Humanism is about tolerance, kindness, knowledge and friendship, and although Humanistically Speaking is for Humanists, it is there for everyone to read, enjoy, and contribute, regardless of faith or belief.
This month, we have our regular Poet's Corner, Book Review, Ethical Encounters and a fascinating profile of Harold Blackham, who did so much to build international humanism in the mid-20thcentury. But our main theme is the future of humanism, and where better to start than a review of its history by David Warden. In his review, David explores several routes that, since the eighteenth century Enlightenment, led towards modern humanism. His report –in which he refers to a humanist ‘religion’ – may be controversial to some readers, so do tell us what you think. It is a fascinating report that traces humanism through the early ethical societies into the modern humanism that we all recognise today.
John Coss discusses Jaap van Praag’s concept, suggested half a century ago, of ‘The Little Fight and the Great Fight’ that confronted humanism then, and still does. Anthony Lewis reflects on what humanism is for, and Maggie Hall challenges us with questions about what we mean by humanism.
Aaron Darkwood details what he calls the family of humanist organisations that all play their independent, but largely cooperative, parts, whilst Paul Ewans ponders Humanists UK – its objectives, its challenges, its successes, its shortcomings, and its work in progress.
Penny Morgan also makes a welcome return to the editorial fold with her thoughtful story about the dangers of human conformity. She asks how destructive our willingness to obey authority can be and invites us humanists to consider how non-conformist we think we are. We like to see ourselves as freethinkers, but how far are we really prepared to go to defy, or obey, authority? The answers may be challenging.
Finally, Mike Flood discusses community in humanism, which is an issue that I care very much about. I have long been an advocate of strengthening and developing local humanist groups, because that is the only effective way that I can think of, of building humanist communities. Whether Humanists UK pay attention to this issue or not, the long-term success of organised humanism depends on local humanist communities, and in the long term we ignore that at our peril.
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