The Art of Being Fully Human
Leo Buscaglia


What I'm going to be talking to you about tonight is a subject that is really dear to my heart, and that is the art--literally, the art--of being fully human.  I don't know about you, but I really love the concept that I am a human being and have all the potential to be a human being.

I remember being terribly moved by something that I read in a book of Haim Ginott's.  It's a very poignant thing and it's written by a school principal who gave this to Ginott.  She said:

"I am a survivor of a concentration camp.  My eyes saw what no person should witness.  Gas chambers built by learned engineers.  Children poisoned by educated physicians.  Infants killed by trained nurses.  Women and children shot and killed by high school and college graduates.  So I'm suspicious of education.  My request is:  help your students to be human.  Your efforts must never produce learned monsters, skilled psychopaths, or educated Eichmanns.  Reading and writing and spelling and history and arithmetic are only important if they serve to make our students human."

You know what occurred to me?  We teach everything in the world to people, except the most essential thing.  And that is life.  Nobody teaches you about life.  You're supposed to know about it.  Nobody teaches you how to be a human being and what it means to be a human being, and the dignity that it means when you say, "I am a human being."

Everyone assumes this is something you have, or you should have gotten by osmosis.  Well, it's not working by osmosis!

I love to do talk shows because you encounter so many beautiful people.  Everybody wants a definition.  Isn't that interesting?  "Dr. Buscaglia, will you define love?"  And I say "Nooo!  But if you follow me around I'll try to live it."

It's very difficult to define, because it's such an enormously broad concept.  The more I live in joy and beauty, the greater a lover I become.  Every day, I'm becoming a greater and greater lover.  And to define it would be to limit it.  But at least along the way I kind of have an idea of where I am.  But I also know that if I put my hand out, you could give me new definitions, new strokes, new ideas, and together we could grow.

There are maybe two thousand people here tonight.  There isn't one person who hasn't known loneliness.  Isn't that wonderful?  There isn't one person who hasn't known despair.  Isn't that wonderful?  There isn't one person who hasn't cried.  But also, there aren't many who haven't laughed, who haven't known joy.  And in all those ways, we can communicate.  We're alike, because I've known it, too, and we're all involved in the same struggle:  to become fully human--which is the best thing we can become.  And what a goal!  What a wonderful goal.

To me, probably the most exciting thing in the world is the realization that I have the potential of being fully human.  I can't be a God, but I can be a fully functioning human being!  And what I'd like to do is talk to you about some of the things that I think are essential in order to become a fully functioning human being.

We must get back to the point again; and, this is going to shock a lot of people, and you're not going to like it, but I'm going to risk it.  I feel this very strongly.  We've got to risk again by saying that "I like me."  You cannot give to anyone in this world what you do not have.  And therefore you must concentrate on getting.  You must become the most beautiful, sensitive, wondrous, magical, unique, fantastic person in the world to be able to have all of these things in order to give them away and share them.  Think about it.  If I don't have wisdom I can only teach you my ignorance.  If I don't have joy I can only teach you despair.  If I don't have freedom I can only put you in cages.  But everything I have I can give away.  That's the only reason for having it.  But I've got to have it first.  And so I dedicate myself to becoming the best Leo the world has ever known.

Being the best Leo, I can love you as the best you.  I will not have anybody playing "follow me."  Because when you start following my way, it will lead you to me and you will get lost.  The only way to follow is your way.  You're that magic combination that will never be again, and I don't care who you are, how exalted you feel or how lonely you feel.  Every one of you is something unique and special.  I wish we could tell this to children early so it wouldn't take them a lifetime to find out!  You have a unique world to share.

People who have studied perception and sensation know that everyone sees the world in a different way.  Yet, it's the same world.  We don't observe a tree in the same way.  Yet it's the same tree.  Wouldn't it be wonderful if we could share that tree and see it in two different ways?  Just the concept sends me into orbit.  And yet I hear people constantly saying, "What have I to offer?"  You know what you have to offer?  A central piece of the jigsaw puzzle.  Unless you assume the responsibility, that picture never will be completed.  I'll never see your tree and I'm convinced that we still have misery, despair, agony, all of those things, because people didn't actualize themselves and share their worlds.  Because if they had, our picture would have been clearer.  You have something to paint on that tapestry that's uniquely yours.  Don't miss the opportunity.  You are wondrous.  You are magical.  There is only one you.

The next time you pass a mirror, look in it and say, "My goodness.  You know, it's true!  There's only one of me!"  Oh, if we could get into that!  And the wonderful thing is, too, that it doesn't matter where we are in that "you."  You're only just beginning, because do you know that no one has ever been able to find a limit to human potential, or to humanness?  You are unlimited possibilities.

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Life is made up not necessarily of great sacrifices or high-level duties
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Worldwide Laws of Life



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I have given up the ambition to be a great scholar.  I want to be more--
simply a human. . . . We are not true humans, but beings who live by a
civilization inherited from the past, that keeps us hostage, that confines us.
No freedom of movement.  Nothing.  Everything in us is killed by our
calculations for our future, by our social position and cast.  You see, I am
not happy--yet I am happy.  I suffer, but that is part of life.  I live, I don't
care about my existence, and that is the beginning of wisdom.

Albert Schweitzer