BY: Hyrum H. Huskey Jr.
Hyrum H. Huskey Jr. is a Las Vegas published writer and member of the Southern Nevada and Las Vegas Writers groups. He retired from a succession of “careers” as a commissioned military officer, education counselor, college Dean of Student Services, and public transit executive. For four years, he was a regular contributing journalist for a small town weekly newspaper. His retired interests are: leaving behind the tomfoolery of “working for a living”, driving back and forth across the continent as many times as finances permit, writing short stories and occasional creative nonfiction, clowning around for grandchildren, and trying to practice effective Humanism. See more of his writing at www.hyrumhuskey.com.
Over time, what we call Humanism has attracted a wide variety of folks. Freethinkers, religious dissenters, non-believers, agnostics, doubters of certain religious creeds, and persons who have simply abandoned a religion in which they once participated.
All types have been drawn to the humanist way of life. The very term, humanism, may be so broadly interpreted that the humanist movement draws in some persons who aren’t quite yet sure where they eventually want to land regarding an undergirding platform for their own life.
So, does Humanism have a core? Or, is it simply a way of life once suggested by a religiously committed family member of mine, when she commented: “It sounds like you could justify doing whatever you wanted and not worry about the afterlife.” Well no—and yes!
I doubt that many of those who identify as humanists believe that they could do anything they desired to do. We still are guided by the concept of laws for the social good of humankind, laws needed for an ordered and just society. We believe (perhaps not always as actively as might be wished), that our actions should be based on the Golden Rule. Yet, as a group, we either lack a belief in afterlife, or we do not believe that our lives should be based on the hope of a reward or punishment from unproven God(s).
Humanists are humans in the fullest sense of that term. We are unique as individuals; yet, very common in our human being-ness. Humanists are neither less nor better in worth than any other person on this rock in space. Our respect for the individual is for his or her rights inherent in human existence. It does not reflect respect for all behavior.
Respect, however, does not always exist in a perfect harmony of intent and purpose between individuals. We strive to obtain consensus through evidence, reason, and a respect for science-based facts. Yet, we sometimes believe that our opinion is solidly based, while another’s is just plain wacky!
We have differing gifts, differing limitations, and the occasional lack of motivation- -even toward our own goals. This requires each person to prioritize time, activities, and monetary support, like all humans must do.
We respect change. The basic principles on which the American Humanist Association operates, The Humanist Manifestos, have themselves been revised roughly every forty years. Progress in science, interaction with a multitude of world cultures, and increased understanding of social patterns requires adaptation. Individual growth depends on our ability to adjust to these changes, while focusing on how the changes should be handled to support the progress and enhancement of all humankind.
In conclusion, I personally believe the core of Humanism is deeply rooted in the Golden Rule. Every individual can focus his or her everyday practices and beliefs toward goals that better our interactions with others, and improve lives both locally and across the globe.
We can support government policies that benefit all humans the most, “doing unto others what we would have them do unto us.” Conversely, we are duty bound to oppose actions that violate human rights or degrade a group of individuals. There is no one way to accomplish our most optimistic goals. Still, there are some ways that reasonably make more factual sense than other methods.
As the old saying goes, today is the first day of the rest of your life. Jump into it! It also is the first day of the rest of every other human life. Welcome each day in your life of Humanism, whatever your variation of that life entails. Strive to better the lives of others in some small way—as a Humanist.