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Humanist Cultural Change

How to encourage Humanism in cultures that resist change

I was asked by Andrew to address the issue of how Humanism can help transform cultures where the cultures resist change. He was specifically asking about cultures where women are not given rights.

I always find it interesting when conservatives equate Humanism with moral and cultural relativism.  Moral and cultural relativism is the idea that all cultures are morally equivalent and that we have no ability to determine whether any given cultural practice is moral or not because for that culture it is.

In reality, Humanists don’t suffer from cultural or moral relativism. We have rather strong opinions and when it comes to respecting human rights, we are unapologetic about are commitment to individual rights.

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Humanism vs. Dogma

Why does Humanism have no dogma?

Humanism has no dogma.  We have a set of principles that we try to live by, but even those are in flux and change.  Every few years, a group of prominent Humanists get together and write a Humanist Manifesto – which sounds a lot like it would be dogmatic, but it isn’t. It’s actually a consensus document. It’s not about what we must believe, but rather about, after much debate, several Humanists agree Humanism is at this point in time.

The current manifesto is Humanism and It’s Aspirations at: http://americanhumanist.org/Humanism/Humanist_Manifesto_III

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4 Reasons to Practice Compassion

Compassion as a Problem Solving Technique

4 Reasons to Practice Compassion

As a Humanist educator, my job is to teach people how to solve their problems in a reasonable, compassionate and ethical way. To me, compassion is an integral part of my problem solving process. There is a reason why every major religion and philosophy emphasizes compassion. It’s an incredibly powerful tool that most people don’t take the time to utilize or practice.

You may be wondering what compassion has to do with problem solving because problem solving is an intellectual activity, something you have to think to do.  Compassion is an emotion, what does compassionate have to do with thinking rationally? 

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Was Jesus a Humanist?

Jesus was a Humanist

If Jesus existed, he was probably a Humanist.

Was Jesus a Humanist?

I realize that there is an academic debate about whether Jesus truly existed or not. It’s possibly his story was made up as a way to control the masses. I like to think he existed though.

My Christian friends are always surprised when I say this, but I like the Jesus story. It would be nice if it were true. The problem is that I only like his story if he is human. If he is divine, his story doesn’t interest me at all.

I am, after all, a Humanist. Human stories of oppression and redemption enthrall me. All stories, fiction and non-fiction, help inform who I am and more importantly, who I want to be.  It doesn’t matter to me if the Jesus story is true or not. What matters is, is it a good story and can I learn anything of moral value from it?

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Speaking Truth To Power

Speaking Truth to Power

The use of human rights education to combat bullying.

Bullying Affects Everyone - Bullying Tip #37

The Kennedy clan is taking on school bullying in a really interesting way. The Kennedys, through Project SEATBELT. are hoping to curb bullying by teaching kids about human rights. (see: http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/changing-school-culture-can-end-bullying/2013/08/11/e41fee0a-fe11-11e2-96a8-d3b921c0924a_story.html)

The goal is to encourage kids to see themselves as Human Rights defenders. This will help them not only be engaged citizens of the world, but it will hopefully encourage them to have the moral courage required to stand up to the bullies in their midst.
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