Though the definition of humanism can differ slightly from person to person and group to group generally humanism is understood as a philosophy or life stance that advocates for human beings to accept our moral responsibility to live ethical and morally responsible lives. It is also distinct for not requiring people to believe in deities. It is a moral tradition that is inclusive and can be adopted by anyone who understands the importance of not only human life but also our ability as human beings to live compassionately, ethically, and without the need for dogma or religious belief. Humanism attaches importance to human issues, not the issues that people and societies associate with religious matters or matters that come from theology. Many humanists have political and moral positions that are progressive by the standards of the society of the United States, such as believing that healthcare is a human right and that both access to and quality of healthcare are not things that should be influenced by someone’s economic status or their employment status.
Anyone can be a humanist! That’s one of the great things about humanism. Though humanists are often conceptualized by the American public as non-theists, especially atheists and agnostics (though theistic agonstics exist), humanists can definitely be theists. Humanism is an inclusive position and even people who haven’t explicitly claimed to be humanists can and do say things that sure sound a whole lot like humanism. Which explains the popularity of the #SoundsLikeHumanism hashtag.
Personally as someone who studies peace and conflict studies I feel as though being a humanist and openly identifying myself publicly as a humanist enables me to be a member of a community that cares deeply about social issues, understands on some level their pliability and knows that there are healthy, rational, and replicable responses to social crises and to both manmade and natural disasters, emergencies, and social interactions. I am a humanist because I believe in the important claims of humanism: that humans are capable of great good independent of religious beliefs, that human needs should supersede religious traditions and beliefs, and that the problems and challenges that humanity faces can be solved without the supernatural and that our approaches to these problems should come from a place of understanding and focus on human needs rather than tradition and religion.
I believe there is much work that needs to be done that can be done humanistically. One of the things I want more people to realize is that humanism is inclusive and can include and should include theists. I want to work to reach out to theistic humanists and help them build stronger communities of humanists who want to engage in justice, in building healthy communities, and in creating a better society in their own spaces, that is safe and able to handle both theistic and non-theistic humanists. I want to work to build a brand of dynamic, inclusive, and thoughtful humanistic commentary and community-building. I believe this can be done and this is why I am working to write essays that argue for thoughtful and inclusive humanism that is more than happy to teach people who might be or could become humanists, and works towards including and being conscious of theistic humanists who are out and about doing the work I want to do.
In future essays on humanism I’ll work to include steps to help people explain and provide examples of humanism, and I’ll work on steps to help people find humanistic spaces in their communities. I want to become a resource for budding humanists and for people who want to organize and build spaces and communities.