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What defines a human?

Humans, or homo sapiens, are mammals, walk on two feet, are omnivorous, and possess opposable thumbs. We communicate, cooperate and construct new tools to aid in our survival. We build, we tear down, we change the environment around us to better suit our needs.

But that is not what makes a human… human.

What truly differentiates us from the beasts? There are other mammals. There are other creatures that walk on two feet. Other omnivores. Other wielders of opposable thumbs.

Animals communicate while hunting. Wolves will cooperate in order to take down large prey and then divide up the spoils. Chimpanzees have been known to use simple tools in order to obtain food.

Bees build hives. Termites tear down wooden structures. Birds create nests in order to safely lay their eggs.

Are these creatures human? Hardly.

So what is it about us that makes us… us?

Several people have attempted to answer this question over the centuries. Some have said that we are human because we are sentient, others believe that it is our eternal souls that define us.

I believe that these are two valid beliefs.

I, however, believe that we are human because of our ability to create.

A human can look at a landscape and see a city. A human can see shapes in a cloud of water vapor. A human can look at the world around them and think up something completely new.

Where do stories come from? Where do ideas originate? After coming up with a story idea, I often stop and ask myself where it might have come from. Perhaps I was inspired by something I witnessed. Perhaps I simply recombined several disparate ideas into one new one.

But every so often I find that I cannot answer my own question. A new idea. A spark of creativity. Spontaneous creation.

This power, this incredible ability to not only see what lies before us, but what could yet be, defines us.

If not for that mysterious power, we might still be sitting in our caves. But, because of this gift, one of our ancestors looked around at his world and decided to create something new. That action triggered a landslide of world changing thoughts. Can I somehow tame fire? Can I somehow fly in the sky? Can I somehow leave this planet? People, time and time again, looking at their world and deciding to bring in something new. Fire, flight, space travel. None possible without a spark of creativity.

Creativity is a gift, a blessing, a power without limit or restraint. Do not let it fester. Do not let it wallow. Do not let it die.

Look around you. What do you see? Are you content with what lies before you? Is your world complete?

Look again. Do you see what could be? Will you be the one to make something new? Will you change the world?

Do not misunderstand. I do not ask you to write a novel. I do not ask you to pen a poem. I do not ask of you to do what I do.

I ask of you to do what you can do. Create a new song, a new invention, a new language, a new game, a new anything. Look inside your mind, find that special place filled with all things creative, and let those thoughts out into the world.

You might just be surprised by what you make.

So, to summarize, humans are creative, creativity is a gift, and gifts are meant to be shared.

Thank you for listening.

 

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