Hardly a day goes by when the misfortune, violence, and tragedy that befalls people around the world does not hang over me like a dark cloud. I dutifully read the Star Tribune and listen to NPR and can’t escape the grim news. Of course, there is much good that could be reported, but the fact remains that countless people are suffering across the globe while I enjoy a glass of wine over a satisfying dinner and sip tea in the comfort of my home at the end of the day. I’ve spent a lifetime learning to shake that cloud and live with my own good fortune against the backdrop of so many other people’s misfortune.
When Lyndon Johnson was the Majority Leader of the United States Senate, he had a notorious reputation as a deal maker who would vigorously browbeat balky senators until he got the outcome he wanted. One of his favorite sayings to these senators was ,“Don’t spit in the soup, we all gotta eat.” Essentially, what he meant was that there was plenty of government largesse for everyone as long as no one objected too much to some other senator’s wasteful pork barrel project.
The new, historic 116th U.S. Congress is in session. It is comprised of more women, more women of color, more openly LGBTQ+ members, and a lot more millennials – from just five to twenty-six. Wow! The times they are a-changin,’ to quote the iconic Bob Dylan anthem of the 1960s.
Thanks to everyone who completed the branding survey Humanists of Minnesota undertook last November with the design firm Imagehaus. The Board very much appreciates the participation of our members and friends. HofMN member Amparo Gonzalez won our participation lottery and will receive a $50 gift card.
The average Humanists of Minnesota member may not know that our board members have a job description. Although we are not explicitly required to proselytize, we are required to appropriately represent the organization and its values. Personally, however, I am always looking to proactively get our message out. Taking on this type of responsibility presents a dilemma for me as I am, unfortunately, a card-carrying introvert--with the test results to prove it.
How are you feeling now that the midterm elections are almost over. As I write this at the end of October, I don’t know if I’ll be cheering or grieving the morning after. However, no clairvoyance is needed to predict that the country will be awash in emotional outbursts of one sort or another. For some, it will be a great day, for others not so much.
The “nones.” You’d never know there were so many of us because, as a recently designated demographic cohort, we go by many different names and identities – humanist, atheist, agnostic, the “unaffiliated,” skeptic, freethinker, lapsed (insert former religious identity), “spiritual but not religious,” or nothing at all. Hence, our political leaders don’t pay attention to us. It’s time we change that!
It’s early August and I’m feeling wistful. I just turned another year older and I’m already anticipating the end of summer. While I’m reticent to acknowledge another birthday, I remind myself of the alternative of not chalking up one more year.
Can humanism be defined in a nutshell? I’m not so sure. Most of us are hard pressed to concisely explain humanism to the uninitiated when asked. We don’t have our elevator speeches down cold. And we’re not predisposed to soundbites. That characteristic may be lacking in the DNA of the average humanist. 😊
It is May 2018 and I am still trying to process the political events of November 2016. Similar to other life events people experience, like the sudden loss of a job or the ending of a relationship, the election of Trump left me disoriented, confused, angry.
What if everyone in the world were an atheist? Would our problems be solved? Hardly. Would the world be a better place? I’d like to think so, but the evidence to date is inconclusive. Throughout history awful things have been done in the name of religion as well as positive things. Likewise, awful deeds have been done by the godless as well as noble deeds for the well-being of all.
I find discussions about the “end of work” due to artificial intelligence and automation just a tad overstated and dire. But then, by my sights, it’s mostly men who are sounding the alarm. Perhaps that’s because men have been defining work for far too long.
The year 2017 brought many new developments to Humanists of Minnesota. These efforts took a lot of work on the back end for the Board and diligent member-volunteers, but for the record and the benefit of the entire membership, here’s an overview of what transpired this past year.
Many of you reading this are likely familiar with the late writer and purported philosopher Ayn Rand, even if you have never actually read any of her articles or books. The privileged daughter of a prosperous businessman in St. Petersburg, Russia, her family lost it all in the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917.
A key principle of humanism is rejection of the belief that a supernatural force or being is responsible for what happens on Earth (or anywhere in the universe for that matter). When it comes to politics, however, I’m not so sure anymore.
Recently I traveled abroad for the first time in my life. My trip to Germany and Amsterdam with my husband as companion was wonderful! I can now better understand why so many are smitten by the lure of travel.
Humanism as a worldview serves as that kind of moral compass. It doesn’t offer perfection through its method or in its results. As a life stance, it doesn’t turn its adherents into saints. But it functions as a very useful and time-tested guide—to lead us toward a better life for all.
The concept of “justice” itself seems elusive – especially in a police shooting of an innocent man. So many people are unsatisfied by the outcome of the Yanez trial because given the harm done to Philando Castile and his family, justice seems not to have been fairly or proportionally rendered.
The “wall of separation” between church and state grew out of the first amendment – as most any student of American history knows. But like so many other constitutional issues, the anti-establishment clause remains open to interpretation even today.
The Supreme Court confirmation process for Neil Gorsuch is currently underway. As an engaged citizen, I have listened with great interest to much of the Senate hearings. As a former civics teacher, I shudder to think what little understanding of judicial philosophy, the role of the Supreme Court and our history as a nation is brought to bear on these hearings.