By Emmy Rihet
“What is neohumanism? Neohumanism is humanism of the past, humanism of the present, and humanism – newly explained – of the future. Explaining humanity and humanism in a new light will widen the path of human progress and will make it easier to tread. Neohumanism will give new inspiration and provide a new interpretation for the very idea of human existence.” – Prabhat Ranjan Sarkar
What makes us human ?
Is there a clear, good and definite answer to this?
The above quotation from Prabhat Ranjan Sarkar is really inspiring me and could be a starting-point to move towards a universal definition of what it means to be human, although I believe it to be subjective. It is about expressing what we really are, and this involves the inner sight, not the outer sight (i.e gender, race etc.).
Recently, two hashtags popped-up on the Internet: #HUMAN, #WhatMakesUsHUMAN. I found it as an opportunity for in-depth reflection. Each human being is unique, and for me, this uniqueness could be an answer among many others. Actually, one may find an answer discussing with others… At least, this is precisely what Yann Arthus-Bertrand is seeking to achieve; create conditions for meaningful dialogue through his last feature Human, a journey in the heart of Humanity, full of emotions – personal, yet so universal, as illustrated by YAB’s statement « …this movie has no comment about this at all. It’s only people talking. You decide what you want to do with it »… That is why I meant subjective.
3 years , 2500 hours of rushes, 2020 interviews, 65 countries, 63 different languages…
These are the numbers of Human, the new film by French filmmaker, photographer and environmentalist Yann Arthus-Bertrand (also director of Planet Ocean and Home – both very successful films), which premiered September 12th at the United Nations General Assembly Hall in NYC, with Secretary General Ban Ki-moon in attendance, as well as at the Venice Film Festival.
The movie interspersed sumptuous aerial footages with personal stories of rare sincerity filmed on a black backdrop (almost in close up) to make us dive into a wide panorama of the world, and the hopes and pains of human beings globally. In essence, this is what Human is all about : Life.
By only watching an excerpt, I found myself deeply immersed in this movie that speaks emotionally about human life. It is difficult not to feel concerned, or even feel personally targeted as the main subject of this movie is YOU.
Human is purely humanizing ! We will not be touched by the same people, the same stories… it is subjective and that is what is the most beautiful in this movie. Each of us can feel something strong, learn, discover. Even the one who never asked himself, What does it mean to be human ? can find food for thought here. This movie puts emphasis on the duality of the world, enabling us to discover humanity with all its force and fragility, seeing through the eyes of another.
“and sometimes you bring beautiful things, beautiful words about your experience. And, I think we grow up with experience of the other one. We don’t grow up alone.“ – Yann Arthus-Bertrand
This quote all sums up the goal of the movie, or at least, the goal I perceived in it: create a unity and give a metaphorical answer of « what makes us human » and « why do we live together ».
Finally, the most correct interpretation might be : “Once upon a time, people were born into communities and had to find their individuality. Today, people are born individuals and have to find their communities” (K-HOLE)
This colossal nonprofit project of 3h11 is displayed online in six different languages for a worldwide resonance, and it will be at the disposal of institutions, non-governmental organisations, charities, museums and local communities around the world wanting to join the initiative and spread the Human voice. It is time for a dialogue around human-ness, it is time for openness.
Here is an extended version available for free :
Whilst writing this piece, I started to wonder about the origin of humanism.
The appropriation of the term « humanism » is unknown. There is, nevertheless, evidence that both the re-interpretation of Latin letters (as the cornerstone of human culture) and Italy coined the term « Humanists ».
Humanism not only became quite popular during the Renaissance, but also powered it in some way due to its large influence on culture and society. Humanists knowledge of the past enabled them to introduce new ways of learning, and to affect the way people thought about their own era. The dignity and value of the individual was also emphasized. Humanism arose as a new consciousness, altering previous ways of thinking as an alternative historically based perspective.
The Medici’s played a significant role in this movement as they lit the humanist flame and spread it across Europe through their patronage and love of culture; culture in the broadest sense of the term.