majestic in its brevity and profundity: a human being should do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly.
These words, repeated thousands and thousands of times in social, religious, and political speeches, still provide guidance for us now. Who should we be? In all my thoughts and feelings, in the words that I say, in the actions I take—let them all reflect the chosen desire of my heart to do justice, to be kind, to walk humbly in this perilous moment in our complex world.
Indeed, what does it mean to be a human being?