How Humanism Can Help Heal a Divided World

As we reflect on the many tragic events in recent years, nationally and globally, so many of which were rooted in the ignorance required by racism, intolerance and hate, we have a valuable opportunity to try to better understand how these kinds of angry, fear-based views develop and why they must be challenged before they can be healed. The clues are found in any cultural conditioning that deliberately divides us while discouraging basic human rights, free thought, and critical inquiry.

We have experienced enough violence, strife, and misery through the ages to see what we get by accepting cultural divisions based on a refusal to broaden our understanding of the world. Is it not time for a serious human thought renaissance? This can start immediately, and must, if we agree that all individuals have the right to live free, safe and rewarding lives in which we have the best possible chance to develop our unique, respective potential, regardless of race, class, gender, politics, religion, or any other artificial category of separation we have created as a social construct falsely accepted as reality.

We clearly need a living, guiding, progressive philosophy that can connect us, specifically, as Gloria Steinem has long argued for, one that links us rather than ranking us, as we see in the hierarchical structure of patriarchy, a model that places an invisible god on top, then men, followed by women, animals, and the environment, last and least, with power and rights accorded to each by rank.

Humanism offers just such a living, guiding, "linking" philosophy, and as such, can help us evolve beyond the narrow, limiting, damaging “us vs. them” perspectives on the world that form the root of virtually all conflict. Indeed, humanist ideals may even hold the key to our collectively survival, as it is only by working together productively toward shared goals and objectives that we can ensure a healthy and sustainable future for all humans sharing this fragile planet, and, indeed, Earth itself.

Humanism is a democratic and ethical life stance that affirms that we all have the right, as well as the responsibility, to shape and give meaning to our own lives, as opposed to being subjugated by fictional, supernatural authority figures or Celestial Dictators, who must be accepted “on faith,” without a shred of verifiable evidence for their existence. The very notion runs directly counter to humanism, which recognizes that reality is an ever evolving state of affairs based on evidence and the human experience rather than superstition, fallacies, or unproven mythology.

Along with being fair, rational, and reason-based, the humanist view is, again, utterly democratic, celebrating of diversity, and based on the notion of liberty and justice for all, where men and women are free agents responsible for their own destinies. If you too envision a healthier, happier and more socially just world and would like to engage in constructive solutions, consider learning more about the philosophy of humanism, which arguably offers the most useful set of tools we primates currently have at our disposal to make the best decisions possible in which the needs of all humans are considered equally in the context of our shared world.

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