As a humanist group in Mississippi, we get a lot of commentary from Christian folks, mainly telling us we are of Satan, we need Jesus, to shut up, to move. In reading such comments, we can tell that these people, and the public in general, has little to no understanding of humanism and what it entails.
We hope to change that. We hope that those with no knowledge of humanism will take the time to read our posts about it, and educate themselves.
Politicians and the public alike blame secular humanism for all manner of ills in our societies, from mass killings to natural disasters. But, really, in doing so, they belie the fact that they know nothing about that which they blame all these horrid things on.
For being a simple life philosophy, humanism is also hard to encapsulate and explain. As a chapter of the American Humanist Association (AHA), we subscribe to their statement.
But what does that really say? What does it MEAN?
Let’s break this down.
“Humanism is a progressive philosophy of life that…”
Let’s look at the Merriam-Webster dictionary. So, “progressive” is a forward moving, gradual betterment, and one of the definitions of philosophy is “the most basic beliefs, concepts, and attitudes of an individual or group.” Therefore, we can say that one of the things that humanism is, is a belief that it is our responsibility and goal to move the human condition forward toward betterment for ALL people.
“…without theism, or other supernatural beliefs…”
Humanists generally do not subscribe to the idea of any supernatural deities or gods. Humanism does not rely on a dogma purportedly handed down from a supernatural being. There is no need for any supernatural gods, when all things on earth, good and bad, are delivered through human hands.
“…affirms our ability and responsibility to lead ethical lives of personal fulfillment…”
Humanism supports the idea that humans are ultimately responsible for living lives that are ethical, and that are meaningful to them personally. Humanism ascribes to the idea that humans are capable of determining right and wrong using empathy and experience, and we are led to contribute to the common good of all by learning about ourselves and others.
“…that aspire to the greater good of humanity.”
Our lives as humanists are driven by the idea that humans alone contribute to the progress (and the failures) of humanity. Humanism is the idea that humans are solely responsible for making our world a better place for ALL, and we as humanists aspire to do those things to make that happen.
So, simply put, humanism is the idea that we humans determine right from wrong without divine guidance, superstition and dogma, through experience and empathy. Humanism says people can determine the meaning and fulfillment in their lives, and we humans alone are responsible for the betterment of humanity.
All things on this earth, whether good or bad, come through human hands, not divine intervention. We, the people of Earth, are ultimately responsible for our progress, or our lack thereof. We are responsible for making our societies better and more just. There is no one to blame but ourselves if things are not better for all of humanity.
It’s up to us humans to make the world a better place for ALL of us. The responsibility for the fate of all of humanity is ours alone…in human hands.