The softcover book, given to me at age thirteen, was called Ten Rungs by Martin Buber. The philosophical sayings were different from the philosophy books my dad used to read to me many evenings, yet meaningful as well. "In every man there is something precious, which is in no one else." I just knew that was totally true even at my very young age.
Also, in this same paperback, it said: "For if someone like him had already been, there would be no reason for him to be in this world." I still find, decades and decades later, these two comments to be almost opposite.
Not being self-absorbed, I did and still do feel unique. I could easily use biology to defend that no one else alive has my fingerprints or DNA. My personality, experiences, environment, health, emotional growth, as examples, set me apart and giving has always been more "comfortable" than receiving. But many of these traits are universal. How I've used them may define "me."
"For if someone like him had already been, there would be no reason for him to be in this world." There was no one like my dad, and that isn't because he was only in his forties when he died. But there is always a reason for someone like him to actually be in this world because he displayed sensitivity and caring for others, had a remarkable work ethic, and so forth. Shouldn't there be justification for humankind in general to have the traits he had with his ability to love unconditionally, encourage others, and be an example of virtue? My notes in the margins of Ten Rungs showed I questioned this comment.
One of my granddaughters is taking a course on the human predicament. I mentioned that I had a predicament regarding humanism, and gave her these two quotes to think about. If there's one person who is intelligent, compassionate, generous, selfless, and so forth, shouldn't the quote about not having another like him be totally disregarded? Shouldn't we want him cloned? He (or she) wouldn't lose the precious uniqueness since we come to our values from many routes, but I see more circumstances that call for the special substance of quiet greatness than only individuality.
The book my dad read to me was from the Little Journeys to the Homes of the Great series--the volume called Philosophers. Elbert Hubbard put...