We make decisions in life based on a combination of emotional and logical decision processes. Colloquially we call this using our head or heart. Some decisions are better made using our heads while others are best done using our hearts. In the US we make decisions on our life partners using our hearts as the primary motivation for the person we pick to live our life with. However, when we pick our healthcare plan we (hopefully) use our minds instead of our hearts. After all, how well would it work if we picked our healthcare plan based on which brochure looked more inviting?
In other cases, though, you can use either decision making process. Historically, we have seen arranged marriages in European nobility. These decisions were not made based on love but rather for political alliance and both logical and emotional decisions have worked out with stable marriages. Today, we still use both heart and head for big decisions – for example, when picking a house we don’t just find one that looks nice, we see if it is in the right school zone, if it has enough space, and if the neighborhood is safe.But we won’t pick just any house that meets the logical criteria. We also want a house that fits our aesthetic. We may not like brick walls on a house or decide what we really want is a cob house.
Humanism is a lifestyle that encompasses both your head and your heart. You know rationally what is the right thing to do and it feels great to help out another person. A couple of years ago I was checking in at a hotel in Nashville when a couple of Hispanic men brought in a woman who was obviously homeless. I found out later that these men found out after checking in that they needed to head back home immediately. They had already checked into their room and were settling down for the night. They had seen the woman outside and, rather than try to get a refund on their room, they brought her in and gave her a bed for the night.
My conclusions about atheism and agnosticism are purely logical decisions. To me, observing the natural world and determining how it works is all about scientific observation and experimentation. There is no emotional component to how the world physically operates. However, in my dealings with people, I have picked Humanism as my ethical framework. With empathy and understanding as my tools, I do my best to help the people around me. I help not because someone or some book tells me to, but rather because I know that I can make someone’s life better.
If we all agree to help someone else we can do far more through little acts of kindness to make this world a better place for everyone. As you go through your day, find someone who may need a hand up. Even just a kind word or simple gesture can make all the difference to someone who you may not know is having a bad day.