Overcoming Apathy, Helplessness and despair

Overcoming Feelings of Helplessness

Given the immensity of the world’s problems, why bother?

That's Humanism - Patrick Stewart - British Humanist Association

I love this quote from Patrick Stewart. “It is what you do from now on that will either move our civilization forward a few tiny steps or else … begin to march us steadily backward.”

Yes. You are going to die. Yes, there is only so much a person can do.  Yes, the problems we face as a species seem insurmountable.  But that is no reason to feel helpless. 

Helplessness leads to apathy and apathy to despair. It has always seemed to me that despair is an illness born of magical thinking.  It is the idea that only something major will be enough to create change.  But big major things rarely just happen.  And when they do, they seem to happen as if by magic. And because it involved what seemed like “magic” no real effort was expended by any human.  All this, is of course false. Real change is caused by countless little changes adding up over time until a tipping point is reached.  It only seems magical if you weren’t paying attention.

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Humanizing Business

Humanize Your Business

How to humanize your business, be more successful at the same time.

That's Humanism  - Madam Curie - British Humanist Association

Many of America’s top business schools are focusing on Humanistic Business Management. (Harvard, Yale, etc). They are doing this for good reason. Humanism works!  It works really well.

The combination of reality based problem solving, compassionate ethics and personal responsibility which are the core principles of the philosophy really do help people not only be better people, but be more effective and constructive in all that they do.

And this is really important in business. Because the possibility for things to not only go wrong, but drastically so increases when instead of an individual acting, you have a corporation or business acting. One person might not be able to destroy a waterway that people rely on for food, water and sustenance, but a large group of people working together for some business cause sure can.

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Is the Humanist Brand Dying?

Is the Humanist Brand Really Dying?

No – we just have a marketing problem.

That's Humanism - British Humanist Association Photo

The Terahertz blog had a very interesting blog post about how the use of the word humanist has decreased even as the use of the word atheist has increased.  (See: http://terahertzatheist.ca/2014/01/24/is-the-humanist-brand-dying/) David Silverman of American Atheists had mentioned the same thing at the Florida Humanist conference back last year.

The point both are making is that if Atheism is well understood by the public that is the word we should be using. Because people know it and are looking for it.  I disagree. I think the problem we have is that Humanists aren’t using the word enough – which is why it isn’t being used or searched for.

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Altruism for the Rich?

Are only the rich allowed to be altruistic?

Why we need to professionalize Humanist Activism

Someone complained to me the other day that I had the audacity to charge for an online bullying course. They said I was making money off of other people’s suffering. It’s apparently ok that I sell a book, and if I wanted to create a business selling t-shirts – that’s ok to. But if you have something that can actually change people’s lives, selling it isn’t ok.  If it’s good and important and available online, it should be free.  And that’s a lovely idea. The problem is that I live in the real world and in the real world, I can’t dedicate my life to helping others if I can’t afford to feed my family and provide shelter and basic necessities.  It would be nice to make money – any money for a change.

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Existentialism and Humanism

Is Existentialism at the Heart of Humanism?

I considered myself an existentialist before I realized I was a Humanist. For me, existentialism is at the heart of my Humanism. It is what makes my Humanism possible. It is only by acknowledging that I exist, as absurd as that reality is, that I can construct a meaningful life for myself.

There is a great article about honest atheism needing to embrace existentialism over at The Week by Damon Linker – see: http://theweek.com/article/index/255508/how-to-be-an-honest-atheist  In this article, he talks about how difficult life is and to pretend that it isn’t difficult is to deny people meaning and purpose.  Life is a struggle. We find meaning when we embrace that struggle. "The individual life," O’Neill believed, "is made significant just by the struggle."

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Micro and Macro Meaning in Life

The meaning of life – micro and macro

How to find meaning and purpose in a life without magic.

This seems to be something a lot of people struggle with. At least, I get asked about it all the time. As soon as someone finds out I’m an atheist I get asked, how do you find meaning in life without “god.”

It always seems like such a strange question to me because meaning is not something I struggle with. But the fact that people ask this question means a lot of people do. So, here is the framework I think most Humanists use to find meaning in life. We create our own meaning.

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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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