WE TREAT other people based on our understanding of what and who a person is. I was discussing this with my students as an introductory topic to morality in Grade 10 Edukasyon sa Pagpapakatao (EsP) subject. If one focuses on understanding of man on the perspective of biology (science), the learning is only limited to the physical composition of the person while if we consider other paradigms such as philosophy, theology, and psychology, we will come to understand that a person is also an psychological, rational, and social being.
Having a clearer picture of the complexity of a person makes someone appreciate individual differences. Individual differences explain the differences in behavior. Some of us might still have the idea that a man (male) should not cry because it connotes weakness. This, if we must know, is a traditional view brought up by the culture of masochism, elevating masculine power. People adhering to this view may have a limited understanding of the emotional or psychological aspect of a person. All person are capable of feeling hurt or down and one of the most effective ways of expressing this pain is through crying. Modern behavior advocates show appreciation on men who express their emotions in this way.
The understanding that person is a rational being comes from the learning that we have intellect and will. Both philosophy and theology as subjects agree on this thought. We are rational beings as philosophers suggest. We have the ability to understand, to analyze, to criticize, and form conclusions based on things happening around us. We have free will that gives us the idea of freedom; freedom to do what makes us happy and what we think is right although theology is clear that that a human who possesses genuine freedom should know that freedom means acting in accordance to the standard afforded to human beings. Theology affirms that man is a social being based on the account of Adam needing the company of a woman to make him feel complete. While the story of creation affirms that humans are created in the image and likeness of God, the story of the fall supports that a person is capable of sinning because of his/her weaknesses. After the sin of Adam, God was remembered telling him to work in order to survive and this again asserts the importance of work to humankind. Still in the creation story, God entrusted the stewardship of environment to humankind and that gives us the responsibility to take care of nature.
One concept of being a human that I was trying to instill to my students is the idea that a person is someone who has a mission in life. He cannot remain stagnant. One be called a person by mere birth but he he/she has responsibilities to fulfill to attain the status of human as a creation of God. A person has responsibilities to himself, to his/her neighbors, and to God because we believe also with the concept that our lives are not ours thus we need to take care of it as a sign of gratitude to the giver. You may be convince that my influence are more on the religion or theology side but I assure you that I share the beliefs of the majority of Filipinos.
Understanding human is the first step towards practicing morality because this knowledge makes them appreciates dignity of each person. If people, my students, realize that people can get hurt, they might be watchful with their words and actions. If people internalize the dignity of others, it is expected that they become more respectful towards others.