Couple days ago my peer tutoring grade 9 English class had to discuss and contemplate some pretty serious life lessons as they are now reading “Tuesdays with Morrie” who,of course, had a great deal many aphorisms as he advanced further in his disease. One activity included all the students to briefly summarize what they think being ‘Fully Human’ means and whether or not it is essential in relationships and why. Although my teacher and I came upon this subject with all seriousness it was just impossible not to have been at least slightly humored by how some students expressed their interpretation of being ‘Fully Human’.

I found it pretty interesting that majority commented on the idealistic humane forms/virtues and almost quite naturally affiliated it with the term ‘Fully Human’. Personally my most primitive thought had been all the nasty and humiliating things that man has done, but I guess that’s just the serenity of being a grade 9 student? I have to give a few students credits for having nicely worded their thoughts – basically the gist of central power; equilibrium between greed and peace and developing what they referred to as ‘good relationships’ –  and deserved applause, however it confused me that many said you do not need to be fully human for ‘bad’ relationships. So the lesson is to just trash ‘bad’ relationships? Never make them good? Or else you’re constantly ‘fully human’ that you’ll only develop ‘good’ relationships? But in their case, it was an impossible form of humane epitome. There was this one note that very blatantly stated something along the lines that:

” To be fully human, you have to be alive. You have friends and family, or else you’ll be really lonely. And not a lot of people don’t have friends or family. Yes you need to be fully human to have a relationship, because otherwise you’ll just care about yourself and that’s not very fun.”

In retrospect, there is a broader message that is belittled by the delivery and I really apologize to whomever wrote that cause my teacher and I were just in such a silly giggle fest, so let’s emphasize the saying where we laugh with you. Nonetheless, many a times I find it very intriguing some standard or status quo perhaps that just happens to reside with my grade 9 class. In one incident they debated about a fictitious story about whether or not it should be the family’s, doctor’s or patient’s(subject) choice to be in a group home. Their arguments were fundamentally the statement that ‘family is just family, and they have to take care of you.’ In all respects that’s great that you have such a strong sense of morals and love towards your family members, though I had to take a second to give sympathy to the parents in the story. Students responded that they would most likely not move out of home when they become adults personally, instead most insinuated basically mooching off your parents until you’ve really sapped the family funds with your school tuition and can finally be independent. For the autistic boy in the story they commented that family love is much more nourishing than strangers whom you are not familiar with and probably would not have the same tolerance as people who are closely related to you. But no matter where the argument lead, it always ended up with the simple statement that family just has to take care of you. I felt like I was missing out on the way of life by people two years my junior.

I could say I have a pretty pragmatic state of mind, in addition I knew a single mother with two sons, one of whom has down syndrome. I was friends with the elder son and at that time they had sent the younger brother to a foster home. In psychological or sentimental ways this might seem pretty brutal for some audiences out there, but for myself I found that the relationship between mother and son – both sons – had improved perhaps. Financial it had also taken a toll on the mother, but moreover, just to put myself into perspective, I would imagine myself to be a whole lot more appreciative and tolerant of my down syndrome son to visit every so often instead of having to be mentally challenged everyday for my patience over top of a million other things that just happens to go through a single house wife’s head. Not to mention, realistically, the other child has probably taken a couple of sucker punch’s to their egos to have a problematic younger sibling, who would naturally, if not more so in this case, dominate the attention.

To put this in relevance to Morrie, even more provoking judgments were being carried out for Mitch Albom, the author of the book. For those of you who have read it, it is very philosophical and candid so there’s no concealer on the author’s or Morrie’s immediate thoughts. During one chapter, Mitch describes an incentive to stay in the car whilst his old professor waited for him in his wheelchair on his front lawn. His sense of delay was urged by the guilt that he no longer remained the same animate youth who dreamed of being a musician and promised to stay in touch when they had parted, which I felt was a concept that the students did not grasp at all. Perhaps it’s just my own bias thought because those were almost the exact feelings I had when all I wanted to do was escape from the hospital and my father’s death bed and just leave. It did not mean that I cared any less or the fact that I had been preoccupied with anything else important – which at that time was probably an episode of Inuyasha , but hey what’s an 11 year old to do with her cousins. Any who, I was quite astonished by the number of students that came to agreement in Mitch’s selfishness.

In a simple , logistic way of perceiving the situation, of course the ‘right’ course of action would have been to drop whoever and whatever else and run across that lawn to greet the dying man, but if you had to really engross yourself in that thought for a moment, to suddenly reminisce upon someone that you had ricocheting occasionally as background flashbacks in your mind and to differ all the changes you’ve made in your life in comparison to before – most of which were probably not what the fundamental lessons  sociology taught and anything you’d be proud of. Surely, Mitch and I are not alone in this almost fear, dread, guilt, whatever else that I cannot decipher with my vocabulary to face, what? Yourself? Unworthy and selfish that you cannot atone for for becoming who you are instead of all the other things that had more than face value. Which in Mitch’s case should have been beyond the fame, career and income. But then again these judgments are always referring to the ‘right’ or ‘good’ thing to do or think. Which seems to be a popular way for my grade 9 class to describe things. I really don’t know what ‘right’ or ‘good’ is honestly, so I’m wondering how they had installed such determined separation between what should be is and the always bullshit line of being human.

So another question I have is, in Morrie’s words : What is it about silence that makes people uneasy?