John Green’s video dismisses the biological definitions of personhood

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John Green's video rejects biological conceptions of personhood and insists that personhood extends beyond the human race. Humans have a distinct sense of consciousness that distinguishes them from all non-human animals. According to Green, personhood stretches beyond a species definition, and individuals can reject the dignity of others even though they are members of the same species (Green). Green cites evidence to support this claim, such as where the government fails to consider racial minorities or when one individual perceives another as inferior. The video demonstrates how narratives can help us feel more human. However, the art of telling stories is not common among people with intellectual disabilities because they are unable to read or write (Green). The definitions of humanness have often excluded people with challenges such as poverty, disability, and diseases.

Quite often, narrow definitions of humanness have been embraced. Green supports this notion by recognizing how Europeans and Americans deprived black people of their essential humanity during slavery. In the contemporary world, one needs to have a human body, a human spirit, and ID card as a way of attesting to a particular citizenship (Green). Other demographics such as sex, race, class, and gender also determine how human an individual is treated in the world. Green underscores the need to confer personhood upon each other and uphold compassion, love, and trust. In addition, there is a need to acknowledge each other’s complexity and consciousness for human beings to lead better lives. Fundamentally, Green reveals that people are human because they believe in each other’s humanness. People can listen to one another and work towards alleviating the suffering of one another. Green concludes that people should always aspire to be human.

Green’s ideas on becoming human have an association with Jerome David Salinger’s The Catcher in Rye. The novel underpins alienation, innocence, difficulties of growing up, and phoniness as important themes that override the story. Holden appears to be alienated from the world around him (Salinger 56). However, the development of the novel reveals that the perceived alienation is a means by which Holden is seeking protection. Thus, his isolation embodies a sense of uniqueness even though it is evident that Holden gets overwhelmed if he interacts with other people. Holden’s innocence does not allow him to find out the source of his problems. In this lonely state of affairs, The Catcher in Rye embodies the loss of humanness as echoed by Green. The novel illuminates how Holden desires love and comfort. In the same way, Green observes that the only way people can be human is by expressing love, compassion, and trust. Holden experiences an internal conflict triggered by his desire for Sally’s love and the need for isolation.

Holden Caulfield is depicted as a very unusual protagonist in the novel. He is apprehensive about maturity and he tries to resist it. Holden perceives adulthood as synonymous with hypocrisy and superficiality (Salinger 126). To Holden, phoniness (everything wrong with the world) is an inevitable phenomenon in adulthood. On the other hand, he believes that childhood is characterized by honesty, innocence, and a sense of curiosity. Through this perspective of innocence, Holden recognizes that being human resides in childhood. In this regard, the novel’s illumination of childhood is consistent with Green’s understanding of humanness. Throughout the development of the novel, it is evident that Holden’s conception of childhood and adulthood is shallow.

Works Cited

Green, John. “What it means to be Human?” Vlogbrothers. 2015, June 9. Web. 2017, August 12. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2FPpwxHtXLU

Salinger, J. D. Catcher in the Rye. Boston. Little, Brown and Company. 1991.

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