In my brief profile on my homepage, I mention that I am a father, a teacher, a blogger and a humanist. Since started this blog a few weeks ago. Since then, I have had several queries about what humanism is and why I have chosen to follow this philosophy.
What Is Humanism?
In simple terms, as a humanist I am on an ongoing quest to become enlightened. However, this is not in any religious sense. Rather, I am on a quest to find truth and beauty in the world and to then share this with others.
The Elements Of Humanism
As a species we have the gift of a powerful innate intelligence. This gives us the capacity to discern truth using revidence, logic and reason. We have learnt so much about the world. In fact, it is estimated our collective knowledge is now doubling every 9 years. Yet, we still struggle to make use of this knowledge. Why? Because we cling to superstitions and blind beliefs. Humanists seek to consciously overcome this struggle and to encourage others to do the same.
We can also use our intelligence to allow creativity to flourish. We sing, we write, we paint and we act – albeit, some of us better than others . Furthermore, we can appreciate the artistic endeavours of others. These may be novels, sculptures, songs or something else. Humanists seek to consciously appreciate the creativity around them.
Yet, reason and creativity are not enough. We are also wired to feel compassion for those in need. This innate tendency calls us to help our fellow man. Humanists consciously strive to answer this call.
I think the Humanist Manifesto sums all of this up nicely. It explains that humanists are guided by reason, inspired by compassion, and informed by experience. Such guidance encourages us to live life well and fully.
Of course, humanists are not the only people who seek truth, who appreciate beauty, or who show compassion. However, the combination of all three is quite unique.
Humanists are guided by reason, inspired by compassion, and informed by experience— such guidance encourages us to live life well and fully.
Sadly, some people still cling to superstitions, some fail to appreciate beauty around them, and others have no regard for the needs of those around them. At a personal level, such failures can lead to a lack of self-fulfilment. At a collective level, they have seen humanities potent power turned to evil ends.
So Why Did I Become A Humanist?
After spending the last 6 months in hospital and cheating death on several occasions, I have had a lot of time to think about what life is all about. The notion that you can achieve personal growth through seeking truth, and then compassionately using that knowledge to create a better society resonated with the person I want to be.
Related: Humanism and Religion