Slavery was an evil institution created by humans. Reformers, believing that this evil could not be abolished outright, proposed making it less cruel and more humane. The great Russian novelist Leo Tolstoy countered by arguing that if slavery were humanized, it would never be abolished. But though it took a long time, it was ultimately seen as an irredeemable evil and was ended. What about war? Why couldn’t it follow this path as well? That has proven to be more difficult. Some reformers in Tolstoy’s time proposed making war less brutal, believing that would eventually lead to its end. Tolstoy again argued against it, fearing that making war more humane would just make it more tolerable.
Category: Humanist Voices
From George: You may have noticed familiar names in the StarTribune letters to the editor this year. That is no accident – a volunteer team of letter writers has been busy representing secular viewpoints on important issues. This is the story of our team. Early in 2021, I had to do a leadership project in the Freethought Toastmasters Club. It required putting together a team and leading it to goals that I had to define. I decided to put together a team to write letters to the editor of the StarTribune on secularist issues.
America is becoming more diverse. That’s obvious. But did you know that for the past decade, demographers have been projecting that by 2045 the majority of the U.S. population will be non-White? And now, those projections are becoming a reality. Data from the 2020 census indicate that almost 53 percent of the U.S. population under 18 identifies as non-White. While Minnesota is less diverse than the nation as a whole, in the metro region especially but also across the state, the non-White youth population is growing significantly.
Humanist voices are currently addressing many major issues. I propose we add one more. Let’s once again turn our attention to war. I suggest discussing the following questions: For what purposes should we go to war? Should we continue our American empire and the military power and wars required to maintain it? Should we continue to increase our military budget so we can enlarge and modernize our military establishment to deter Russia and China and be capable of engaging in a war with either of them? In short, is war still an acceptable means to protect or advance our interests?
A body of legal scholarship that originated in the mid 1970s, Critical Race Theory (CRT), became notorious in 2020 when conservative activist Christopher Rufo sounded the alarm to Fox News (which alerted Donald Trump) about what he called a pernicious anti-American outgrowth of the racial-justice movement. Conservative state legislatures quickly passed laws banning the teaching of CRT in public schools.
By Cole Glenna
I have a strong passion for science and critical thinking in every domain of discipline. I also have a strong passion for increasing the quality of life on earth and I am extremely interested in ethics and making decisions with the best intention. I was drawn to HumanistsMN because I see this organization adopted a portion of the highway 35W. I drive by the sign to and from work every day commuting to the Medtronic Mounds View campus.
By Jerry Smith
In an article published in this newsletter in October 2019, I argued that HumanistsMN’s mission should be to “promote widespread human flourishing.” At its November 2020 meeting, HMN’s Board of Directors (of which I am a member) adopted the following statement of the organization’s mission: “HumanistsMN is a secular community that promotes ethical living, widespread human flourishing, and a healthy planet through its commitment to science, reason, compassion and creativity.”
By George Kane and Mary McLeod
The Republican resistance to “blue state bailouts” during recent Congressional debates over a coronavirus aid package prompts a question: Which states are most dependent on the federal government, and receive more in payouts than they contribute to the nation in federal taxes? As a corollary, which states contribute more to the national budget than they receive? And do the answers correlate to the dominant political party in the states?
By Paul Heffron
The new federal CARES Act, designed to offset hardships because of the COVID-19 crisis, has highlighted again the controversy over government support of religion. CARES provides loans to cover the payrolls of businesses and nonprofits that have been harmed economically by the virus-related shutdowns. They are forgiven if the recipients keep their workers on staff.
By Ross Meisner
I am a secular humanist, an atheist, and a proud member of HumanistsMN. And I am running for the Minnesota State Senate in the Fridley/Columbia Heights area. It’s a strange experience to run for public office: part issues advocacy, part popularity contest, part punching bag, and part community therapist. The motivation to run came after years of general activism and community support, when my professional and personal environment allowed me to embrace the mantra to be part of the solution. What most energizes me is the possibility of bringing clear-headed and unflinching secular values to the MN legislature.
By Ellie Haylund
It’s an odd juxtaposition. Imagine the city center of Amsterdam, The Netherlands, March 2019. Tourists from absolutely everywhere in the world bobbing and weaving across the historic hub. On our street, just a few blocks from the notorious, but remarkably commercial, Red Light District, things are tamer but buzzing. Canal tour boats pass periodically, bikers whiz by, and passersby are mostly locals.
One year later: March 2020. A city nearly overrun with tourists year-round has been silenced.
By David Perry
The Boy Scouts of America (BSA) has filed for bankruptcy. This comes in the wake of 275 sexual abuse lawsuits, with as many as 1,400 more to come. The organization has already paid more than $150 million in settlements and legal costs and it seems to be only the beginning. Ninety percent of the abuse took place more than 30 years ago. Since 2002, 17 states have created laws that allow victims to file charges beyond the normal statute of limitations, permitting these cases to move forward. Sexual abuse is not something new to the BSA, even if public knowledge of it is.
By Erica Klein
Let me start in the traditional Festivus fashion: I HAVE A LOT OF PROBLEMS WITH YOU PEOPLE! The particular problem I want to talk about today is Santa Claus. Specifically, what I call Santa Truthism, which means telling the Santa story like a true story. Santa Truthism softens up kids’ brains so those brains are susceptible to weird stuff. What is weird stuff? Weird stuff means astrology, Bigfoot, biorhythms, chemtrails, dianetics, energy healing, foot reflexology, homeopathy, Holocaust denial (I’m only up to the letter H!), and a million other make-believe things that too many people believe are true.
By Jerry Smith
The meanings of the words “humanism” and “humanist” have evolved considerably from the time of the Renaissance. Then humanists were people, like Erasmus of Rotterdam, who discovered, read, and often translated writings of classical Greece and Rome, secular works that lay outside the dominant Christian worldview.
Much more recently, humanism has been defined by three “Humanist Manifestos,” each emphasizing secularism, naturalism, and humanitarianism.
By Justin Bovee
Life’s fulfillment emerges from individual participation in the service of humane ideals. ~ Humanist Manifesto III
Humanism. A life lived in the service of others, lacking dogma, focusing on compassion and a better world for all humans based on the best evidence and the eternal search for truth. In contrast, had you asked me 10 years ago where my purpose for living came from, I would have opened with the Westminster Shorter Catechism: Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever.