Humanism

20 12 2008

Humanism is attacked by fundamentalists all the time, but that just shows either that they are ignorant of what humanism is, or uncaring toward humanity. They seem to have no idea what humanists actually think or want.

I can’t speak for all humanists of course, but as for me, I just want humanity to act with humanity. The word “humanity” is used to represent our best qualities, the things that people are capable of doing for each other. It’s an ideal. We’re human, so we fall short of that ideal, but as a humanist I think that it’s an ideal worth striving for. So here’s my view of humanism.

I believe that humanity is capable of tremendous acts of beauty. I maintain that people can perform incredible miracles for each other. We don’t need priests or prophets; even the most everyday of human miracles is like a little star shining. Their miracles are a pale little flashlight by comparison. The smallest of human acts of kindness are beautiful, and we do them all the time. Our greatest acts are truly stunning, and even those are not so rare. What do priests offer us that can compare to our acts of humanity?

Science, the hard work and toil of humanity at understanding things, has given us things beyond imagination.  It’s a hard way to come to knowledge. Religions claim to offer an easy way, but there is no easy way. Understanding the universe is hard, but it is worth it. It gives us works of enormous beauty. It lets us see a little of the might of nature. We can see the towering pillars of a nebula, the heart of a star, the workings of an atom, the making of a species. Religions offer us cheap wonder for little work, but science offers us magnificence. We must work for it, but we learn.

We have the capacity to commit terrible atrocities, but we do far more good than bad. People can learn to do the right thing. It’s hard, but that’s the point. We’re human, so there’s no quick fix. We work for it, every day. Everyone, every single day, tries to do the right thing. Sometimes we screw up, but humanity strives for its best qualities. We have begun to understand our worst side, and so we have begun to understand how to beat it. People know how hard it is, and they still try. They still succeed, even if there are a few missteps. That’s why I love humanity. We fight with ourselves to do what we believe is right, even when it’s hard, even when it hurts.

My dream for humanity is to finally follow this side of us. I dream that some day we will realize our capacity for greatness. That one day we will truly be able to say that war is over, and to live at peace with ourselves. That one day, we can look forward and not have to fear for our children’s future, because thanks to us, we can at last know that it is a safe and happy one.