President's Welcome 2019

Theinternational humanist movement carries a minimum statement of core principles: “Humanism is a democratic and ethical life stance that affirms that human beings have the right and responsibility to give meaning and shape to their own lives. Humanism stands for the building of a more humane society through an ethics based on human and other natural values in a spirit of reason and free inquiry through human capabilities. Humanism is not theistic, and it does not accept supernatural views of reality.”

Beyond these core values, modern individual humanists have varying concerns. Some prioritise science, reason and confronting destructive superstitions while others pursue human rights and humanitarianism. Yet the heart of humanism is a living ethos of values and practices, deepening our humanity, expanding our potential, and giving our lives meaning.

Despite or even within a religious culture, humanism was always there in ancient Greco-Roman, Egyptian, Mesopotamian, Chinese, Indian and even some Judeo-Christian ideas. Ancestral and indigenous hunter-gatherers have also approached humanism when they attune their minds to their environment, their bodies, their companions and their human needs.

Humanism arises whenever humans make humanity central in their values, but the modern movement is rooted in the new consciousness of the Renaissance, which saw intelligence and compassion arise as values to displace medieval piety and obedience. Human art and science flourished again. Then a brief new dark age of religious warfare was followed by the humanistic Enlightenment, which gave us rights, liberty, equality, science, progress, and accountable government.

As humanists, humanity describes both our limits and our potential. We accept there are no magical solutions or supernatural beings coming to help us. But we have a sense of optimism in the power of human curiosity and ingenuity under the spirit of goodwill. All judgments must be based in honest examination of shared human experience. Our icon is the free individual, accountable to society, dependent on the natural world, but also responsible for it. We strive to be tough-minded but warm-hearted people, in a democratic, secular society. While reliant on empirical observation and rational analysis, we also embrace the human imagination and the transforming power of art. We pursue lives of health and joy.

We respect diversity and value discussion. Instead of worship or prayer, we seek a deeper prosperity, and a higher sensitivity, in simple celebration of our common humanity. We embrace the tragedy and comedy of life, accepting mortality and uncertainty.

If you think you might be a humanist, consider joining our community and sharing in our pursuit of wisdom, justice, and dignity in a world besieged by militant ignorance, vacuous consumerism, recalcitrant sexism & racism, toxic authoritarianism, spurious spiritualities, and divisive identities.

Becoming a member of the Humanist Society of NSW makes you part of a local, national and global movement. Locally we share learning and ideas, and enjoy like-minded companions and mutual support. Nationally, through the Council of Australian Humanist Societies we campaign for equity, choice, and dignity, and fight persecution and injustice. Globally, through the International Humanist & Ethical Union we work for human rights, and the rational settlement of differences. Why not join us today.

Murray Love

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