HUMANIST CORNER November 2019
“There are many humorous things in the world; among them the white man’s notion that he is less savage than the other savages” Mark Twain
We wear clothes and speak and create civilizations, and we believe we’re more than the wolves. But inside us there is a word we cannot pronounce and that’s who we are.” Anthony Moore “A Constellation of Vital Phenomena”
First my apologies for the length, but the topic seemed to warrant it. Hopefully you’ll bear with me.
The tasks now before us fall well beyond the “revolutionary,” but demand change on absolutely “evolutionary” levels. As many know that’s become something of a mantra for me these days! But let’s try to flesh out the bones a bit on that statement, eh? First, it has nothing to do with “sin.” In fact Buddhism makes no mention of sin but emphasizes that life, itself, is difficult and we must simply do what we can using our brains.
That most ancient grey matter, the reptilian brain, sits comfortably atop the spinal cord, much like a knob perched amid our head. Many behaviors find expression there, such as:_
Obsessive compulsive behavior
Personal day-to-day rituals, superstitious acts
Slavish conformance to the old way of doing things
Adherence to precedents, a sin, legal, religious, cultural and other activities
Response to coloration, oddness, whether alive or inanimate
Reactions to manners of deception
Establishment of territory (This extends far beyond land, and feeds “us versus them” constructs. Beyond the fight or flee responses, surely there must be a middle ground response. Maybe, pause, then act. Albert Einstein reminds us, “You can’t solve problems with the same level of consciousness that created them.” Consciousness burned into us by countless generations of economic, political, social and technological upheaval.
Neuroscientist Paul D. MacLean introduced the Reptilian Complex or R Complex (the triune brain model) naming existing structures of the generic brain:-
1. The R-Complex
2. The limbic system (similar to the brain of more primitive mammals)
3. The neo-cortex (more recent mammal’s capacity for learning)
While the R-Complex indicates little growth, studies increasingly point to increased growth in other brain areas. A glimmer of hope for that implausible but possible change on an “evolutionary” scale. The ability of organisms to adapt to rapidly shifting environments. Intelligence. We have that ability!
The first Humanist Manifesto was born in the treacherous Thirties; another dark time for the human family. Progress raising its hopeful head, ultimately to be drowned in the great lake of greed and acquisition that followed. Another spark flickered again in the Sixties, once again smothered by the now familiar wave of profit, patriotism and the religious right movement. What I’ve attempted to outline here is we’ve a developed brain power that must not allow that to happen again – when ALL depends upon it! So in that spirit, I offer Humanist Manifesto III for your consideration going forward:-
Humanism and Its Aspirations: Humanist Manifesto III, a Successor to the Humanist Manifesto of 1933
Humanism is a progressive philosophy of life that, without supernaturalism, affirms our ability and responsibility to lead ethical lives of personal fulfillment that aspire to the greater good of humanity.
The lifestance of Humanism—guided by reason, inspired by compassion, and informed by experience—encourages us to live life well and fully. It evolved through the ages and continues to develop through the efforts of thoughtful people who recognize that values and ideals, however carefully wrought, are subject to change as our knowledge and understandings advance.
This document is part of an ongoing effort to manifest in clear and positive terms the conceptual boundaries of Humanism, not what we must believe but a consensus of what we do believe. It is in this sense that we affirm the following:
Knowledge of the world is derived by observation, experimentation, and rational analysis. Humanists find that science is the best method for determining this knowledge as well as for solving problems and developing beneficial technologies. We also recognize the value of new departures in thought, the arts, and inner experience—each subject to analysis by critical intelligence.
Humans are an integral part of nature, the result of unguided evolutionary change. Humanists recognize nature as self-existing. We accept our life as all and enough, distinguishing things as they are from things as we might wish or imagine them to be. We welcome the challenges of the future, and are drawn to and undaunted by the yet to be known.
Ethical values are derived from human need and interest as tested by experience. Humanists ground values in human welfare shaped by human circumstances, interests, and concerns and extended to the global ecosystem and beyond. We are committed to treating each person as having inherent worth and dignity, and to making informed choices in a context of freedom consonant with responsibility.
Life’s fulfillment emerges from individual participation in the service of humane ideals. We aim for our fullest possible development and animate our lives with a deep sense of purpose, finding wonder and awe in the joys and beauties of human existence, its challenges and tragedies, and even in the inevitability and finality of death. Humanists rely on the rich heritage of human culture and the lifestance of Humanism to provide comfort in times of want and encouragement in times of plenty.
Humans are social by nature and find meaning in relationships. Humanists long for and strive toward a world of mutual care and concern, free of cruelty and its consequences, where differences are resolved cooperatively without resorting to violence. The joining of individuality with interdependence enriches our lives, encourages us to enrich the lives of others, and inspires hope of attaining peace, justice, and opportunity for all.
Working to benefit society maximizes individual happiness. Progressive cultures have worked to free humanity from the brutalities of mere survival and to reduce suffering, improve society, and develop global community. We seek to minimize the inequities of circumstance and ability, and we support a just distribution of nature’s resources and the fruits of human effort so that as many as possible can enjoy a good life.
Humanists are concerned for the well being of all, are committed to diversity, and respect those of differing yet humane views. We work to uphold the equal enjoyment of human rights and civil liberties in an open, secular society and maintain it is a civic duty to participate in the democratic process and a planetary duty to protect nature’s integrity, diversity, and beauty in a secure, sustainable manner.
Thus engaged in the flow of life, we aspire to this vision with the informed conviction that humanity has the ability to progress toward its highest ideals. The responsibility for our lives and the kind of world in which we live is ours and ours alone.
As it is written, so let it be done…
HUMANIST CORNER November 2019