a being v. a doing

26 September 2008

In a recent Windows/PC commercial, Deepak Chopra states “I am a human being. Not a human doing, not a human thinking — a human being.” There’s been some minor discussions about it on blogs, and even youtube. (Sorry, no links, you can consult with The Google if you’re interested. Or ask nicely.)

Commentators have called it cliche, that it ruined the ad, it was “retarded”… granted, others thought it was brilliant and the best line in the whole ad. I think if you really look at it, Chopra brings up something interesting.

The phrase “human being” has been around for a while, so when we hear it or read it, we tend to keep the phrase together. But in Chopra’s context it’s not a human being, it’s a human being. (Which I’m just going to assumed you’ve already gathered if you’ve seen the ad.)

So, that leads us to this: what are you? (And completely forget about any Mac v. PC issues.) A human doing? A human thinking? Or a human being? Despite Chopra’s opinions, is one truly better than the other?

Doing is implying that you’re just acting, more or less, out of habit, routine, or necessity. Comparable to a robot. Thinking is just that, thinking without actions. And then would being be a combination? Something that involves some sort of passion, and compassion — something deeper than just going through the steps. Is this what our Philosopher Chopra is getting at?

When we were little, the question was “what do I want to be” — as if there was some sort of grander purpose or a higher calling associated with every career we could imagine. As we grew, the question became “what do I want want to do (with my life)” — that either we had already discovered who we were a person, or that we could separate ourselves from our careers. Being a Program Assistant has little influence on who I am, it’s just what I’m currently doing.

One thing I appreciated from my alma matter was that many graduates signed a pledge to be deliberate and responsible when choosing a job. That we not let our need to earn a living replace our values — or rather, GC’s values (compassionate peacemakers, passionate learners, global citizens, servant leaders — all of which were “Christ Centered”). Now, I don’t feel that what I’m currently doing is something grand. But I do still try to live out the values that my family and my college tried to pound into me.

Anyway. I feel that I’m getting rambly. Maybe too much of a human thinking.

(Oh, apparently Deepak Chopra will be here in the Northern Territories next week, lecturing in a building just east of where my office is (which isn’t far seeing as I’m just off the lake). However, they are requiring a large sum of money to attend, so it looks like I’m going to be scouring the student news to see if there are any free speeches or class visits I can attend.)

Previous post:

Next post: