Humanism should speak for itself
In our secular society, religion and religiosity are private matters. People are free to practise their religion but it should be done in a discrete if not covert way.
Where people wear their religiosity on their sleeves, or around their necks, or all over their bodies and in your face, then conflict ensues.
Unfortunately, in Australia and around the world, religiosity is far from covert. Whether it is by way of massed prayers in the streets or in Parliaments, it is an open expression and challenge to other religiose of different persuasions. That is how conflict simmers.
Raising the profile of any organisations where there are strong conflicting interests is a challenge not restricted to the religiose. It applies equally to the non-religiose and to the anti-religiose. Humanism is no exception. There is a clear interest in bringing together those who are like minded and informing others of the philosophical virtues of Humanism. Advertising it as a movement risks having it perceived as just another form of religion, not unlike a science fiction fantasy.
I have, from time to time, considered how one might declare oneself as a Humanist. The thought has surfaced that we could wear a discreet lapel badge or tie pin bearing the logo, or develop a secret hand shake but all such ideas are propelled to the same dust bin as it would eventually morph into more overt symbolism.
The best form of promotion is through word-of-mouth, by way of articulate members such as A. C. Grayling in public fora and the excellent writings of B. Smoker and R. Ives and others who contribute so splendidly to the Victorian Humanist and the Australian Humanist.
Let us not be backward in announcing that we are guided by the philosophy of Humanism but let us not promote it in such a way that it becomes to be perceived as a religion. Any promotion should be private, peaceful and civilised. Overt proselytising and displays of tribalism or religiosity becomes provocative, confronting and vulgar.
On second thought, what about placing a laminated copy of the Humanist Manifesto in every top draw of every bedside cabinet in every hotel and motel room in the country?
Roy Schrieke, 9 Sep 2016
Some brainstorming suggestions
- Greater use of social media. HSV is listed on Facebook but, as far as I can see, not on Linked-In.
- Display AH in libraries. The Australian Shareholders Assoc. (trying to ramp up membership) is trying that. Manningham Shire obliged. I tried the Yarra Valley Library group (my group, Nillumbik). They knocked me back – obviously commercially not interested. But they may think differently about Humanism et al.
- Do we, and other secular orgs, such as Rationalists, Sceptics, Atheists, have sufficient exposure to schools?
Margit Alm, 5 Sep 2016