Defining Humanism

Let’s get started by defining Humanism. An excellent start can be found at thefreedictionary.com:

any system or mode of thought or action in which human interests, values, and dignity are taken to be of primary importance, as in moral judgments

Quite a few definitions also include a rejection of religion and/or supernatural beings. However, I am of the opinion that Humanism transcends religion. At the core of many religions is a version of The Golden Rule (a second link here for more religions and some philosophers). With this foundation, we can make the case that using the Ethic of Reciprocity, a solid case that most religions have a core of Humanism.

In my personal experience, Humanism is treating people as you would like to be treated. It means using empathy to see another person’s position. I may not agree with conclusions they made, but I can try to understand where they’re coming from. It doesn’t mean challenging people’s opinions or telling them how to live their lives. Instead, it means living my life to the best of my ability and try to be an example to other people. By striving to always be honest and forthright I feel I can do more for Humanism by leading by example.

I’ve never felt that lecturing others on morals breeds anything other than resentment and a sense of moral smugness. By living what you believe you do far more to convince others of  your cause. Embody what you believe and people will see you take to heart what you espouse and you’re not just paying lip service to your cause.

Additionally, I want to make clear that I do not create an artificial front of morality in the name of Humanism. Rather, I naturally fell into this pattern of behaviors and later in life realized it meshed with what is called Humanism. I will not adjust my life to meet a definition that people have created, rather I found the definition of what I am from how I already live my life.

My moral code is simple: give everyone the benefit of the doubt, remember they have a lifetime of experiences you know little or nothing about, and try to use empathy to understand their position. Be as forthright as you can, be honest and consistent as you can, and understand that you can always agree to disagree.

 

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