Only human

tess r YbXj nkAU unsplash

“I’m only human.” 

With this phrase, we suggest that our humanity is our biggest limitation. To be only human is an admission of guilt of sorts, a viable explanation for why we have behaved in some unfortunate way.

Yes, it must be noted that this turn of phrase is often used to forgive or show leniency to ourselves. “Oh well, I’m only human! I can’t expect perfection.” That is healthy and vital. Too often we strive for impossible standards of perfection due to our feelings of shame and unworthiness.

But to me, the phrase also suggests shame for our kind. It equates humanity with being flawed, as if our flaws are our defining characteristic. But as far as I can see nothing on Earth is perfect or flawed per se. Humanity itself has invented the concepts of “flawed” and “perfect” largely to shame itself. We create the notion of perfect so that we can remind ourselves that we are not it.

It’s time we reclaim this word. We aren’t only human. Being flawed is not what defines us. What defines us is our very ability to reflect on and refine ourselves. We are the only entities on Earth that are able to recognize our own “flaws” and then make a conscious effort to improve upon them. It’s not the flaw, it’s the recognition of a possibility for something different and more beautiful, that defines us.

“Flaws” are really just our recognition of untapped potentials. This ability is profoundly powerful and empowering. It is an exceptional gift.


Peter Schulte

Peter Schulte is the Executive Director of Kindling. Peter is also Senior Digital Engagement Associate for the Pacific Institute and the UN Global Compact's CEO Water Mandate, connecting businesses to sustainable water practices. Peter holds a B.S. in Conservation and Resource Studies and a B.A. in Comparative Literature from University of California, Berkeley, and an M.B.A. in Sustainable Systems from Pinchot University. He lives in Bellingham, WA, USA with his wife, two sons, and cat. Learn more about Peter's store here.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.

Get a spark 💥Good news & change milestones from around the world