HUMANIST CORNER March 2019

“Humanism is a rational philosophy informed by science, guided by reason, inspired by art and motivated by compassion. Affirming the dignity of each human being, it supports liberty and opportunity consonant with social and planetary responsibility. Free of theism and other supernatural beliefs, humanism derives the goals of life from human need and interest rather than from theological or ideological abstractions and asserts that humanity must take responsibility for its own destiny.” Humanist philosophy as posted in each edition of “The Humanist” magazine.
“Anyone who believes that exponential growth can go on forever in a finite world is either a madman or an economist.” Kenneth Boulding -economist
It didn’t occur to me that an explanation of humanism to 21st century UU’s would be called for, but perhaps it is – along with my own role as part of it. The principles outlined each Sunday in our Order of Service are pure humanism. On line, Isaac Asimov’s “Humanism – Making Bigger Circles” is spot on after three decades.
Humanism’s recent decline in UU circles has been attributed to “hard” atheists such as Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris etc. Their impatience with “organized religion,” although understandable, could easily be taken as an attack. Atheists may be humanists, but humanists aren’t necessarily atheists, as in religious humanism or Jewish humanism. Neither would I insist such as Billy Graham Jr. or Pat Robertson are exemplary Christians. Nor consider evangelical enthusiasts for our president as fervently driven by their motto WWJD.
No more than all Buddhists might approve of Myanmar’s persecution of their Rohinga neighbors, or their treatment of their Thai Muslim minority. The Hindu assignment of their Muslim minorities to the “Dalit” category of citizenship seems faulty on both counts. Shia and Sunni were known to live together contentedly in Iraq, Libya and Syria. Theologies often seem to ignore, when convenient, the universal, humanistic maxim to treat others as oneself, or even better.
From age thirteen to thirty little is heard from Jesus until he takes up the ministry. In his book “The Lost Years of Christ Revealed” Unitarian minister Charles F Potter speculates Jesus studied with a communal society living by the Dead Sea known as Essenes. Much of their wisdom, it’s said, was echoed in his famous “Sermon on the Mount.” Particularly as set out in Mark 7:16. Another humanistic treasure “Ye shall know them by their fruits,” which in Greek or Hebrew translation would be the famous “By their deeds ye shall know them.” In our modern vernacular, “Forget the labels!”
Let me digress for a moment. As a humanist minister/counselor in Okaloosa County I’ve been a minister without congregants, a teacher without students. Our Pensacola peers have managed to put together an effective and very active humanist chapter, quite similar to one we once had. No longer performing secular rites of passage, attending demonstrations or marches, I remain just an old guy with a message. Job One being simply the survival, perhaps even flourishing of my species, fellow creatures and our planetary home. So when I feel religions or ideology block us from that objective I’m inclined to speak out. Surprise?
Speaking of which, there’s been much, recent speaking out on the topic of “Love.” That elusive human blessing, that although it’s never been fully described, – like art, we know it when we see it. Whether between two individuals or within a group setting, the aura it can produce is almost palpable!
In a recent Op-Ed (as yet unpublished) I’ve drawn attention to a recent “Sixty Minutes” segment featuring a group of youngsters, ages nine through adolescence, who are suing the government to de-carbonize America as rapidly as possible. Their driving force obviously being the result growing climatic peril will have on their future options, careers, even life spans. Afterall “Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” as protected by the government, means little without breathable air, potable water or arable land…
It’s heartening to see a fellowship “climate” group forming. By their deeds we shall know them, or my favorite rallying cry, “Silence implies consent.” Like those kids, let’s speak out whenever we can. Here’s hoping their spiritual and humanistic litigation steams ahead as it seems likely to do.
SHALOM