Secular Wall: Good Fences Make Good Neighbours

In his 1914 poem Mending Wall, Robert Frost made significant use of the old proverb, good fences make good neighbors. In the poem, a narrator explains that “something there is that doesn’t love a wall” and this something tears down a sturdy stone wall that separates the narrator’s property from the neighbor’s. So each year, the narrator and the neighbor meet on an appointed day to “walk the line and set the line between us one again”, the neighbor often reciting the ancient wisdom. Good fences make good neighbors. Meanwhile, the narrator wants to suggest the mischievous force that is tearing down the wall is “elves” but would prefer for the neighbor to say so.

Dry Stone Walling - Good Day Out

It’s a lovely poem which aptly reminds the reader how to keep one’s metaphorical apple’s from eating-up someone else’s metaphorical pine cones .

In Canada, there is a new Facebook chat group named Secular Wall with an interest to walk the line and mend the wall. The group states that it wishes to “connect all Canadians opposed to the discriminatory and wasteful public funding of religious schools (especially in Alberta, Saskatchewan and Ontario) plus healthcare institutions. Secular Wall members support every citizen’s undisputed RIGHT to worship however they please … with the corresponding RESPONSIBILITY to fully fund their own beliefs.

The organizers of Secular Wall seem to have staked-out familiar, but necessary, territory. Just as there are many individuals who would prefer not to have all their pine cones eaten-up by the neighbor’s apples – there are also plenty of apple-growers who would like to keep their apples from tasting of pine. A bit of annual wall mending is indeed a good thing.

After all, the really does seem to be a great deal of elf-activity from year to year and the walls won’t mend themselves.

The group has a stated zero tolerance for hate speech or profanity, which suggests that dialogue may maintain a level of dignity and respect despite a topic likely to bring out deep-seated values, perspectives and opinions.

If you have an interest in the integrity of your own domain, you may want to join the conversation.


Citations, References And Other Reading

  1. Featured Photo Courtesy ofhttps://www.facebook.com/groups/secularwall/
  2. https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/44266/mending-wall

The views, opinions and analyses expressed in the articles on Humanist Freedoms are those of the contributor(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of the publishers.

Heavy Metal Humanism: Personal Courage

On January 29, 2021 German heavy metal band Accept released their sixteenth studio album, Too Mean to Die. Here at http://www.humanistfreedoms.com, we don’t always connect with the latest releases in the heavy metal music scene, so we hope to be forgiven by the band for overlooking the release.

One song on Too Mean to Die has caught our ear. “No One’s Master”. We’ve provided a link to a lyric video for other humanist fans of heavy metal to connect with. Unlike many of Accept’s songs, which have carried credit to “Deaffy” all the way back to the 1980’s (actually Gaby Hoffman, the band’s manager and also Accept guitarist Wolf Hoffman’s spouse), “No One’s Master” is credited to band members Martin Motnik, Wolf Hoffmann and Mark Tornillo.

Still, it is absolutely essential when considering Accept, to identify Deaffy, who wrote the lyrics for the band’s most famous song “Ball’s to the Wall” (circa 1983). Who could forget a song that begins with the line, “Too many slaves in this world die by torture and pain”, and gets raunchier, bloodier and more rebellious from there?

Back in 1983, Deaffy also wrote the lyrics for “Fight it Back”, excerpted here as backdrop to the Accept song we’re actually listening to today “Always been the prophets who make the world evolve. Always been the average breaking it down. Majority, the unknown giving us the rules. It’s more than luck to get the standard. You’ll never find me like you hope that I am. You’ll never treat me like you think you can. Be always independent, surrendering no way. I won’t deal with crimes of society. Find myself in crisis, get near to collapse. Am I forced to live that boring life? God, I hate the average. Go and nuke it out. Go, piss the accepted, screw them all! Now, if you hate it, you gonna fight it back. Just try to change it. Fight it. Fight it back.”

Agree with the sentiments or not, Gaby Hoffman’s lyrics set out some clear perspectives on the individual’s role within their society. Now, let’s push forward to more recent days.

It appears that Tornillo, the band’s vocalist has written the lyrics for “No One’s Master”. Some time ago (actually 2012) Tornillo said that he enjoyed the opportunity to write socio-political lyrics. With “No One’s Master” Tornillo seems to be refining sentiments that Deaffy/Accept had established almost forty years earlier.

The “No One’s Master” lyrics take aim at the influence of media on people collectively while setting a rebelliously individualistic and humanistic ethic that is firmly set in the present.

Here is a “lyric video” version of the song, which is rather catchy in a rock-anthem kind of way:

For those who may not be enthusiastic fans of the genre, presented here is an abridged version of the lyrics:

The media’s controlling the masses
Stoking our anger and fear
Further dividing the classes
Serving the richest careers
Their mantra is lies and deception
When honesty’s all that I crave
I decline and there’ll be no exceptions
I am no one’s master
No one’s slave
Living in fear ain’t worth living
Wasting your life is the crime
The reaper will be unforgiving
Wake up, while you’re still in your prime
The guide of my life is my conscience
My way is the path that I pave
I treat, how I want to be treated
I am no one’s master
No one’s slave
I won’t rule; I won’t bow
I won’t sink my eyes to the ground
I won’t steal; I won’t kneel
I won’t bend my knee to the crowned
I pledge an oath to myself and to life
I’m not afraid of the sword or the knife
The guide of my life is my conscience
My way is the path that I pave
Equality’s all that I’m after
I am no one’s master
No one’s slave
No one’s master
I am no one’s
No one’s slave

The song and the genre are a terrific reminder that living a humanist ethic may occasionally require a bit of rebellion, a bit of anger and a lot of personal courage.


Citations, References And Other Reading

  1. Featured Photo Courtesy ofhttp://www.metalrockmusicpodcast.com/accept-recorded-part-of-too-mean-to-die-with-remote-producer/
  2. https://www.acceptworldwide.com/accept-discography/too-mean-to-die/
  3. https://www.acceptworldwide.com/
  4. https://www.theaquarian.com/2012/04/13/interview-with-mark-tornillo-from-accept-living-the-metal-scream-dream/
  5. http://www.darklyrics.com/lyrics/accept/ballstothewall.html#3

BC Humanists’ World Humanist Day EVENT: George Jacob Holyoake

Visit the Event Page

June 22, 2021 at 5pm – 6pm (Pacific Daylight Time)


Secularism, the world’s most widely applied model for the separation of church and state, has freed peoples and their governments from control by religious authority. At a time when it is being challenged by evangelical Christianity and fundamentalist Islam, Inventing Secularism, the first modern biography of secularism’s founder, George Jacob Holyoake, is scheduled for the Spring 2021 list of McFarland & Co.

Ray Argyle, Canadian biographer of French president Charles de Gaulle and American ragtime composer Scott Joplin, writes that George Holyoake “changed the life experience of millions around the world by founding secularism on the idea that the duties of a life lived on earth should rank above preparation for an imagined life after death.”

Jailed for atheism and disowned by his family, Holyoake came out of an English prison at the age of 25 determined to bring an end to religion’s control over daily life. He became a radical editor and in 1851 invented the word secularism to represent a system of government free of religious domination. Inventing Secularism reveals details of Holyoake’s conflict-filled life in which he campaigned for public education, freedom of the press, women’s rights, universal suffrage, and the cooperative movement. He was hailed on his death in 1906 for having won “the freedoms we take for granted today.”

More than 160 secular and humanist organizations around the world today advocate principles set out by George Holyoake in his newspaper The Reasoner and in hundreds of lectures as well as books and pamphlets.

Argyle’s Inventing Secularism warns that a rise in religious extremism and populist authoritarianism has put secularism under siege in countries ranging from the United States to such once staunchly secular nations as Hungary, Poland, Turkey and India. He writes that Holyoake “looked beyond his own time, confident of a future of moral as well as material good, offering an infinite diversity of intellect with equality among humanity.” 

McFarland & Company, Inc., Publishers, is located in Jefferson, North Carolina, and is one of the leading publishers of academic and scholarly nonfiction in the United States, offering about 6000 titles in print.

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The British Columbia Humanist Association has been providing a community and voice for Humanists, atheists, agnostics, and the non-religious of Metro Vancouver and British Columbia since 1982. We support the growth of Humanist communities across BC, provide Humanist ceremonies, and campaign for progressive and secular values.

We are a registered charitable organization. Our mission is:

  • to promote the ideas and philosophy of secular humanism by all available means of education and communication;
  • to serve the educational needs of its members and others of humanistic, scientific and naturalistic outlook, in a democratic, non-dogmatic manner free from authoritarian doctrine;
  • to provide opportunities for fellowship, study and service at all levels of humanistic endeavour, and to advance the values and welfare of humanity in dedication to the continuing enhancement of human life through human effort and understanding;
  • to offer and provide meaningful ceremonies to members and non-members at significant times such as marriage and death; and
  • to elaborate and to express publicly Humanist positions on issues of concern to people, including values, morality and ethics.

Sources, Citations and References

Featured Photo Courtesy of https://rayargyle.com/a-radical-life/



The views, opinions and analyses expressed in the articles on Humanist Freedoms are those of the contributor(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of the publishers.

Lithuanian Artists to Present 2nd Humanist Photography Exhibition in June

Lithuanian artists Artūras Morozovas and Tadas Kazakevičius will display their latest works on humanist photography next month at the Annexe22 in Esch-sur-Alzette.

The latest works by the photographers behind the “Horizons of Luxembourg” exhibition and competition include photographs taken in in Lithuanian villages. Organised by the Lithuanian Society in Luxembourg, this second exhibition, “After the Mass”, forms part of the Esch2022 – European Capital of Culture programme.

The exhibition will run from 19 to 26 June 2021, from 13:00 to 18:00 daily.

The artists will be giving free guided tours on humanist photography, in English, on 19 and 20 June 2021 at 13:00 and 15:00. Registration is obligatory via Eventbrite or email: litartlux@gmail.com; those wishing to attend should indicate the date, time and number of attendees when registering.

Photojournalist and war photographer Artūras Morozovas is the recipient of the 2016 Award of the Lithuanian Artists’ Association. He is one of the ambassadors of Kaunas 2022 – European Capital of Culture. Likewise, photographer Tadas Kazakevičius won third prize in the 2020 World Press Photo Competition in the Portraits and Stories categories.

Most Senior Appointment YET For A humanist Pastoral Carer at an NHS Trust

Lindsay van Dijk has been appointed to head up the chaplaincy and pastoral care team at Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, which provides person-centred pastoral and spiritual care. As a head of service role, this is the most senior role a humanist pastoral carer has ever held in the NHS. She is also the youngest person to have held such a position. Humanists UK has congratulated Ms van Dijk. It hopes her appointment will encourage other trusts to embrace more inclusive and diverse pastoral care teams.

Research shows that only 4% of hospital visits by religious chaplains are to non-religious patients. This suggests that non-religious people’s pastoral needs are not met when an NHS trust only has religious chaplains. People in need of support should be able to choose to speak to someone who shares their worldview. Until recently, only religious chaplains provided this kind of service. But recently some NHS trusts have started to introduce non-religious pastoral carers.

Previously, Ms Van Dijk was Lead Chaplain at Buckinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust. She is also the chair of the Non-Religious Pastoral Support Network (NRPSN), which is part of Humanists UK. She holds a BA and MA in humanist pastoral care from the University of Humanistic Studies in the Netherlands. She is currently studying for a PhD in humanist pastoral care. She worked at the Humanist Community at Harvard as a humanist pastoral carer. She held posts in a hospice and nursing home for elderly patients with advanced Alzheimer’s disease. She has also worked as a humanist pastoral carer at a UK secondary school. She is a member of the British Association for Counselling & Psychotherapy (BACP) and accredited by the UK Board of Healthcare Chaplaincy (UKBHC).

Welcoming the appointment, Humanists UK’s Head of Humanist Care Clare Elcombe Webber commented,

‘I am delighted that Lindsay has been appointed to such a senior role within an NHS Trust. A few years ago, such opportunities were not open to humanists. Non-religious people were not able to get the like-minded support that they needed. It is a mark of how far we have come that a humanist is a Head of Chaplaincy and Pastoral Care. We hope this appointment will be a catalyst not only for other trusts to embrace inclusion and diversity, but other public institutions such as the prison service and armed forces to do the same.’

On her appointment, Lindsay van Dijk commented,

‘It is a great honour to be appointed to this position. The heart of my role is to ensure that patients get the person-centred care that they need and is right for them.’

NHS England is currently reviewing its Chaplaincy Guidelines, which set out best practice across pastoral, spiritual, and religious care. Humanists UK is currently working with other religion and belief groups to make sure that the new guidelines address issues of equality and inclusion as standard practice. This includes the need for non-religious pastoral care.

Notes:

For further comment or information, please contact Humanists UK Director of Public Affairs and Policy Richy Thompson at press@humanists.uk or phone 020 7324 3072 or 07534 248 596.

Ms van Dijk has made an image available for use by media. Photo credit Edward Thompson. Twitter @_edthompson, Instagram @mredthompson.

Read more about Humanist Care.

Read more about the work of the Non-Religious Pastoral Support Network.

Humanists UK is the national charity working on behalf of non-religious people. Powered by 100,000 members and supporters, we advance free thinking and promote humanism to create a tolerant society where rational thinking and kindness prevail. We provide ceremonies, pastoral care, education, and support services benefitting over a million people every year and our campaigns advance humanist thinking on ethical issues, human rights, and equal treatment for all.

In 2021, Humanists UK is celebrating its 125th anniversary with a renewed focus on its history. The new website Humanist Heritage is a rich new web resource that uncovers the untold story of humanism in the UK – a story of people, groups, objects, places, movements, publications, and ideas.


Citations, References And Other Reading

  1. Featured Photo Courtesy ofEdward Thompson. Twitter @_edthompson, Instagram @mredthompson.
  2. https://humanism.org.uk/2021/06/09/most-senior-appointment-yet-for-a-humanist-pastoral-carer-at-an-nhs-trust/

The views, opinions and analyses expressed in the articles on Humanist Freedoms are those of the contributor(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of the publishers.

Humanists UK calls for broad curriculum in schools to protect freedom of thought

Humanists UK has called upon all states to make sure the school curriculum is critical, objective, and pluralistic, particularly in its approach to religions and humanism. This is necessary to safeguard the right to freedom of thought. Humanists UK made this call in response to a consultation issued by Dr Ahmed Shaheed, the UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief.

International human rights law includes the right to ‘freedom of thought, conscience, religion, or belief’. But, freedom of thought has been little considered in its own right.

Humanists UK said freedom of thought encompasses much more than our private internal experiences. It is a skill set. The skill of being able to seek out, receive, comprehend, and evaluate information. Like any skill, it needs to be taught and developed.

States have a duty to create a culture in which freedom of thought and free enquiry can flourish. In practice, this means having laws that protect people from propaganda and misinformation. It also means schools must teach critical thinking skills. These skills include an understanding of the scientific method. It also means teaching in detail about different religions and humanism, but in a critical, objective, and pluralistic way. All citizens must have access to a wide variety of educational resources, whether that means through books, online, or by other means. And the media also has a strong role to play in informing and educating citizens – particularly public sector media. It must also make sure its content is pluralistic.

Humanists UK also called for the global repeal of blasphemy and apostasy laws. As freedom of thought is an absolute right, no one should be punished because they hold certain thoughts. Laws that criminalise apostatic or blasphemous thoughts are thus incompatible with this right.

Humanists UK’s Director of Public Affairs and Policy Richy Thompson commented,

‘Thought is not only a private experience. It is also a skill. Like any crucial skill, it needs to be taught and given the opportunity to develop. Thus, the state must ensure schools teach in a critical, objective, and pluralistic way. We are concerned that in the UK this is not being achieved. Religious education syllabuses still frequently exclude humanism. All state schools must conduct a daily act of compulsory worship – usually Christian in nature. And we are also aware of an increasing number of illegal religious schools. In these schools, the curriculum is extremely narrow, putting the children at risk of indoctrination. We need a society where all schools, the media, and public access to information is diverse and pluralistic.’

Notes:

For further comment or information, please contact Humanists UK Director of Public Affairs and Policy Richy Thompson at press@humanists.uk or phone 020 7324 3072 or 07534 248 596.

Read the consultation response.

Read more about our education campaigns.

Read more about our international campaigns.

Humanists UK is the national charity working on behalf of non-religious people. Powered by 100,000 members and supporters, we advance free thinking and promote humanism to create a tolerant society where rational thinking and kindness prevail. We provide ceremonies, pastoral care, education, and support services benefitting over a million people every year and our campaigns advance humanist thinking on ethical issues, human rights, and equal treatment for all.

In 2021, Humanists UK is celebrating its 125th anniversary with a renewed focus on its history. The new website Humanist Heritage is a rich new web resource that uncovers the untold story of humanism in the UK – a story of people, groups, objects, places, movements, publications, and ideas.

Citations, References And Other Reading

  1. https://humanism.org.uk/2021/06/09/humanists-uk-calls-for-broad-curriculum-in-schools-to-protect-freedom-of-thought/
  2. https://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/FreedomReligion/Pages/freedom-of-thought.aspx

The views, opinions and analyses expressed in the articles on Humanist Freedoms are those of the contributor(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of the publishers.

Human: The Movie

Upon occasion, a work of art catches our full attention when we least expect it. Maybe that work of art is a magnificent garden, cultivated over decades by a single family with a harmonious vision and discovered down that one street you kept meaning to walk along. Maybe it’s a piece of music that gets into your head and heart so completely from the first time you heard it that it no longer seems to be separate. Or maybe it’s some other bit of human skill and design – some exquisite sculpture, poem, painting, building, guitar, novel, or what have you that stops everything else and occupies you fully.

Human: The Movie is that kind of experience.

The Director’s cut version that I’ve linked from Youtube says in the description box:

What is it that makes us human? Is it that we love, that we fight ? That we laugh ? Cry ? Our curiosity ? The quest for discovery ? Driven by these questions, filmmaker and artist Yann Arthus-Bertrand spent three years collecting real-life stories from 2,000 women and men in 60 countries. Working with a dedicated team of translators, journalists and cameramen, Yann captures deeply personal and emotional accounts of topics that unite us all; struggles with poverty, war, homophobia, and the future of our planet mixed with moments of love and happiness. The VOL.1 deals with the themes of love, women, work and poverty. In order to share this unique image bank everywhere and for everyone, HUMAN exist in several versions : A theatrical version (3h11), a TV version (2h11) and a 3 volumes version for the web

The film appears to have been funded by two foundations The Bettencourt Schueller Foundation whose website says that “from its earliest days, the Foundation’s action has been driven by one unwavering principle: contributing to the common good. Acting with complete freedom while remaining true to this principle, the Foundation focuses on three areas of commitment: life sciences, the arts and inclusive society” and The GoodPlanet Foundation which is an extension of Yann Arthus-Bertrand’s artistic work and environmental commitment. GoodPlanet aims to make ecology and humanism a central issue in order to encourage people to take concrete action for the Earth and its inhabitants. The GoodPlanet Foundation takes action in three main areas: environmental and solidarity field projects, educating people on sustainable development and helping companies and people develop an environmentally responsible approach.

What is the next wave of humanism? In our earlier examination, we argued that  “contemporary humanists of the twenty-first century are concerned with applied humanism – the many ways that humanism is used for solving problems. The New Humanist says, ‘I am Extreme; I am Radical; I am Hardcore. I am Humanist.‘”….and it seems that the contemporary humanists are also saying “I am connected to my world. I care.”

Citations, References And Other Reading

  1. Featured Photo Courtesy of: http://www.human-themovie.org/
  2. https://www.fondationbs.org/en
  3. https://www.goodplanet.org/en/

The views, opinions and analyses expressed in the articles on Humanist Freedoms are those of the contributor(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of the publishers.