As a human person, I am a social being, a member of a family, an ethnicity, a citizen of a nation and of the world. The other can be for me an “it,” a “nobody,” a “he/she,” or a “thou” – a “you”!

If I consider the other as an “it,” or an object, then I dehumanize, disrespect him and her, treating them as a “means.” I must consider the other as what he and she is: a human person, who therefore should never be made an object, a ‘means’ because he/she is an end and never a means (Kant).

“No man is an island”! As a Christian, moreover, I am not alone. As the first Christians said: “Solus Christianus, nullus Christianus”- a solitary Christian is not a Christian. The Christian is also a member of the Church, the community of disciples of Christ. The Church is the People of God composed of the Pope, bishops, priests, religious women and men and lay faithful. All of them are equal in dignity, for there is only one God, One and Triune, and one baptism for all.

If I consider the other as a “nobody,” then I am indifferent to him/her, and this is inhuman. If I take the other as “he or she, then I respect them in justice, with equal dignity and rights, but I do not necessarily love them. If I consider the other as “thou,” I love her or him as members of the human family. As a human person, individual and social being, believer, the purpose of my life is to live with others in justice and love: to live with and for others. Only true justice and compassionate love can lead me to integral, personal and social harmony and peace – and happiness.

In religious perspective, in Christian perspective, the other is not just an equal but a brother or a sister in Christ. Christ, God/Man, is our Saviour and brother: our relationship with him is a relationship of fraternity: we are children of God the Father, brothers and sisters in Jesus (Rom 8:12; 1 Jn 3,11, 14; cf. CCC, 1931). Every neighbor is “as another self” (GS, 27).

What is my responsibility living with others? My fundamental responsibility is to respect and defend human rights, beginning with the fundamental: the right to life of every human being from the moment of conception to natural death. Therefore, and with due respect to everyone, I defend peacefully human life against procured abortion, direct euthanasia, direct homicide and the death penalty. My responsibility for the other’s life is to defend it and promote it. Not only his/her physical life but also a dignified life in the world.

Life is given to us, we earn it by giving it

Rabindranath Tagore,  poet, writer, playwright, composer, philosopher, social reformer and painter. Nobel prize winner in Literature (1913)

Human rights, the rights that belong to every human person by the fact that he and she belong to the human species, include the right to education, to basic health, to freedom, including freedom of conscience and religious freedom. I have to be just and promote justice, to be in solidarity with all, particularly the needy and poor. In solidarity, I have to work for freedom and truth: freedom in the truth but not freedom from the truth (John Paul II).

We all want to be happy. The pursuit of happiness is a basic human right. What makes me truly happy? This is what makes me happy and gives meaning to my life: to become more what I am, that is, to become a flourishing human being living with others and for others. The Asian Bishops say: “We Asians are searching not simply for the meaning of life but for life itself… We speak of life as a becoming – a growing into, a journeying to life and the source of life” (FABC). Life is trying constantly – and often failing – to become what we are as human beings and as Christians that entail being ethical in our personal and social life. I am totally convinced in my mind and in my heart that only doing good gives me some happiness and leads me to more happiness. On the contrary, doing evil makes me unhappy and disposes me to more unhappiness.

On October 5, 2011, Steve Jobs, Apple creator, passed away. Jay Elliot, ex-vice president of Apple says: “Steve was the most ethical and moral person I have known. This added to his passion for his projects was a combination that I had never seen before (…) He never did anything which was not proper to the most noble among human beings.” Wonderful!

In October 2011, the Forbes Magazine published the results of a survey conducted by the University of Chicago. The main question the researchers asked was: “Who is the happiest person?”  The most common answers were: The happiest is the priest or pastor; second, the fire-fighter; third, the physiotherapist; thereafter, the professor of special education, the teacher, artist (sculptor, painter), psychologist, etc.

The conclusion stating that generally priests/pastors are the happiest among other calls and professions confirms the results of many other research works on the same problem. Priests and pastors (most of them?) seem to be the happiest, above all perhaps, by reason of their relationship with God and others, and their usual inner peace. For me, the saints are – after Jesus – the happiest human beings in the world. As someone says, the greatest of their [the saints’] gifts are their smiles, symbol of their joyful inner and outer peace.

What is then the purpose, the meaning of life? It is love, the highest virtue and value; for love gives meaning to our life and increases our happiness. Indeed, as the great Rabindranath Tagore writes, “life is given to us, we earn it by giving it” – to others, most of all, to our family and the needy.

After trying to answer the second question, that is, who are you for me, I am ready to face the third and final question in the next column: Who is God for me?