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Editor's welcome

David Warden


Welcome to the February edition of Humanistically Speaking. My first duty and pleasure this month is to pay tribute to David Brittain who has stepped down as Executive Editor for family health reasons. The idea to launch a new humanist magazine, in 2020, was David's and he remains totally committed to the project. He is the inspiration behind this magazine and we send him our warmest good wishes. He will continue to play an important part, as time and circumstances permit. I also want to say a special welcome to our new writer Karl who brings an Indian humanist perspective to the magazine. His article on the caste system is very illuminating.

Our theme this month is human rights. Human rights are a core element in humanist thinking, stemming from the Enlightenment era and inspiring the French and American Revolutions with clarion calls to liberty, equality, and the pursuit of happiness. But the peculiar race of hominins we call homo sapiens seems perennially at risk of falling into new abysses of madness and totalitarianism. A century ago, in 1923, Adolf Hitler's first attempt at a coup d'état in Munich failed, but ten years later he became Chancellor and plunged the world into war and the horrors of the Holocaust. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 1948, was one of the major post-war responses to that calamity. It remains a precious and precarious achievement.

Our writers and contributors this month have examined human rights from numerous different angles as we try to grasp the meaning and significance of this slightly strange concept. What are human rights, where do they come from, do they even exist, and what are their prospects for the future? I was quite depressed by the catalogue of human rights abuses put together by our writers but we should never lose sight of the fact that we have, at least in some parts of the world, come a long way in terms of women's liberation, gay liberation, and the realisation that we all belong to one race, the human race. But there is much work to be done, not only to make progress but also to hold on to the gains made so far.

I hope that you will enjoy our offerings this month and that we will succeed in deepening and broadening your knowledge of our chosen topic. As always, we look forward to hearing from you if you have an opinion or comment to share.

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