If you Google "the human element" the www will transport you in two or three directions. Yes, there's a digital multi-player video game that didn't make it, and an entire workplace philosophy with books and articles about design, productivity, and relationships on the job. In another dimension "the human element" is a metaphor-like phrase portraying a person from a chemical perspective. Wikipedia tells us that the idea originated with American engineer William Fairburn in 1914. French philosopher Pierre Teilhard used the image in a scientific sharpening of the evolution axe in the 1940's. In 2006 Dow Chemical resurrected the idea of "the human element" in a celebrated advertising campaign tagging "the human element" as the missing ingredient in life. The Dow approach was to focus attention on harnessing the human touch in addressing the many complicated issues of life. In a manner of speaking their use of "the human element" promotes an egocentric worldview with the brain power of "the human element"--- in all it's diversity--- as the solution for most world problems.
As a biblical creationist holding a Christian worldview my predominant linkage to "the human element" takes another slant. It is the simple truth that God intended for us to live this life in sync with other humans. That being true, along with the total depravity of human nature, "the human element' is raised to a prominent position in our personal priority system. Other people will be our central earthly connection. Just the same, other people will be our most puzzling life dilemmas, and in the next breath, our greatest life blessings. Learning to live with other people may be our most difficult lesson. It is a laboratory of messiness, the toxic poisons of human nature, the explosive ignitions of human emotions, and the praxis of history, often reality commentary on both the negatives and positives of God's most delicate creation.
There must be spiritual occasion for consideration of "the human element". Great sections of Scripture address the connections we have with others---
1. There are around 59 specific Bible verses about how Christians should
interact with other Christians. You can click here if you'd like to visit the
Christianity Today Bible Study portal to review them.
2. In the same way, Scripture teaches about every other dimension of personal
human relationships---within marriage, toward perceived enemies or
persecutors, interaction with unbelievers, correction of tensions with others,
appropriate response to those who wrong us, just about every relational
element within the immediate and extended family, to our teachers,
government authorities, business partners, friends, neighbors, those across
every conceivable human distinction (race, gender, age, class, education,
political affiliation, geographical choice) and acquaintances. Whew!
3. More significantly, our relationship with "the human element" is a test of faith.
That is, how we relate to others either confirms or negates the genuineness of
our relationship with God.
And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with
all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And
a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two
commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.
Matthew 22:37-40, ESV
If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does
not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen.
1 John 4:20, ESV
Even these three very elemental considerations of "the human element" give me pause as we begin to think about normalcy after the Covid-19 pandemic. My 70 year old eyes have never seen the nation divided like it is right now. Even more, there's never been a time in our history when we've been less prepared to deal with these factions. As a sidebar, the church seems impotent to bring the fruit of the Spirit (see Galatians 5:22-23) to impact these relational ills. Instead, the works of the flesh appear to prevail---
Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality,
idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions,
divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned
you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.
Galatians 5:19-21, ESV
Note how many of these works are interpersonal dynamics.
As a result, I'll be addressing four of the missing interactions of "the human element" this week in the blog: mutuality [Mu], responsibility [Rs], accountability [Ay], and protection [Pr]. Please read carefully and share when you have the occasion.
Blessings for the weeks and months ahead!
The above image is the trademark of Dow Chemical Company for chemicals used in the manufacture of plastics, resins, and polymers. The trademark was abandoned January 31, 2011.