What does it mean to be human? To most people it means being high on the food chain; or having the ability to make our own choices. People everywhere have a few things in common: We all must obey Natural laws, and we have preconceived ideas, stereotypes, and double standards. Being human is simply conveyed as human nature in “The Cold Equations”, by Tom Godwin, where the author shows the common ground that makes each and every one of us human.
First of all, everyone must obey universal Natural Laws. For example, Death is inevitable. “b amount of fuel will not power an EDS with a mass of m plus x safely to its destinationto the laws of nature she was x, the unwanted factor in a cold equation.” (Godwin pg. 21) In “The Cold Equations”, An EDS pilot found a stowaway in the closet, and is forced by natural law to kill her, or be killed himself. The “cold equation” shows that according to natural laws: x amount of gas could not power the weight of the EDS pilot plus the weight of the girl. He was so shocked to see a girl that he didn’t kill her. She had created a moral dilemma between “God’s Laws” and Natural Laws. Unfortunately a choice had to be made: on one hand, kill one person and on the other, kill seven.” Death is a natural law and no human in the universe can ever change it.
Second, most societies have a multitude of preconceived ideas. A preconceived idea can be a stereotype or a double standard. A stereotype is a general statement made about a specific group of people, such as, all jocks are stupid. A stereotype is not necessarily correct. “warped men, men, selfish men, brutal dangerous men” (Godwin pg. 13) The EDS Pilot has this preconceived idea of stowaways. He expects to find a man who deserves to die for his crime. On the contrary, he is met with the sight of: “a smiling blue-eyed girl who was willing to pay for her fine and work for her keep that she might see her brother.” (Godwin pg.13) This twist threw him off guard, and suddenly killing without compassion was a nearly impossible feat.
Likewise, double standards are present in our everyday life. Double standards can be as simple as who washes the dishes, or as complex as the roles of men and woman. In “The Cold Equations”, men and woman are faced with a double standard of a different sort. “Within a minute the body would have been ejected into space- had the stowaway been a man.” (Godwin pg. 11) In this story, all EDS Pilots are used to killing stowaways with lack of emotion, because there is no alternative. Nevertheless, when an EDS Pilot is being told to kill a girl, he doesn’t know what to do. He even bends the rules to let her talk to her brother right before she dies, even though a man would have been killed instantly. This compassion shows that although a person can become numb to even murder, human nature is still persistent. Even a hardened killer can show compassion.
Tom Godwin wrote “The Cold Equations” to show that human nature is ultimately what it means to be human. Natural laws, preconceived ideas, and double standards are all common grounds in human nature.