The Day After the Second Presidential Debate
Exercise, Even In Small Doses, Offers Tremendous Benefits For Elders By Judith Graham

What It Means to be Human

Isn't that a splendid story? It's barely a minute long yet it is filled with a world of love, understanding, grief, joy, compassion, insight and maybe some magic.

There isn't much of that these days. At least, not in public life. For the past 18 months, one person and his various enablers have been force feeding us a daily menu of hatred, ignorance, malice, lies, vulgarity and general thuggery that has tainted any whisper of human kindness trying to break through.

Yes, I'm bringing Donald Trump into this.

On Monday, the post updating some thoughts about elder loneliness I was trying to write for today was not going well. The words refused to come together, I was distracted and couldn't focus – instead surfing political websites and clicking on cable news to see who was saying what about Sunday's presidential debate.

None of it was uplifting in the tiniest degree. The more I saw, the more I read, the grimmer I felt. Let down. Kind of dirty. Craving a bit of patriotism maybe – words like freedom and liberty and justice that are missing from this horrible, endless election campaign.

I had wasted several hours unable to write about loneliness before trashing the piece and hoping for overnight inspiration.

That didn't happen but early Tuesday I ran across the above video clip that I had set aside some time ago for future use and had forgotten. Let me tell you about it.

It is from a movie released in 2015 titled Human directed by Yann Arthus-Bertrand, now age 70, who is a French photographer, filmmaker and environmentalist.

The film was produced over three years during which Arthus-Bertrand and a team of 20 others traveled to 60 or so countries where they interviewed more than 2,000 people, asking each one the same 40 questions.

All the subjects were shot on a plain, black background without any details about their identity and locale nor, during post production, any musical score. That way, Arthus-Bertrand explained to Wired magazine, he hoped to

”...concentrate on what we all share. If you put the name of a person, or what country they’re from, you don’t feel that as strongly".

Here is Arthus-Bertrand himself explaining his goal in making Human:

Now, a few more of the 2,000 stories.

Although I would hope so, it is hard to know if I am good enough to maybe, possibly, sometimes find the kind of forgiveness the man in that last video has. What I know with all my heart, however, is that Donald Trump cannot.

He is the opposite of love, devotion, kindness, understanding. And what he has done – or we have allowed him to do - with his non-stop bellowing of loathsome and repugnant speech is infect us all with his hateful view of life.

It is bad enough that with at least one-third of voters backing Trump, his abominable beliefs and behavior will not end with a Clinton victory. We are stuck with it for a long time.

Which is exactly why I need a break from it all and something uplifting to feed my soul. It took finding that video of this magnificent movie about all the many ways there are to be human for me to feel a little bit clean again.

You can watch Human yourself in a variety of places and formats. There is the official website or watch many short videos like those above at Google Arts & Culture. Or visit the YouTube page for more clips.

There is also a theatrical version and a TV version, among others (see here). Plus, there is this three volume version you can watch online:

Human – Extended Version Volume 1
Human – Extended Version Volume 2
Human – Extended Version Volume 3

I don't recall that I have ever in my 75 years felt as bad about my country and its future as I do now. This movie, Human - which shows us the family of man in all its glory, and misery too - is a good antidote.


Thank you Ronni for a departure from the daily onslaught of "news" about Trump. In today's issue of the Plain Dealer, Phillp Morris has a most provocative column re how Trump & his behavior has impacted our culture & has lowered the bar so much further. It's worth a read.

I've turned the TV off, occasionally watch PBS evening news, but for the most part I'm with you & your feelings about what is happening in our wonderful country. I just wish we'd hear more from those with our point of view. I'm frightened for all of us. Dee

"One day I sat thinking, almost in despair; a hand fell on my shoulder and a voice said reassuringly: cheer up, things could get worse. So I cheered up and, sure enough, things got worse."
-- James Campbell Hagerty (Republican White House Press Secretary in bygone years)

So, cheer up ya'll - things could be worse! (Oh, DO NOT forget to vote.)

I always felt there was going to be a revolution beginning with the effects of the Reagan era but never could I have imagined the nightmare that is unfolding. I too am frightened and depressed to see what I perceive as a good number of people here in Maine and NH with Trump lawn signs. To know that a mentally unbalanced, obnoxious, egotistical, pig of a human being has been able to achieve representing a U.S. political party in this election is frightening. I'm mesmerized and drawn like a moth to light to see this nightmare unfold. I can't help myself. I can't sleep. I'm literally afraid for the world even more than I am because of wars, global warming, and Aleppo, etc. Who'd a thunk it?

Thank you for finding and sharing this Ronni. I hope several here will share it further and perhaps light at least a few small candles in these increasingly dark days (figuratively and literally).

There was a nasty bit on MSNBC this morning about Alex Jones and the hatred and ignorance that he has been promoting for years and now his bounty on getting people to disrupt events. We cannot give in to the ignorance, superstition and prejudice that he and others are exploiting. This is not the 16th century and we have tools, including this blog, the film and so much more, that can be used to fight it.

I'm at a lose for words to describe how deeply I feel about this post. After watching the first video I teared up with the power of message within. I watched it three times. I love how you counter-balanced the nastiness of Trump's campaign with video clips from such a wonderful project. There is still goodness and humanity in the world and what a perfect time to be reminded of that. It's been disheartening to think so many people in our country are behind a man like Trump. Thank you for writing and sharing this post.

You always deliver, Ronni. Thank you...we needed this.

Thank you, Ronni, for this uplifting post. I don't know if, or when, I would have happened upon "Human" on my own.

Like others commenters here I am frightened about what is to come, even after a Hillary victory. I feel like I am somewhat protected in the bubble that is New York City, where tolerance, perhaps borne of necessity, is the currency for negotiating the day-to-day hassles of getting around. Tolerance becomes a habit, leading to encounters with others different from onself; encounters lead to relationships, and sooner or later one realizes we are all the same under the skin. But I am sorry to say that there are parts of the USA that I am afraid to visit. (And not necessarily all that far away. Goodness knows there are abundant Trump signs dotting lawns in upstate New York.)

Recently my husband and I were pulled over for speeding on the highway in a midwestern state. When the trooper's hat appeared next to our window, I was groping around in the glovebox for insurance and registration and my husband was reaching into his pocket for his license. When the trooper was back at his car running the plate, my husband and I looked at one another and reflected that if we were black we would have sat frozen with our hands raised, not daring to move.

I know that there are good people in every state and around the world. I hope we can all learn to look first for the 'Human' in one another in every encounter we have. Thank you, Ronni, for reminding us of that even in these dark political times.

I've wanted to cry, scream, plead, laugh, and pray about the antics of the Republican Party's presidential candidate. But all my rantings have not eased the pain and frustration I felt. However, your post has reassured me that there is hope and goodness in this world. Thank you for your post.

I echo the comments already shared in my appreciation of your post. I too am like the moth drawn to the flame of nastiness and today's post has helped me refocus my energy on the beauty and commonality of most the human experience. Thank you.

Thank you one thousand times, we need these reminders of the beautiful glass. Thank you.

Regine, I would not insult a pig by comparing it to Trump.....

Ronni, this is magnificent. I want to see the whole thing, again and again - I wept at some, cheered at others, the woman thrilled to be harvesting corn and beans, the woman who seems to love everything from rain to making love and even to growing fat, I felt uplifted and happy and moved and all the ways I have not felt for a goodly amount of time. What I notice about myself is that I use the word "hate" far more than I ever have before - I even find my insides roiling when I witness Trump or any of his supporters [including, amazingly enough, leftists who despise Hillary and would *like* to see her imprisoned and worse] - and for me, these are signs of a disintegration in our society as well as in me.

It is in a strange way comforting that others feel as I do. But I have never in my life wanted more to run away from it all. And from my home!

So thank you, yet again. I look forward to repeatedly listening to and looking at HUMAN. How come I have never heard of it before?

When I was a child, I was taught never to say I "hated" someone or to call someone a "liar." Wow, have times changed. I've mourned the apparent coarsening of our society for a number of years, but this year makes me genuinely fearful for the nation. Trump is only one man but millions have followed his example and feel free to be deliberately rude, hateful, vulgar, etc. I read just yesterday about "the Trump effect" in schools, where vulgarity and bullying are becoming epidemic. I despair. I genuinely fear for my country, more so now than at any time in my 73 years.

"Human" is the perfect antidote for the despicable potty mouth of Donald Trump that is repeated over and over on the news. I needed that, as I am sure many others do too.

Thank you for restoring beauty into our lives this frightful morning of watching our culture disintegrate by the hatred and bigotry unleashed by a candidate for the hightest postition in the world.

I meant to add that the inner beauty of the people in "Human" shows in their faces. The faces in the video are all so beautiful and it's wonderful to see the gratitude they display for simple things.

Thank you Ronni. Balm for the weary at heart. It is indeed a beautiful glass.

OhMyHuman, Ronni ... thank you. What an incredibly moving moment you have gifted us with. Thank you. Thank you so much.

Well . . . I wouldn't have said my mood was all that terrific when I got up this morning, but having read today's TGB and all your comments above, I have to say:

Buck up, guys!! The chances of Trump's winning are very small. He has exposed a lot of attitudes that are, not new, just newly publicized. The same can be said of the terrible stories we read about bigotry still alive and well in our country (and elsewhere), of the misery of oppressed people everywhere, &c. Our heightened awareness of these things is largely due to the rise of 24/7 media coverage. And, in the long run, I think that's a Good Thing. We can't raise our consciousness if we don't even know what's going on in the first place. Confusion and ignorance and evil has always been with us. Knowing more about them gives us more opportunities to work toward remedies.

It *is* a beautiful glass, and we can make it fuller, as well. Here's one of my favorite Gandhi quotes: "When I despair, I remember that all through history the ways of truth and love have always won. There have been tyrants and murderers, and for a time they can seem invincible, but in the end they always fall. Think of it--always."

Now, go out there and vote!

Dear Human Ronni,

We all needed a respite from the thuggery and not stop coverage of the rantings of the "Reality Show" this election season has become.

Thank you one million times for sharing this lovely film!

I just watched a piece Mike Rowe did about insisting that people go to vote. Short version it is our right not our duty. He is so correct in how many people refuse to learn about our history, our constitution etc. that walking into a booth and just pulling a lever (as we used to say) is not what we need. We need people to know what or who we are voting about.

I will return often to read this post, especially when I am at my lowest. People like you are the salt of the earth.

Thank you. You offer hope to contrast with horror. Hope is a wonderous thing.

Thank you so much for showing us this film! It is a beautiful glass, and it is people like you who help make it so.

This was very refreshing, Ronni, and what good timing.

Of course, the last campaigning weeks and when mail-in voting begins, gives us the worst of mud-slinging and panic news put out by the parties/interested groups.

What a long, strange trip this election year has been, and I agree with the others who voice a concern for a continuing dissonance in this country, along with a concern about the media's readiness to embrace every outlandish, unfounded sensational piece of crap for exploitation, to make money. We need journalism to inform us, period.

When my blood pressure returns to normal, I'll revisit "Human," for there's much to mine on a personal level. What would be my answers? What other answers would I prefer? What can I do about that?

I sent this to nearly everyone on my email list. Thank you!

As far as Drumpf goes, he has enabled the absolute worst in human nature (the opposite of "Human", the video) to surface. He has encouraged those who once hid behind sheets and silly pointed hats to cheer front and center at his rallies. He has allowed "men" who denigrate, demean and insult women (harassment, assault and rape being at the far end of that continuum) to think what they're doing is A-O.K.

We all remember Sen. Joseph McCarthy; Drumpf may be his 21st century incarnation, but Drumpf is--against all logic--running for the most powerful and visible office in the land. We don't know whether McCarthy had similar problems with women because--as we're well aware--Drumpf's behavior wasn't all that unusual back in his own personal bubble of the "good old days" when white males ruled. It wouldn't even have been considered reportable news in the '50s.

I have to believe that Drumpf is going to lose this election. Why? Because I cannot envision a world in which a narcissistic, uninformed (and proud of it!), racist, sexist, xenophobic, thin-skinned, small-minded person has the power to blow us all to smithereens and eradicate 50 years of socially progressive programs.

This is far and away the most mean-spirited, hateful campaign I have ever seen, and I cannot wait for it to be over. Up with "Humans"!

Having newly joined Time Goes By and living in the UK I have found the comments on this issue to be useful - and certainly different from the TV and radio coverage that we are getting here. These are certainly strange times for thinking people - and not just in the USA. To be part of the 48% who voted in favour of a positive relationship with Europe and not to be part of 'little England' is a distressing experience and we can only hope that common sense and thoughtfulness will prevail, as in the US presidential elections.

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been posted. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.


Post a comment

Your Information

(Name and email address are required. Email address will not be displayed with the comment.)