A film with the title “Man Up” is currently on the screens. It’s a traditional expression to encourage like-a-man behaviour, like-a-traditional-man behaviour: get yourself together and be tough. ‘Human up’ is a much richer expression.
This film made me think that an alternative encouraging and cheering up expression which points to the direction of working for an inclusive and equalitarian society would be: ‘Human up’.
This expression becomes necessary at a time in which we need to challenge the direction to which conservative intentions seem to be going in the UK.
A philosophy of ‘all equal’ is behind the conservative policies foreseen by the government.
Those policies are directed to increase market oriented freedom, to reduce the support for vulnerable people, to harden the way in which immigration is dealt with and to increase policing control over people, among others.
Human rights are at risk.
Underlying the government approach, an equalitarian society is based on considering equality as a given.
An undifferentiated ‘all equal’ assumes people are equal without reference to experience.
For this reason, behind the government approach to equality there is a denial of history (histories, herstories, otherhood’s histories).
As human beings we experience life in particular ways, informed by the traditions, realities and purposes of the social groups of which we are a part.
There is then a diversity of histories and realities. An ‘all equal’ defined an a priori denies those multiple histories and realities in which lives are lived.
This a-historical ‘all’ fails to acknowledge diversity.
Equality and fairness are, by contrast, work in progress.
They need to be built with the active acknowledgment of differences, and entail establishing dialogues and working together.
Being a human is becoming a human. We are work in progress, and it takes time and effort.
Becoming a human being consist of both transforming our ways of doing and growing in consciousness. For this reason, consciousness involves not only reasoning but feeling, approaching dialogue with empathetic understanding, and reflecting, finding analogies, and challenging ourselves and others.
Consciousness involves doing things differently.
The logic of being tough implied in ‘man up’ is the logic of closing the heart, and thus, avoiding a deeper communication, and sustaining insensitive hard-hitting approaches to ‘others’.
For this reason, being tougher is not helpful to build a life in common.
By contrast, we need to be strong, firm and active to create contemporary societies that are inclusive and equalitarian.
Being strong is the ideal that the invitation to ‘human up’ transpires, which is quite different from being tough.
Strength opens a space to acknowledge our vulnerability (many of us might become more vulnerable with age; all of us will eventually die) and our sensitivity.
As part of this sensitivity, ‘human up’ allows us to acknowledge that the place in which we are is not necessarily the result of our choices.
Being strong implies to take seriously our ideas, feelings and actions, and being, at the same time, critical of them.
“After all”, Eduardo Galeano would beautifully say, “we are what we do to change what we are”. Let’s human up!