The human species has made many advancements over other mammals and primates. We have enormous brains in relation to our body size. This size allows us the ability to solve complex problems and speak languages. We also evolved to walk upright on two legs. This adaptation gave us the advantage to walk longer distances, see farther, and carry items in our hands.
The human hand is the most-dexterous of all primates, as well. Besides having opposable thumbs like other primates, we can touch our thumb pad to every other finger pad on the same hand. This unique ability enables us to grasp items and gives us fine motor skills to create complicated tools, write, and play instruments.
Our hands are versatile at helping us perform many tasks and helping others, but we can also use our hands to hurt others.
The author didn’t necessarily write today’s fortune about hands, but the saying can easily relate to them, just as it can relate to our actions or words. The quote comes from Gilbert K. Chesterton and his book, Charles Dickens: The Last Of The Great Men (1906). He wrote, “There is a great man who makes every man feel small. But the real great man is the man who makes every man feel great.”
People can be cruel, especially in competitive situations. Some people believe that the only way to the top is by tearing others down. It should be easy to see how someone could use their hands to do just that.
We can use our hands to push people down, punch them in the gut, or slap them in the face. If we want to be less physical, we could use rude hand gestures to hurt someone’s feelings. One of the most passive-aggressive gestures we use is dismissing someone with a wave. Our hands can be tools or weapons, depending on how we treat each other.
We can hold hands with the ones we love and shake the hands of people we first meet. We can use our hands to communicate in sign language or give directions. We can even gain insight into others and their health by inspecting their hands.
Social media has even created multiple hands in different positions of various ethnicities to help us get the point across with the push of an emoji. Yet even these pictures can mean kindness or criticism depending on their context.
How can humans become that “real great man” Chesterton wrote about? Are we capable of using our hands to help others more often than harm them? Perhaps it takes more than just our hands.
Before we can even consider moving a muscle, we have to initiate the motion in our brains. There is a complex system of neural impulses that control what we do. We also have to question if our intentions come from our hearts.
If we want to use our hands effectively and helpfully, we must evolve past the hate, anger, and distrust. The ancient comic playwright Terence wrote, “Homo sum, humani nihil a me alienum puto.” It roughly translates to “I am human, and I think nothing human is alien to me.”
We all feel pain, anxiety, love, and kindness. We don’t have to experience the exact same lives to empathize with each other. We are all human, and we should want what’s best for all of us. The only way we can do that is to give the best of ourselves to each other. And that begins by giving each other a hand.