Staying small in a big world – 2010. Essay by Jaap van der Wal on being human.
There have been cultures, where people counted the period of pregnancy as the first year of life. An intuitive appreciation of this pre-birth existence as an essential part of our earthly existence? In our culture, we do not “count” a person until they are born. Does that also mean that we do not (yet) give an unborn human being the right to exist? Every new birth unmistakably has many elements of a beginning, a new becoming. A human being enters the world that expected him and where (hopefully) space is made for him to become himself. But in a strict sense this is stated as the spectators, the bystanders see it; can see it. But how entirely different this event is illuminated when we stand on the other side. Where did the newborn child come from? What was the world it lived in, before birth? What did human functioning, being human, look like then? Knowledge and understanding of the pre-birth development of the human being can give insight into what a dramatic transition birth actually is, but can also make it easier to understand the background against which the first months of an infant’s life should be viewed. Simply put: an awareness of what it was like to be a fetus, to be an embryo.
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