How can we go about raising the profile of Humanism?  A first step is to be clear about what we mean by Humanism, so we can present it in a convincing and readily understood way. (See reading list below.)

As a start, I suggest most Humanists would agree that our world-view consists of a cluster of core ideas including:

  • Humans are naturally evolved.
  • Reliable knowledge comes from inquiry and reasoned thinking.
  • Leading an ethical life is essential to individual and community well-being.
  • Personal autonomy must be combined with social responsibility.
  • Democracy and human rights are central to good governance.
  • The arts enhance life through their transformative powers.

These interlinked ideas provide a framework for leading an ethical and responsible life.  And it is worth remembering that Humanism is one of the most developed secular alternatives to religion.  Sadly, it is not always the word that springs to people’s minds when they identify as non-religious, hence our need raise the profile of Humanism.

In a few words Humanism can be described as ‘an open-ended approach to living that draws together many of the best ideas humans have had for leading a good life’ – good in both an ethical as well as enjoyment sense.

Each day Humanists try to do their best to be kind, considerate and compassionate towards fellow humans and other living creatures.  They do this not for heavenly rewards, but rather because it is the right thing to do.  The HSV shows this by expressing support for humane policies and actions, and our opposition to policies that that are unjust and against human rights, such as Australia’s treatment of refugees, Indigenous and LGBTI people.

As an organised voice for a reasoned, compassionate and ethical way of living HSV has an important role in making Humanism better known.  If, as is highly likely, this year’s census records ‘no religion’ as the largest single category, this puts increased demand on organised Humanism to present its life affirming world-view in public forums; in particular to educational institutions, governments and the media.

Of pressing urgency is the fact that Humanism has been included in a new Victoria school curriculum on world-views.  Teachers and students therefore need to be have access to information about Humanism and Humanists.

Your committee hopes that more HSV members might be willing to contribute to getting Humanism better known.  One relatively simple way you can do this is by spreading the Humanist world-view to others when an opportunity arises.  We can supply extra copies of either the VH or AH for handing around along with our introductory leaflet.  And we can provide speakers if groups are interested in hearing about Humanism.

… Please maintain your connection with the Humanist move­ment through membership of the HSV.  And if you know of anyone who could be interested in joining us, please let us know their contact details.  Even if they don’t want to become a member they may be interested in receiving regular material via E-mail.

Suggested reading

a) The single page, Amsterdam Declaration 2002. Available on request from HSV or Google IHEU.

b) Websites, e.g. HSV, IHEU

b) Introductory books: Humanism for inquiring minds by Barbara Smoker, and Humanism: an introduction by Jim Herrick. Both in HSV library.

c) Books such as, On Humanism by Richard Norman, What is Good? The Search for the Best Way to Live, and The God Argument: The Case against Religion and for Humanism, both by A. C. Grayling.

Rosslyn Ives

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