Tag Archives: humanism

World Humanist Forum – Asia

In our search for interesting, challenging and critical perspectives on contemporary humanism, we occasionally find articles published via other venues that we think humanistfreedoms.com readers may enjoy. The following article was found on Pressenza on August 16, 2021.

Pressenza is a space open to the expression of the social base. We endorse a universalist humanist perspective…(more about Pressenza at the bottom of this article).


By: Karina Lagdameo-Santillan


A Filipina from Manila, Philippines. A longtime Humanist. A Creative Director and Advertising Communications professional for many years, she has been active in the Community for Human Development, facilitating workshops for personal and social change to help build a culture of peace, nondiscrimination and nonviolence. She is currently a freelance writer and a volunteer editor-writer for Pressenza in Asia.


August 15, 2021. The World Humanist Forum- Asia was officially launched with the participation of over 105 individuals, many representing humanist organisms and other NGOs/groups, all sharing the same vision of a non-violent and non-discriminatory humane world, and working in their different fields towards that vision—humanizing the earth. The Forum connected and linked participants coming from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Philippines, Japan, Australia, also from Africa, Europe, North and South America.

Sudhir Gandhotra facilitated so that the participants could discuss, interchange and be inspired by each other to continue with their actions and to reach more people in the region, to address crucial issues of violence and discrimination that all face in their personal and social lives.

To start the forum, he defined that the humanist is someone or anyone who believes in non-violence and is against discrimination and violent action. He quoted from Silo, founder of New Humanism and the Humanist Movement:

“Namer of a thousand names, maker of meanings, transformer of the world, your parents and the parents of your parents continue in you. You are not a fallen star but a brilliant arrow flying toward the heavens. You are the meaning of the world, and when you clarify your meaning you illuminate the earth. When you lose your meaning, the earth becomes darkened and the abyss opens.

I will tell you the meaning of your life here: It is to humanize the earth. And what does it mean to humanize the earth? It is to surpass pain and suffering; it is to learn without limits; it is to love the reality you build.

I cannot ask you to go further, but neither should it offend if I declare, “Love the reality you build, and not even death will halt your flight!”

You will not fulfill your mission if you do not apply your energies to vanquishing pain and suffering in those around you. And if through your action they, in turn, take up the task of humanizing the world, you will have opened their destiny toward a new life.”

The opening remarks given by Antonio Carvallo set the tone further:

Dear Dr. Mathai, dear Mr. Rajagopal, dear Ms. Sudha Soni, dear Sudhir, dear Ajeet. Dear friends representing the organisms of the Humanist Movement and Silo’s Message, dear friends who accompany this occasion.

I am delighted to be celebrating the launching of the Asian Humanist Forum, with all of you. Our aim is to communicate to the world Silo’s message of Humanization with the goal to construct a Universal Human Nation. What better a day than today, the anniversary of Indian independence so strongly associated with the memory of Mahatma Gandhi and his universal call for non-violence.

The Forum aspires to send a renewed and powerful appeal to overcome suffering, capable of sounding meaningful and providing direction to every individual.

That message is a message of faith, of compassion, of recognition and trust in our own inner force, capable of guiding us through the most difficult circumstances. A message that persuades us to treat others as we like to be treated.

A message that helps everyone to connect with themselves, to access the profound and sacred that lies in our hearts and minds.

In times of big instability and confusion, like the present one, when even nature appears unpredictable and threatening, we need to hold together and find support in our center of gravity.

We think that the world is changing for the better and that we are at a turning point in our civilization, in the process of transforming into a universal human nation. This is new and unprecedented; we are facing the need for a profound change both socially and individually. The human being must be the central value in this change. We must learn to eradicate violence from our minds and our societies, since both are inextricably intertwined. This task needs to be undertaken now by every one of us.

This is in summary the message the Humanist Forum should aspire to deliver everywhere and to everyone. Because it is good, because it is just and because it is urgent.

To make it possible we all need to work together.”

After this, a tapestry of missions and visions, of actions and campaigns strung together with the thread that humanizes, commenced. Participants heard from Ghandians about their peace and non-violence programs, from grassroots NGOs addressing the different needs of the communities and sectors of society they work in, be they Muslims or young women who need education, about foot marches across India being planned from September 21, Day of Peace to October 2, Gandhi’s birthday, which is the International Day of Non-violence. And more…

Representatives from the five organisms of the Humanist Movement talked about what they do and stand for. The Community for Human Development works in the social field, helping “to raise the level of consciousness”. The Humanist Party is in the political field which greatly affects everyone, aiming to restore real power to the people and not resting on the interests of a handful. The Convergence of Cultures organism espouses the need for all the cultures to coordinate, coexist and learn from each other, acknowledging and respecting cultural diversity. Aspiring towards no borders, World without Wars and Violence, the organization that launched the Global March in all continents in 2009 calling for an end of nuclear arms and disarmament, is launching another World March. Now, it is expanding its scope from war and armaments to all forms of violence and aiming to educate the youth, the next generation, on the principles of peace. The World Center of Humanist Studies analyzing the crucial issues affecting the world today, looking for proposals and solutions. And, as all human beings have a spiritual part within, the messengers inspired by the book, The Message of Silo, works to carry peace within themselves to others.

The forum was spirited and lively, even going beyond the foreseen time as everyone shared and started connecting with each other. After an Asking to strengthen the resolve to carry on with the Forum’s mission, closing remarks pointed out that the internet was and is able to create and forge links. Thanks to this, it is helping to connect like-minded people within the environment of the World Humanist Forum which was just officially launched and will help it to go forward into the envisioned future. The website can play a big role to connect people across countries as organizations and individuals can join the Forum, inform, get in touch and collaborate with others. (https://www.whfasia.org/)

Everyone left, greatly inspired to expand this Humanist Work even to other Asian countries such as China, Vietnam, Thailand and Japan. As a participant, Pradeepan Madathil, commented, “ This is the voice of the times. The unity of non-violent peoples around the world, the togetherness of the volunteers, and the current global community waiting for such unity”

Here is the link to the recorded video of the Forum inauguration:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3kQa-2oITco&t=5445s

About Pressenza

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Citations, References And Other Reading

  1. Featured Photo Courtesy of https://www.pressenza.com/2021/08/world-humanist-forum-asia-connecting-for-collaboration-and-action/
  2. https://www.whfasia.org/

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.

Film: Summertime & Tiger Tales Media

At this late date in August – have you just about browsed and dismissed just about every film available through your mainstream entertainment accounts? Bored with the usual slate of superhero movies, cops-and-murderer mysteries and documentaries that reveal little about the world and the human condition and the world we currently experience?

Well maybe the film Summertime and one of its backers, Tiger Tale Media could provide something different and worthy of your attention.

The film appears to be backed by Tiger Tales Media, whose website says, Tiger Tales Media is investing in a future for independent filmmaking grounded by rational optimism and a deep regard for the human condition. Founded as a means to facilitate and expand dialogues around humanist causes through both documentary and narrative film, Tiger Tales Media takes equity positions and awards grants that enable artists and storytellers to amplify their voices.

In addition to Summertime, Tiger Tales Media’s past projects includes several other documentaries that promise to be interesting , important and informative: The Social Dilemma is  a documentary-drama hybrid which reveals how social media is reprogramming civilization with tech experts sounding the alarm on their own creations; Pray Away examines Exodus International and, according to the filmmaker to “tell the truth of the “pray the gay away” movement’s enduring harm.“; The Devil We Know is a film about the...is the story of how one synthetic chemical, used to make Teflon products, contaminated a West Virginia community. But new research hints at a much broader problem: nearly all Americans are affected by exposure to non-stick chemicals in food, drinking water, and consumer products. With very little oversight on the chemical industry in this country, we invite you to learn more about the problem and how you can protect yourself and your family.

Now…about Summertime…..here’s the press release:

Good Deed Entertainment announced today that their spoken word, Rotten Tomato certified-fresh hit film SUMMERTIME, directed by Carlos López Estrada (Raya And The Last Dragon (2021), Blindspotting (2018) and Marvel’s Legion (2017)), and executive produced by Kelly Marie Tran, will be available for fans to own beginning on August 27, 2021 and can be purchased through all major retailers including, iTunes/AppleTV, Amazon, Vudu and Google Play. The film can currently be pre-ordered at iTunes and a full list of where to purchase the film can be found at the SUMMERTIME website.

The film SUMMERTIME takes place over the course of a hot summer day in Los Angeles, following the lives of 27 young adults as they intersect. A skating guitarist, a tagger, two wannabe rappers, an exasperated fast-food worker, a limo driver—they all weave in and out of each other’s stories. Through poetry they express life, love, heartache, family, home, and fear. One of them just wants to find someplace that still serves good cheeseburgers.

The film was developed over a summer workshop with the young poets, who were all part of Get Lit – Words Ignite, an LA based nonprofit that fuses classic and original spoken word poetry to increase teen literacy on the page and in visual media. All 27 poets served as co-writers and stars in the film.

As part of the film’s social impact campaign, a full one-of-a-kindcomprehensive educational curriculum has been created for schools nationwide focusing on grades 9-12+. The curriculum includes access to Get Lit’s brand-new, interactive online poetry platform Uni(verse), currently in open beta,being made available at no cost to educators, thanks to an Uproar grant from Tiger Tales Media. The curriculum is aligned with the following standards: Common Core, SEL (CASEL), English Languages Acquisition, Visual & Performing Arts (VAPA), Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS) and CPalms (B.E.S.T Standards)and is paired with engaging clips from the film. It is also modified to meet the needs of ELL and GATE students as well as students with special needs. 

SUMMERTIME was released in theaters nationwide beginning on July 9, 2021, and will be available to rent later this fall. 

Citations, References And Other Reading

  1. Featured Photo Courtesy of
  2. https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/experience-the-power-of-a-spoken-word-poetry-movie-at-home-with-the-film-summertime-from-director-carlos-lopez-estrada-available-to-own-beginning-on-august-27-301352694.html
  3. https://gooddeedentertainment.com/summertime/
  4. https://tigertalesmedia.com/
  5. https://www.thesocialdilemma.com/
  6. https://www.prayawayfilm.com/
  7. https://thedevilweknow.com/


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.

August 2021 – A HumanistFreedoms benchmark surpassed and Call for Submissions

2020 was HumanistFreedoms.com’s first full year of operation. We enjoyed publishing articles promoting and celebrating humanism and our common humanity. We thank our contributors, readers and visitors for making http://www.humanistfreedoms.com a unique online magazine.

Please follow our website, share articles with your friends and help us grow. At the end of February, we had reached half of the views we had for all of 2020! As the month of July comes to an end, we’ve surpassed our total views from last year!

Now for 2021 we are looking for even more essays, articles and stories to share! We are not able to pay for articles (yet) but we want to hear what you have to say. This month, themes that we want to explore include:

  • Contemporary Humanism’s Biggest Priorities and Challenges for 2021
  • Leadership Within The Humanist Movement
  • Humanism and Secularism
  • Humanism and Human Trafficking
  • Digital Humanism
  • Humanism and Global Population
  • A Humanist Perspective of Radical Politics
  • Humanist Photography: Photographer Review
  • Humanism in the Arts
  • Humanism Behind the Mask: Maintaining Respect and Compassion During the Pandemic
  • Humanism and the Environment
  • Humanism and Freedom of Expression: Lessons From 2020
  • Humanism and Freedom of/from Religion: Global Lessons
  • Humanism and Architecture
  • Book/Movie/Music/Arts Review: A Humanist Recommends….

Do you have an idea that isn’t on our list? Let us know. Inquire at humanistfreedoms@gmail.com

Can Humanism Help Advance Human Rights in Africa?

In our search for interesting, challenging and critical perspectives on contemporary humanism, we occasionally find articles published via other venues that we think humanistfreedoms.com readers may enjoy. The following article was located on Equal Times on April 28, 2021.


By Amy Fallon

It was a story that you could say caused a bit of a buzz. Bees ’arrest’ suspected burglars in Busia, screamed the headline of a March 2021 story from the Ugandan newspaper, the Daily Monitor. The article, which attracted much derision on social media, told the story of a burglar who appeared to find himself apprehended by a swarm of bees after the victim of the house he had broken into decided to seek justice via a witch doctor rather than the police.

In a country where there is a strong belief in the supernatural, such headlines are not uncommon. “Some traditional healers exploit the ignorance of the population,” says Kato Mukasa, a human rights lawyer and chair of the Uganda Humanist Association (UHASSO). “[There’s] a category that pretends to have spiritual healing powers. They cause a lot of mayhem.”

While belief in witchcraft is commonplace across the continent, Africa is also considered one of the most religious parts of the world. According to 2017 research from the Pew Center, by 2060, 42 per cent of Christians and 27 per cent of Muslims will live in sub-Saharan Africa. In October, openDemocracy reported that more than 20 US Christian groups opposing LGBTI rights, safe abortion access and sex education have increased their spending to the tune of at least US$54 million in Africa over the past 13 years.

Despite this, humanism – a philosophy and way of life that stresses reason and free inquiry and opposes theism and supernatural views among other characteristics – is making headway on the continent.

“In many African countries humanist groups and individuals are working to make the wider public rediscover their own African humanist tradition, the concept of Ubuntu [a Zulu word and pan-African philosophy which roughly translates to mean “I am because we are”], a secular and humanist framework for compassion, reciprocity, dignity, harmony, and humanity for the purpose of building and sustaining community with justice and mutual concern,” says Giovanni Gaetani, membership engagement manager for Humanists International (HI), the global body of the humanist movement.

When HI was founded in 1952, there were just five member organisations; now, there are more than 170 from 75 countries, including 10 associations in Africa. HI holds a general assembly annually and its World Humanist Congress normally takes place every three years. At a local level, humanist organisations hold physical and (increasingly since the pandemic) virtual meetings for participants to learn and exchange ideas, to allow like-minded people to meet up, and to carry out voluntary work.

“New and emerging humanist organisations are sprouting all around the African continent, for example Humanists Liberia, Humanists Malawi and Secular Humanists Mauritius,” says Gaetani. And beyond humanism, secularism is also making its presence felt. Gaetani points to Sudan, which embraced a secular constitution in September 2020 after decades of Islam as the state religion. Meanwhile in Zimbabwe, the government has “taken strides to promote secularism despite the absence of an organised secular society,” according to Takudzwa Mazwienduna, a Zimbabwean-born humanist and author of the upcoming book A Vehicle for Progress, which looks at humanism in southern Africa, noting the government’s 2016 decision to ban prayer in schools and restrict religion to private spaces only.

Anti-atheist backlash, and advancing rights

While there has been some growth in the humanist movement in Africa, there has also been a backlash in some places, which is unsurprising given the stigma attached to atheism. “In Uganda and Africa, when a child is born, they are automatically inducted into religion,” says Dr Frank Mugisha, who despite being an LGBTI activist has been a Catholic “all my life”. “Atheism is rare and frowned upon so much in wider society,” he says. “To fit in, everyone has to belong to a religion.”

Nigeria – a secular country as set out in its constitution and where 49.3 per cent of citizens are Christian and 48.8 per cent are Muslim – has become the “epicentre of a new anti-atheist backlash,” particularly in the north of the country, according to Gaetani. The country’s most famous atheist Mubarak Bala, the president of the Humanist Association of Nigeria, will mark one year in jail on 28 April.

Bala was arrested at his home in the predominantly Muslim, north-western state of Kaduna before being detained in the neighbouring state of Kano over a Facebook post that authorities claim breached Nigeria’s Cybercrimes Act by insulting the Prophet Muhammed and being “provocative and annoying to Muslims.” Bala is the son of a prominent Islamic scholar whose family had him forcibly sectioned when he first renounced Islam and declared himself an atheist in 2014.

Despite his current detention, he is yet to be charged with any crime. His case had been adjourned until 20 April, but the hearing did not go ahead because of an industrial strike. James Ibor, who heads Bala’s legal team, says they are “exhausting all legal avenues” but are calling on the United Nations to impose sanctions on the Kano state governor and members of his cabinet. “We are also pressuring the UK embassy, the US embassy and the EU delegation in Nigeria, to get in touch with the government and put pressure on them over this,” adds Dr Leo Igwe, chair of the board of trustees for the Humanist Association of Nigeria, and a close friend of Bala.

Rare wins for Nigeria’s non-believers – who number between 50,000 to 100,000 according to Igwe, with only a tiny fraction openly declaring their beliefs – include holding Africa’s first humanist conference in 2001, and the recent launch of the non-profit Advocacy for Alleged Witches (AfAW) which uses the philosophy of humanism as a vehicle to save the lives of those impacted by superstition.

Humanists in Africa’s most populous country hold onto their beliefs, despite the dangers. Igwe has faced death threats for his support of Bala and he even had to temporarily flee his apartment. Femi (not his real name) lives in the south-western city of Ibadan and has been a humanist for nine years but says that he still does not feel comfortable going public with his beliefs. “It’s hard. Many of us get dumped by our romantic partners for being humanists,” he says, adding that his Christian mother would be “heartbroken” if she ever found out, although “that’s still better than the north [of Nigeria] where your family member may poison you for being godless.”

Igwe says that while he fears that there may have been an increase in witchcraft accusations in the face of the global public health crisis caused by Covid-19, the pandemic has shown that humanism is needed more than ever to strengthen rights and promote science. “Covid-19 has once again made it clear that superstition, paranormal beliefs and faith-based narratives offer us nothing in terms of our growth or progress in the face of diseases,” Igwe tells Equal Times.

For Amina Ahmed – the wife of Mubarak Bala, who is herself a humanist – humanism “can help women to stand up for their rights” and advance the cause of gender equality in Nigeria as “most women are being [metaphorically] caged due to religious beliefs.” For Roslyn Mould, former president of the Humanist Association of Ghana and the first African woman to be elected to the board of HI, humanism could be a crucial tool for wider gender and sexual emancipation across the continent. “As an African, humanism teaches us to decolonise our minds from dogmatic cultural and religious ways of thought that create divisiveness among our genders and diverse sexualities and hinders our development as a people. It is important that we drive equality, taking equity into account, on our continent amongst men and women.”

Flourishing in Uganda, despite the challenges

In the continent’s east, humanists are watching the Bala case daily. Africa’s humanist roots are firmly planted in Uganda. It was the first country to register a humanist organisation (UHASSO) in the mid-1990s and it is one of the few African countries to have a humanist organisation in every region. Still, according to various sources, less than one per cent of the Ugandan population describes itself as ‘without religion’, in a Christian-majority country within a secular state.

In 2014 a notorious act was signed into law to make homosexuality illegal, driven by foreign and local evangelicals, before being struck down, but religion continues to have a grip on Uganda. Bodies like the Inter-Religious Council of Uganda are still involved in politics and before the pandemic it was not uncommon for flamboyant prophets to commandeer packed megachurches.

But an increasing number of atheists are asserting their presence in the public space. Mukasa can often be seen on TV, while Robert Bwambale is renowned for founding the Kasese Humanist School, in the west of the country, where educators teach LGBTI and women’s rights, climate change and democracy.

Despite facing backlash – Mukasa’s car was set on fire and his workplace was vandalised, while Bwambale was the victim of a community smear campaign – humanists in Uganda won’t stay silent.

About 31 of the country’s groups, led by the newly formed Ugandan non-profit African Humanist Celebrant Network (AHCN), which trains humanist celebrants (someone who officiates non-religious marriage, funeral or other ceremonies) across Africa, are petitioning the Ugandan parliament to change the country’s Marriage and Divorce Bill to allow for humanist ceremonies. Apart from South Africa, humanist ceremonies are banned across the continent but Uganda’s humanists claim that the nation’s constitution contains protections against discrimination for non-believers, and argue that the ceremonies “give us a platform to show the world that it is perfectly fine to live a life without God”.

Unsurprisingly, there has been some opposition, with Bishop Jacinto Kibuuka, who leads the Christian Ecumenical Council of Uganda, vowing in December to draft an opposition petition, although nothing has happened yet. “Those voices who claimed same sex relations were a culture war by the West against Africa and the Church will re-emerge and cast humanist marriages as market entry for same sex marriages – precisely because they are non-denominational, promote free choice and individuality,” says Ugandan analyst Angelo Izama.

But whatever happens, Mukasa says the country’s humanists are here to stay. “When we registered our first organisation, there were very few people saying ‘I’m an atheist’. But right now if you follow our page online you would be surprised at the number of people saying ‘to hell with religion,’” says the activist. “We are eating into [religion], we are weakening it, even when [their followers] are making inroads we are making inroads too.”


Citations, References And Other Reading

  1. Featured Photo Courtesy of:  https://holylandmap.blogspot.com/2013/05/human-face-of-africa.html
  2. https://www.equaltimes.org/can-humanism-help-advance-human
  3. https://www.amyfallon.com/

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.

Roadrunner: Anthony Bourdain and How Humanism Infuses Everything

Featured in the trailer for Roadrunner, a documentary about chef and television personality Anthony Bourdain, is a comment which argues that, “It was almost never about food…he was about totally learning to be a better person.”

Whether by design and intent or not, this singular comment provides a measured, rich and delicious metaphor for how a deeply-lived humanism infuses everything.

Human connection and humanism rarely separate us from our world. Humanism tends to deepen our care for all of the people, things and processes that surround us.

In Emily Zemler’s interview (Inside the Hurt and Humanism of Anthony Bourdain Doc ‘Roadrunner’), Morgan Neville, the film-maker says, “For somebody like Keith Richards or Iggy Pop, they’ve survived because they don’t care about anything, in a way that is enlightened. They don’t care what people say about them. They don’t care how they come off. They care about the people in their lives and, as Iggy says in the people, the people who love him. They are family people. But they have a relaxed way of being in the world. It’s carefree, which is enviable. And Tony was the opposite. He cared about everything. Every tweet. Every review. Every episode. As much as he tried to walk the walk, constitutionally he was not a Dionysian figure.

Anthony Bourdain’s suicide evokes a great sadness. But a person’s life is not entirely understood by cutting consideration of the person down to nothing more than the nature of their death. When has it been more necessary than today to understand that none of us are entirely defined by our best moments, our worst moments or even our final moments?

Morgan Neville said, “He was such an humanist, but also so fucking funny — and dark.” Considering Anthony Boudain’s humanism and considering all others via a humanist perspective opens inquiry and curiosity rather than shuttering it with a grieving-veil of emotional taboo.

In the essay Why People Loved Bourdain, Jaron Gilinski argued that “Tony stood for more than mere writing, travelling, and eating. In pursuing those three actions with gusto, perhaps to his chagrin, he became a cultural icon for the 3 ism’s of humanism, pluralism, and globalism, values held sacred to many across the planet. Anthony Bourdain had a trademark formula for human connection that is so simple, so replicable, and yet so lost in today’s world. His ingenious discovery was that when you sit down and share a meal with someone, anyone, you have a better chance of understanding them. you ask the right questions over intoxicating aromas, a real connection can be made.

Olivia Durif (Pouring One out for Anthony Bourdain) was inspired by Bourdain to write, “Eating, for Bourdain, was ultimately a humanist act. It is a good thing, he believed, to care about strangers, especially if you cannot imagine how they live their lives. It is also good to eat in many different kinds of places: at a restaurant, on the street, at the home of a friend, with a stranger.

This is a lesson of humanism. Whether one experiences life as a chef, a teacher, a corporate executive a dentist or any other occupation that you care to mention – human connection can, if you open up to it, infuse every part of that experience.

Citations, References And Other Reading

  1. Featured Photo Courtesy ofhttps://www.focusfeatures.com/roadrunner
  2. https://observer.com/2021/07/anthony-bourdain-roadrunner-morgan-neville-interview/
  3. https://jarongilinsky.medium.com/why-people-loved-bourdain-d152d22c5954
  4. https://lareviewofbooks.org/article/pouring-one-anthony-bourdain/#!


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.

Designing For Individual Experience: Selldorf Architects

It isn’t often that HumanistFreedoms.com expects to feature a job opening for a major architectural firm. We don’t even have a classifieds section! But we’ve come across something that we couldn’t overlook. According to Archinect, Selldorf Architects is searching for an Advanced Architectural Designer and a Project Architect. Not ready for “Wow!” yet? Keep reading.

What caught our eye was the job ad’s assertion that “Selldorf Architects is a 70-person architectural design practice founded by Annabelle Selldorf in New York City in 1988. The firm creates public and private spaces that manifest a clear and modern sensibility to enduring impact. Since its inception the firm’s guiding principles have been deeply rooted in humanism. At every scale and for every condition, Selldorf Architects designs for the individual experience. As a result, its work is brought to life–and made complete–by those who use it.” Sounds like a pretty good reason for any architect who happens to be a humanist to pay attention right?

How about Annabelle Selldorf’s 2018 essay Pressing for Evolution in the Field – (NewCities.org), when Selldorf advocated for greater equality in architecture, “For us to move forward as a society and within our architectural coterie we need to tackle the structures that seek to curtail women’s progress. This is both an issue of policy and individual responsibility. Ultimately, gender equality is an issue of humanism and respect. It is only until we eliminate the notion of “the other” that we will begin to truly achieve a fully evolved and equitable society. It is both an internal and personal endeavor to overcome our own biases as well as an external one to push for change within our field and broadly.

And then there’s the amazing projects the firm has been involved in: The Frick Collection, Luma Arles, The Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego, Steinway HAll and one our favorites (see featured image) The Mwabwindow School in Southern Zambia, a project to increase education in rural Africa.

Firms like Selldorf Architects are helping to make humanism an exciting feature of contemporary society. Definitely a company that ought to make a humanist say, “Wow!” If you know an architect who happens to be a humanist – maybe the July 6 job postings we found are something they will want to hear about!

Selldorf Architect’s Employment Page

Citations, References And Other Reading

  1. Featured Photo Courtesy of: https://www.selldorf.com/projects/the-mwabwindo-school
  2. https://www.selldorf.com/
  3. https://archinect.com/jobs/entry/150272692/advanced-architectural-designer
  4. https://newcities.org/the-big-picture-pressing-for-evolution-in-the-field/
  5. https://aperture.org/editorial/annabelle-selldorf-interview/
  6. https://archinect.com/jobs/entry/150272689/project-architect

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.

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

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 Solidarity and Nature Conservation

In our search for interesting, challenging and critical perspectives on contemporary humanism, we occasionally find articles published in other venues that we think humanistfreedoms.com readers may enjoy. The following article was published on Manuel Garcia, Jr.’s personal website on April 11, 2021.



By: Manuel Garcia, Jr.

“As far as we can discern, the sole purpose of human existence is to kindle a light in the darkness of mere being.” Carl Gustav Jung [1]

Life is the actualization of potentialities embedded within the biochemical processes that form the mechanisms of genetics and evolution. Does life have a purpose, or is it entirely a statistically random fluke made possible by the astronomical number of possibilities available for the expression of molecular chemistry in the wide array of physical conditions interspersed throughout the vastness of space? To believe that life has a consciously intended purpose is to believe that life is an intentional creation by a conscious supernatural entity or entities. If so, what is that purpose?

We know that the most elementary organisms of proto-life, like the SARS-CoV-2 virus that infects people with the deadly COVID-19 disease, have no purpose beyond the mindless mechanical continuation of their genetic formats, by feeding their metabolisms through parasitism. But, what of more conscious organisms, like: plants, animals, us?

We humans pride ourselves as presumably having the most highly developed conscious minds of all life-forms on Planet Earth (though very deep ecologists and naturalists disagree with this presumptuousness). From this human-centric point of view, the various levels of consciousness of living organisms are all evolutionary adaptations enhancing the survivability of individuals, to thus enhance the likelihood of the propagation and continuation of their species as environmental conditions change.

For believers in the supernatural there is an imposed obligation, or supra-natural goal, or “higher purpose” to human consciousness, which can be most generally characterized as finding union with God. For non-believers, the fully conscious experience of being alive is the totality of that higher purpose. In either case, the realization of that purpose is to be had by the combination of human solidarity and nature conservation.

Homo sapiens are social animals, and their full development as individuals — their realization of purpose — requires social connection and connection with Nature.

TALES BY LIGHT

“Tales by Light” [2] is an Australian television series (in 3 seasons) about the use of photography and videography to tell stories visually so as to change society for the better: activism. Here, I am only writing about episodes from Season 3. By its very nature this series is visually “beautiful” — in terms of the technical perfection of the image composition, capture and presentation — even when abysmally grim and ugly situations are being shown in order to advance the complete story. This is about emotional punch delivered visually. And of course, incredibly happy bursts of emotion are delivered in the same way by the presentation of images of lushly colorful nature, and joyful and inspiring scenes of human warmth, kindness and sheer exuberance. The three stories (each given in two parts) that affected me were:

1, CHILDREN IN NEED: This story, by Simon Lister, is about the children of Dhaka, Bangladesh, who scrounge through the most disgusting, unsafe and unsanitary heaps of rubbish to find scraps of material that can be recycled locally — like plastic forks and containers — in the abysmal poverty of their society; or who do difficult work in unsafe and toxic conditions to support their families. There are millions of these kids in Bangladesh.

Many Bangladeshi kids work in primitive workshops with zero health and safety codes, procedures and equipment, for example to produce pans and bowls by hands pressing sheet metal against spinning mandrels, again with no protective shields from whirling machinery gears and belts right at hand; nor any proper ventilation and filtration to protect them from toxic metal dust, or fumes in workshops using solvents and chemicals.

The story of such child laborers in the poorest societies on Earth is being documented as part of a UNICEF program to bring world (rich world) attention to the problem of child labor, and to generate financial resources to then provide safe and sanitary spaces for such children to be able to get food, education, rest, shelter for the night off the streets, and the joyful companionship of other children. But, since the money these children gain from their difficult and hazardous work is always the lifeline for the support of their families, often of single mothers, such a labor force is considered “normal” in their societies, and lamentably economically essential for these individuals.

The ultimate “solution” for eliminating this heartbreaking situation would be a worldwide awakening to an actual commitment to species-wide human solidarity. That that idea becomes self-evident through the medium of photography testifies to its power as an art-form.

2, PARADISE IN PERIL: This story, by Shawn Heinrichs, is of the conservation of the ocean biodiversity and habitat of the Raja Ampat Islands. Here, the art of photography is being used to present the story of the value of an amazing tropical coral reef and mangrove forest environment in New Guinea (Indonesia).

That story is told in two directions, first “upscale” to the societies of the wealthy industrialized and developed economies, to generate financial resources needed to establish locally manned, maintained, patrolled, owned — and in selected zones sustainably fished — marine reserves, and to ensure their continued operation and ongoing scientific study.

That story is also told “downscale,” in video presentations in their own language to the actual people living in the environments that are being protected, so that new generations of conservationists grow out of the youth of that indigenous population, now fired up with a greater understanding of the positive impact their healthy local environment has on their own lives as well as on the global environment.

The emotional impetus to these conservation efforts, both locally and remotely, is sparked by the visual impact of the photos and videos of the stunning and vibrant beauty of life moving in that magical submerged translucent habitat. The Raja Ampat Islands is one of the few places on Earth where all measures of biodiversity and ecological health are improving right now, even despite advancing global climate change; and this is entirely because of cooperative human intentionality.

3, PRESERVING INDIGENOUS CULTURE: This story by Dylan River, an Australian filmmaker with an Aboriginal grandmother, is of the recording for posterity of Aboriginal ways and languages slowly being lost with the passing away of elders, of the stories behind some of their ancient rock art, of ways of living off the land and sea while being intimately connected to the natural environment, and of community as the essence of being.

On a visit to Arnhem Land, Dylan is immersed into a welcoming ritual by the Yoingu people, whose spokesman at the event states that though Dylan is from far away he is “part of the family” as is everybody in spirit. The entirety of this brief and simple greeting conveys a fundamental truth that is more clearly and wisely stated, and lived by the Yoingu, than with any of the fatuous self-satisfied pronouncements by our many supposedly powerful and always hypocritical political leaders, who collectively oversee and exacerbate the poisonous fractiousness and sociological cannibalism of our national and world societies.

The basic truth here is that every human being “is something Nature is doing” — as Alan Watts put it — and that Nature is integral, it is a harmoniously self-entangling network of life. And that is what healthy human community should be.

I recommend this series to you because of its many simultaneous dimensions of beauty.

To my mind, the financial investments made by the executives of Canon Incorporated, National Geographic (a subscription television network in Australia and New Zealand that features documentaries, and is owned by The Walt Disney Company), and Netflix, to produce and broadcast this series were very worthy, even as I know there would necessarily also have been a component of profit motive in those investment decisions.

What is needed in our world is ever the same: more human solidarity and nature conservation. The wider broadcast of these three stories from the series Tales By Light could help awaken more people to that realization, or at a minimum give some comfort to those who already know.

Acknowledgment: Gretchen Hennig perceptively brought Tales by Light to my attention.

Here is a musical ornamentation to all the above; about a child, really any child: “Chihiro.”
https://soundcloud.com/ellasolanagarcia/chihiro

Notes

[1] “Our age has shifted all emphasis to the here and now, and thus brought about a daemonization of man and his world. The phenomenon of dictators and all the misery they have wrought springs from the fact that man has been robbed of transcendence by the shortsightedness of the super-intellectuals. Like them, he has fallen a victim to unconsciousness. But man’s task is the exact opposite: to become conscious of the contents that press upward from the unconscious. Neither should he persist in his unconsciousness, nor remain identical with the unconscious elements of his being, thus evading his destiny, which is to create more and more consciousness. As far as we can discern, the sole purpose of human existence is to kindle a light in the darkness of mere being. It may even be assumed that just as the unconscious affects us, so the increase in our consciousness affects the unconscious.”

C. G. Jung (1875-1961), from the closing chapter of his autobiography “Memories, Dreams, Reflections,” entitled “Life and Death,” written between 1957 and 1961. This excerpt is highlighted and discussed at
https://www.brainpickings.org/2012/03/13/memories-dreams-reflections/

[2] Tales by Light (on Netflix)
https://www.netflix.com/title/80133187

Tales by Light (official website)
https://www.canon.com.au/explore/tales-by-light

Tales by Light (series described)
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tales_by_Light


Manuel Garcia, Jr. is a retired physicist who blogs at https://manuelgarciajr.com on “energy, nature, society,” like on global warming; plus idiosyncratic poetry. During his working career he designed many experiments in high power, high energy and explosive energy physics. His orientation is rationalist, leftist, Zen and humanist.

Citations, References And Other Reading

  1. Featured Photo Courtesy of:
  2. https://manuelgarciajr.com/
  3. https://www.un.org/ungifts/content/sphere-within-sphere

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.