HUMAN BEING VS HUMAN DOING

We live in a culture which exalts doing.  Often the first question anyone asks a newly introduced stranger is "What do you do?"  The answer then sets off an immediate set of connotations about who that person is, their education, their income, their influence etc.  We may immediately become 'impressed' with the stranger, or likewise immediately judge them to be less 'worthy' of our attention–all based on what they do.

This topic came to mind after my wife introduced herself to a woman at a social gathering.  She was a  'friend of a friend'  and it seemed appropriate for my wife to speak with this woman about their common acquaintance.  This woman, a virtual stranger, immediately began expounding upon her own career, what she was doing, how successful she was with hardly any mention of the woman my wife and she had in common.  I was an outright display of 'bragging' and rather inappropriate.
I so happens that the woman they know in common is tremendously 'accomplished' in her personal life and career, yet rarely does she talk about herself in any similar manner.

 I suppose this has much to do with the competitive nature of our culture.  We are each seeking to define ourselves on some level, above or below someone else.  Yet the basis of this comparison which some determine to be of ultimate importance, is based on flawed principles.

What we do does define us in some way.  But it does not tell anyone about who we truly are.  Our 'being' is much more subtle that our 'doing'.  The qualities of kindness, compassion, caring, loving, giving–those spiritual elements that most would agree are of ultimate metaphysical value, often have nothing to do with what we do.

Certainly they can go hand in hand.  But very successful business people, politicians, physicians, entrepreneurs, entertainment celebrities etc. can be simply 'awful' human beings. Likewise, those who have much less 'impressive' jobs or perhaps none at all, may be fantastic human beings.

The two may coincide.  When that occurs, it is certainly desirable.  Yet it is important to realize the difference.  Human being and human doing are not the same thing.

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