Tag Archives: humanism

April 2021 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’ve had almost half of the views we had for all of 2020! You can help!

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 Review: A Humanist Recommends….

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

Next Wave Humanism

Since HumanistFreedoms.com began publication early in 2020, we have witnessed more…and more frequent…signs that humanists around the world are seeking a next wave of humanism. Twentieth century humanism is dead – long live twenty-first century humanism!

What will the next wave of humanism look like?

Is Hardcore Humanism An Answer?

Do an internet search for “Hardcore Humanism” and you will find a website and blog for Dr. Michael Friedman, PhD – a clinical psychologist who promotes ” a life philosophy, therapeutic modality and life coaching program that brings together the compassionate holistic approach of humanistic psychology with the scientific rigor of behavioral therapy. Humanistic psychology promotes unconditional positive regard – a basic belief that all people are good and have value – as they strive to achieve their life’s purpose and best self. With Hardcore Humanism, the Humanistic approach is optimized to include the hardcore work ethic and science-based approach of behavioral therapy. In other words, Hardcore Humanism means not only understanding and accepting yourself but also working in a methodical way to achieve your purpose and find fulfillment.”

Whether Friedman’s clinical approach is particularly novel or not, fundamental to his branding is the marriage of humanism to a commitment so staunch, so unwavering and elemental that it is “hardcore”. Friedman’s podcast and website currently has a wide selection of articles which feature connections between heavy metal and punk subcultures and and music.

Is There Room For A Radical Humanism?

On July 1, 2020 Counterpunch published an article by Julian Vigo calling for a “radical humanism” in response to current social and political events and trends. Despite the bold title, “A Call for Radical Humanism: the Left needs to return to Class Analyses of Power“, Vigo did not directly define “radical humanism”. Nor did Vigo clearly state why or how a proposed return to class analysis of power by The Left would fulfill a radical humanism. Over the course of the article, Vigo jumped instead to a kind of applied radical humanism without providing the reader with the benefit of a defined radical humanism.

Vigo’s article suggests that there are contemporary humanists who crave the presence of a form of humanism that has been absent from contemporary public life and politics.

An exploration of the term radical humanism must begin with definitions of the two root words, humanism and radicalism.

Humanism has a rich, complicated and nuanced history that we’re going to set aside as too vast to explore in a short article. If you’re reading this article, you probably have a reasonably well-informed perspective anyway. For the purposes of this inquiry, the term humanism denotes ethical perspectives which focus exclusively on human (and not supernatural or theistic) actions, interests, values and dignity.

Radicalism on the other hand requires more exploration. Vigo’s article is not clear whether “radical humanism” is intended to suggest an extremist position or whether it is to indicate a form of humanist fundamentalism.

Whether Vigo intended a call for extremism or fundamentalism, or some combination of both, it seems that the call for radical humanism is a call for a stronger and more assertive wave of humanism that prioritizes a search for solutions to the root causes of the problems facing humanity over addressing their symptoms and a focus on substance rather than symbols addressing class.

Julian Vigo has given humanistfreedoms.com permission to republish “A Call for Radical Humanism: the Left needs to return to Class Analyses of Powehttps://humanistfreedoms.com/2021/04/02/essay-a-call-for-radical-humanism-the-left-needs-to-return-to-class-analyses-of-power/.

Who is the New Humanist?

In recent decades, it has been popular to characterize humanism as an ideology of “old white men”. This characterization has become so widely accepted that Roy Speckhardt, the most recent leader of American Humanist Associate recently resigned from the role stating that, “Being at the helm of such an organization as the AHA, whose mission is so critical to our times and whose influence far outstrips its size, was the greatest honor of my life, but I’ve decided it’s time for me to step down and make room for new leadership. It is my emphatic hope that my seat is filled with a Black or Brown humanist because our movement has gone too long without such diversity at the helm and this would open the door for the AHA to truly achieve its potential as a humanist and anti-racist institution.

On March 13, 2021 we published “Humanists – Where Are You” by Jay Rene Shakur. The article is signed as “The New Humanist”. The question of who The New Humanist may be is vital to the future of humanism.

Shakur heads-up the website HipHopHumanism.Com. The website explores the connections between Hip Hop music and culture and humanism. There is an important similarity between Friedman’s linking of metal and punk subculture trends to humanism and Shakur’s work to do the same between Hip Hop and humanism. In either case, within the mirrored statements, “I am Hip Hop” and “I am Punk” or “I am Metal” there is also reflected a particular statement of who the New Humanist is and how they may be found. The New Humanist is part of wide-spread cultural identities as well as niche sub-cultures with values and aesthetics that are no longer exclusive to “the old white man” of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

Extreme Humanism

Another example of the contemporary urge toward an assertively-held contemporary humanism may be found in a new management book by Tom Peters titled “Excellence Now: Extreme Humanism“.

That the term humanism would be used as a primary component of a mainstream business-guru-genre book is evidence of just how widespread and essential humanism has become in mainstream culture. And the current appetite is not for yesterday’s average humanism. The appetite is for Extreme Humanism.

Where some parts of society have social sub-culture identities that form a vital connection to their humanism – others have professional sub-cultures. Business gurus and leaders like Peters are pursuing organizational excellence through humanism. The medical profession pursues better medicine through humanism by including humanism as a key-note speaking engagements or through patient relations initiatives. In January of 2021, PhD candidate Daniel Matthews-Ferrero published an article titled “Towards a Humanist Environmentalism” on Spiked where stating “if we are serious about overcoming the environmental challenges that are facing us, and coming up with social solutions to social problems, then humanism must be our starting point. Meanwhile, the technology industry has the Vienna Manifesto on Digital Humanism with an implicit focus on humanism.

Next Wave Humanism

Next Wave Humanism has already begun. It is an ideological building- block of a wide-variety of sub-cultures, professional perspectives, artistic approaches and adjacent ideological movements.

Earlier waves of humanism were pre-occupied with shifting ideological attention away-from supernaturalism and theology and toward humanity. Thanks to the successfully-waged ideological battles of yesterday, Next Wave Humanism is now far less-concerned with that fight. 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.


Citations and References

  1. hiphophumanism.com
  2. https://www.hardcorehumanism.com/
  3. https://www.spiked-online.com/2021/01/11/towards-a-humanist-environmentalism/

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.

Footprints of Henry Beissel: A Conversation With A humanist Poet

ZOOM EVENT! MARCH 27, 2021

In a celebration of the humanities, Humanist Ottawa hosts this afternoon of conversation with Henry Beissel, poet, playwright, fiction writer, translator, editor and winner of the 2020 Ottawa Book Award in English Fiction for his book of poetry, “Footprints of Dark Energy“.
 
In awarding this prize, the jury said, ” Part idyll, part love song and mostly about man in nature, Henry Beissel’s Footprints of Dark Energy approaches the sublime in its epic treatment of its subjects. The meditative undertones of the shorter poems coalesce into the epigrammatic wit of the long title poem, and all are bolstered by the narration’s majestic sweep.”
 
The title poem of this collection takes us on an epic journey across past and present historical events and through spaces defined by the natural sciences, as it explores the challenges of being human in these troubled times. It is accompanied by a gathering of shorter poems that confront the dark forces in our world as they struggle for the light at the end of the tunnel. In stark imagery, these poems turn words into music to celebrate the anguish and the glory of being alive.
 
Henry Beissel is author/editor of 44 published books. Among his 22 collections of poetry are his epic “Seasons of Blood” and the lyrical “Stones to Harvest” as well as his celebration of Canada in “Cantos North” and the 364 haiku in “What if Zen Gardens …“. He lives in Ottawa with his wife Arlette Francière, the artist and literary translator. 

Feel free to forward this invitation to any of your friends.

When:            Saturday,  March 27, 2021

Time:                1:30 pm  Eastern Time

Medium:           Zoom  –  
Please register in advance for this free event at:  

https://us02web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZcrcuCtpz8vHdawRAzYyEy2q1Of6QlmmwJM 


References and Resources

  1. Featured Image Courtesy of: Humanist Ottawa

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.

Conference: Humanism and Medicine

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 by The Arnold P. Gold Foundation.


The Canadian Conference on Medical Education (CCME) 2021 will take place from Saturday, April 17-Tuesday April 20, bringing 4 full days of CCME content! Each day will bring you one of our 4 plenary sessions, 4 major sessions, live workshops, asynchronous oral sessions, and constant access to our poster sessions.

The Conference program will feature interactive workshops, pre-recorded oral sessions followed by live Q&As and poster presentations that are grouped into themes. Each theme covers current and emerging issues in medical education, varying from diversity and equity, Covid-19, health & wellness, continuing professional development to faculty development, teaching & learning, curriculum, professionalism, postgraduate affairs and more. With CCME 2021 organized around many different tracks of educational content, attendees will find ample opportunities for learning, networking and collaboration.

Given the current global situation, CCME has chosen to move from an in-person conference to a virtual one. Join the conference from anywhere in the world, from the comfort of your home for an inspirational program and impactful networking opportunities. This year, the conference theme is Making Waves: Exploring the Waters of Medical Education. Register Here



Together with the Association of Faculties of Medicine of Canada (AFMC), the Gold Foundation for Humanistic Healthcare, Canada is pleased to announce the recipient of the 2021 AFMC-Gold Humanism Award and Lecture: Dr. Marie-Ève Goyer, a leader in caring for people with addiction and an exemplar of humanism in healthcare.

Dr. Goyer is a family physician at the new Notre-Dame Hospital in the Addiction and Urban Medicine Department. She is Assistant Medical Chief of Specific Services in Homelessness, Addiction and Mental Health at CIUSSS Centre-Sud-de-l’île-de-Montréal and Scientific Director of the Clinical and Organizational Support Team in Addiction and Homelessness at the Institut universitaire sur les dépendances.

“Dr. Goyer has been an exceptional leader of humanism during the opioid crisis, during an era of surprising difficulty, caring for her patients with both deep empathy and innovative, practical solutions. As a medical educator, she multiples her success by helping illuminate humanistic values for her students,” said Dr. Richard I. Levin, President and CEO of The Arnold P. Gold Foundation. “We are delighted to join with AFMC to honor her contributions.”

Both Dr. Goyer and Dr. Jillian Horton, the 2020 AFMC-Gold Award recipient, will be honored in April at the Canadian Conference on Medical Education award ceremony, and both will be presenting at sessions. (The 2020 CCME conference was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Please see the 2020 announcement of Dr. Horton’s award.)

The AFMC Gold Humanism Award and Lecture was created in 2018 by both organizations to emphasize, reinforce and enhance the importance of humanistic qualities among medical school students and faculty. The nominations are open to physicians, nurses and other members of the health care team who practice in Canada or practitioners and researchers in health professions education.

“We are thrilled to honour Dr. Marie-Ève Goyer as this year’s AFMC-Gold Humanism Award winner,” said Dr. Geneviève Moineau, President and CEO of the AFMC. “Dr. Goyer inspires compassion and creates a humanistic learning environment, which motivates students and residents to get involved with underserved populations.”

Dr. Goyer participated in the implementation of the supervised injection services and the PROFAN naloxone program in Montreal and is responsible for the implementation of the first service for the treatment of opioid dependence via injectable medication. She is a clinical assistant professor at the University of Montreal as well as professor for the graduate microprogram in clinical addictology at the University of Sherbrooke. She is a medical advisor to the director of the Ministry of Health for the province of Quebec’s addiction and homelessness services.

She holds a Master’s degree in Community Health from the University of Montreal and the CFPC’s Certificate in Additional Competence in Addiction Medicine.

In his nomination of Dr. Goyer, Dr. Patrick Cossette, Dean, Faculty of Medicine, Université de Montréal, wrote: As evidenced by her patients, Dr. Goyer inspires benevolence and compassion towards fragile populations. Fostering cooperation among many professionals, she knows how to create a humanistic learning environment and motivate current and future physicians to get involved with underserved communities. Community care, adapted access to opioid addiction treatment, and the experience of users facing low-threshold services are examples of her daily work, reflecting a humanistic practice environment.”

Learn more about the AFMC-Gold Award and Lecture, the Gold Foundation, and AFMC.



References and Resources

  1. Featured Image Courtesy of:
  2. https://www.gold-foundation.org/
  3. https://www.gold-foundation.org/newsroom/news/dr-marie-eve-goyer-selected-as-the-2021-afmc-gold-humanism-award-recipient/
  4. https://mededconference.ca/attend/schedule-and-program
  5. https://mededconference.ca/

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 – Where Are You?

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 by San Francisco Bayview.

According to hiphophumanism.com, “Hip Hop Humanism is a not a new form of Humanism. It has always been a part of Hip Hop. Why? Throughout the years Hip Hop as brought all types of people together. It has been a platform for the people to express themselves through art and skill. Telling their stories, our stories and the stories that we refuse to be ignored. We embrace all Humanist, because we want humanity better for us all, not for all of us except… It is an all inclusive culture initiative that uses art to speak to the self that rational ideas can be reached. We believe the creative aspect of Human beings is the essence of our humanity. It is the secret weapon of our consciousness. We may be rational intelligent and morally structured beings, but we are primarily sentiment beings so where we feel, laugh, cry, dance and love lays the greatest opportunity for making Human connections. It is the realm of the creative self where we find meaning, while rationality and integrity are the traits more equipped to address the search for purpose.….” (learn more on hiphophumanism.com)


By: Jay Rene Shakur

Humanists – Where Are You?

Humanism is a rational philosophy informed by science, inspired by art and motivated by compassion. Affirming the dignity of each human being, it supports the maximization of individual liberty and opportunity consonant with social and planetary responsibility. It advocates the extension of participatory democracy and the expansion of the open society, standing for human rights and social justice. Free of supernaturalism, it recognizes human beings as a part of nature and holds that values – be they religious, ethical, social or political – have their source in human experience and culture. Humanism thus derives the goals of life from human need and interest rather than from theological or ideological abstractions and asserts that humanity must take responsibility for its own destiny. – from The Humanist Magazine

When I first heard about humanism, I wanted to research everything about it. I’m not the type of person to just jump on the bandwagon. I like to know what I’m getting myself into and know it well enough that I can support it wholeheartedly.

The more I learned about humanism and what it stood for, I realized that I was a natural humanist from birth. 

From as long as I can remember I cared about other humans just because I cared. It didn’t matter what they looked like or where they came from, I always had a heart for humanity and for the care of others.

As I continued to think more about it, I realized that hip-hop music artists who first began the craft were also humanists. They often talked about their neighborhood and giving back to it and they wanted to uplift people and give them knowledge and support for the simple fact that we were all brothers and sisters of the human race.

When I started Hip-Hop Humanism, it was based on what I believed humanism to be – supporting the betterment of humans as a whole as well as individually.

I wanted to give back in any way that I could by creating grassroots programs for children and promoting hip-hop artists that were about positivity and uplifting the human race. 

And it continued to grow. It grew into social justice and rightfully so. As a humanist I feel totally inclined to get involved in what is going on in America. It was surprising to me, however, that when I looked to my left and right, I was the only humanist there.

I expected to see humanists more involved, not only on the ground protesting but through literature of some kind, making some noticeable contribution. 

Now, if this literature exists, I have yet to see it and I would love to. However, as much as the humanist stands for, I expected to see all of us out here in the forefront. I expected to see humanism as a major leader and household name in the fight for social justice.

For what is going on in the United States, why wouldn’t humanists be the ones to really help aid this problem?

As humanists we aren’t in it because of a person’s race or their gender. It doesn’t matter their class or how much money they have in the bank. What matters is that they are human. 

As humanists we care about our fellow man, woman and child and do our part simply for them. It’s compassion and it’s love. It is human decency.

Reflecting on the ultimate demise of many Black Panthers, Bobby Seale sums up the goals of the party, goals which speak to a universal humanist agenda:

“We need activists who cross all ethnic and religious backgrounds and color lines who will establish civil and human rights for all, including the right to an ecologically balanced, pollution-free environment. We must create a world of decent human relationships where revolutionary humanism is grounded in democratic human rights for every person on earth. Those were the political revolutionary objectives of my old Black Panther Party. They must now belong to the youth of today,” said Bobby Seale, quoted by Anthony B. Pinn in “Anybody there? Reflections on African American Humanism,” published in 1997 by the UU Humanist Association.

Why have I seen no humanists out here? Where is everyone? 

Did I learn to believe that humanism is something that it isn’t? Has everyone forgotten? 

Or maybe I am supposed to take the lead and make it become what it’s supposed to have already been.

The support of the humanist thought is needed in the social justice fight. We are everywhere – from all occupations and walks of life. 

Who more to understand the plight of mankind and care about it with no agenda but for the upliftment of humans for humans? That’s what I understand humanists to be. 

Was I wrong? Well, if I was wrong, dear old humanist, please be prepared for a revamp of what we do.

Signed,

The New Humanist

Jay Rene, founder of Hip Hop Humanism, documentarian and wife of imprisoned writer Kwame Teague, can be reached on Instagram at @thejayrene, by email at hiphophumanismhr@gmail.com and online at www.hiphophumanism.com.

Citations, References And Other Reading

  1. Featured Photo Courtesy of:
  2. https://sfbayview.com/2021/03/humanists-where-are-you/
  3. www.hiphophumanism.com
  4. https://graylinemiami.com/blog/miamis-wynwood-art-district/

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.

Humanist Canada 2021 Student Essay Contest

Humanist Canada

Humanist Canada, a national voice for humanism in Canada has announced the return of its (third annual) student essay contest for 2021. With thousands of dollars in prizes (for both English and French language essays) and a far more open field, this year’s contest design is far more inclusive and inviting!

You may want to spread the word!

The 2021 contest deadline has been set as May 21, 2021 and the organizers have provided a Frequently Asked Questions page for those who may have questions.

In 2020, Humanist Canada had a designated theme (Religion and Humanism in Education) that students were asked to write upon. On the current announcement there does not appears to be a theme. Instead, the organizers have provide the guidance that recommended topics include:

  1. Humanism and society (e.g., religious schools, blasphemy laws, climate change, etc.)
  2. Humanism and well-being (e.g., sexual and reproductive healthdying with dignity, etc.)
  3. Another Humanist issue (e.g., issues discussed in Humanist International’s Freedom of Thought report https://fot.humanists.international/countries/americas-northern-america/canada/)

This seems to be sufficiently broad to encourage any number of submissions – particularly in light of the uniquely-worded definition of humanism that appears on the contest FAQ page: “Humanism is a dynamic way of life that is guided by rational thought, inspired by music and art and motivated by ethics, compassion and fairness.

One of Humanist Canada’s suggested themes for the 2021 Student Essay Contest

Another change in the competition since 2020 appears to be who the competition is open to. In 2020, Humanist Canada stated that “We welcome Canadian high school students to submit their strongest ideas, thoughts, and arguments to us.” For 2021, the competition seems to have been opened up with wider eligibility criteria:

  • Anyone enrolled in a Canadian educational institution/ Canadian citizen studying abroad
  • Junior Category: 17 years old and younger on May 21, 2021
  • Senior Category: 18-25 years old on May 21, 2021

In addition, the competition expects to award prizes in each of two streams – English and French. Wow! Talk about opening up the field.

There is a contest submission form on the Humanist Canada website. This is a sweet opportunity for some talented students to earn some much-needed tuition money or to launch themselves on a writing career!


About Humanist Canada

Humanist Canada (HC) promotes education and awareness of humanism. We are a resource for secular groups and causes across Canada. We support the advancement of scientific, academic, medical, and human rights efforts.


Citations, References And Other Reading

  1. Featured Photo Courtesy of : https://www.thefire.org/get-involved/student-network/
  2. https://www.humanistcanada.ca/programs/essay-contest/faqs/
  3. https://www.humanistcanada.ca/programs/essay-contest/

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.

MARCH 2021 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’ve had almost half of the views we had for all of 2020! You can help!

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 Review: A Humanist Recommends….

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

The Vienna Manifesto on Digital Humanism

In a 2015 article on gartner.com, Christy Pettey wrote an important article titled Embracing Digital Humanism. The article states, ” By 2020, our planet will be home to 30 billion things with embedded intelligence combined with nearly 8 billion smart devices. That means by 2020, there will be a ratio of approximately six intelligent devices/things for every human on the planet. In a world of digital business, IT leaders will need to orchestrate all these new devices, new data streams and new experiences to create value. But what principles will these IT leaders apply? The emerging digital world requires human-centric digital leadership.” That last sentence is an important concept to have formulated and launched and bears significant attention and therefore repetition:

The emerging digital world requires human-centric digital leadership.

Pettey then continued by providing a definition of digital humanism as “the notion that people are the central focus in the manifestation of digital businesses and digital workplaces.” As we will see, the concept has broadened since 2015, but this was an important conceptual milestone for humanism and for humanity. For those interested in the ethical and philosophical advancement of humanist ideas, digital humanism is a significant developing field for exploration.

Before we get to the manifesto, let’s also detour to Martin Recke’s article on the NEXT website wherein Recke suggests that digital humanism “stands for the shift away from computer-literate people to people-literate technology.” Recke also provides some useful differentiation between digital humanism and digital humanities; the latter seems to be most easily reduced to humanities practiced and/or studied via digital technologies and media.

Recke finished his primer on digital humanism by writing “Seen this way, Digital Humanism refers to the age-old concern to put humankind, in all its aspects, at the centre of our work. The early, 14th century humanists started a cultural revolution that peaked in the Renaissance era. Maybe it is time for a new cultural revolution, a new Renaissance. Or is it already happening?

Digital Humanism: Informatics in Times of COVID-19, one of Dighum’s many online seminars on their YouTube Channel.

And now we arrive a Vienna, May 2019 when the Vienna Manifesto for Digital Humanism was published. Below, we reproduce the manifesto as we found it on the Dighum website. The bolded text is original to the Dighum site while the underlined text is our emphasis.

Are you a current or aspiring digital humanism journalist, academic or professional? We want your articles on humanistfreedoms.com.


“The system is failing” – stated by the founder of the Web, Tim Berners-Lee – emphasizes that while digitalization opens unprecedented opportunities, it also raises serious concerns: the monopolization of the Web, the rise of extremist opinions and behavior orchestrated by social media, the formation of filter bubbles and echo chambers as islands of disjoint truths, the loss of privacy, and the spread of digital surveillance. Digital technologies are disrupting societies and questioning our understanding of what it means to be human. The stakes are high and the challenge of building a just and democratic society with humans at the center of technological progress needs to be addressed with determination as well as scientific ingenuity. Technological innovation demands social innovation, and social innovation requires broad societal engagement.

This manifesto is a call to deliberate and to act on current and future technological development. We encourage our academic communities, as well as industrial leaders, politicians, policy makers, and professional societies all around the globe, to actively participate in policy formation. Our demands are the result of an emerging process that unites scientists and practitioners across fields and topics, brought together by concerns and hopes for the future. We are aware of our joint responsibility for the current situation and the future – both as professionals and citizens.

Today, we experience the co-evolution of technology and humankind. The flood of data, algorithms, and computational power is disrupting the very fabric of society by changing human interactions, societal institutions, economies, and political structures. Science and the humanities are not exempt. This disruption simultaneously creates and threatens jobs, produces and destroys wealth, and improves and damages our ecology. It shifts power structures, thereby blurring the human and the machine.

Computer Scientists Create Most Accurate Digital Human ...

The quest is for enlightenment and humanism. The capability to automate human cognitive activities is a revolutionary aspect of computer science / informatics. For many tasks, machines surpass already what humans can accomplish in speed, precision, and even analytic deduction. The time is right to bring together humanistic ideals with critical thoughts about technological progress. We therefore link this manifesto to the intellectual tradition of humanism and similar movements striving for an enlightened humanity.

Like all technologies, digital technologies do not emerge from nowhere. They are shaped by implicit and explicit choices and thus incorporate a set of values, norms, economic interests, and assumptions about how the world around us is or should be. Many of these choices remain hidden in software programs implementing algorithms that remain invisible. In line with the renowned Vienna Circle and its contributions to modern thinking, we want to espouse critical rational reasoning and the interdisciplinarity needed to shape the future.

We must shape technologies in accordance with human values and needs, instead of allowing technologies to shape humans. Our task is not only to rein in the downsides of information and communication technologies, but to encourage human-centered innovation. We call for a Digital Humanism that describes, analyzes, and, most importantly, influences the complex interplay of technology and humankind, for a better society and life, fully respecting universal human rights.

In conclusion, we proclaim the following core principles:

  • Digital technologies should be designed to promote democracy and inclusion. This will require special efforts to overcome current inequalities and to use the emancipatory potential of digital technologies to make our societies more inclusive.
  • Privacy and freedom of speech are essential values for democracy and should be at the center of our activities. Therefore, artifacts such as social media or online platforms need to be altered to better safeguard the free expression of opinion, the dissemination of information, and the protection of privacy.
  • Effective regulations, rules and laws, based on a broad public discourse, must be established. They should ensure prediction accuracy, fairness and equality, accountability, and transparency of software programs and algorithms.
  • Regulators need to intervene with tech monopolies. It is necessary to restore market competitiveness as tech monopolies concentrate market power and stifle innovation. Governments should not leave all decisions to markets.
  • Decisions with consequences that have the potential to affect individual or collective human rights must continue to be made by humans. Decision makers must be responsible and accountable for their decisions. Automated decision making systems should only support human decision making, not replace it.
  • Scientific approaches crossing different disciplines are a prerequisite for tackling the challenges ahead. Technological disciplines such as computer science / informatics must collaborate with social sciences, humanities, and other sciences, breaking disciplinary silos.
  • Universities are the place where new knowledge is produced and critical thought is cultivated. Hence, they have a special responsibility and have to be aware of that.
  • Academic and industrial researchers must engage openly with wider society and reflect upon their approaches. This needs to be embedded in the practice of producing new knowledge and technologies, while at the same time defending the freedom of thought and science.
  • Practitioners everywhere ought to acknowledge their shared responsibility for the impact of information technologies. They need to understand that no technology is neutral and be sensitized to see both potential benefits and possible downsides.
  • A vision is needed for new educational curricula, combining knowledge from the humanities, the social sciences, and engineering studies. In the age of automated decision making and AI, creativity and attention to human aspects are crucial to the education of future engineers and technologists.
  • Education on computer science / informatics and its societal impact must start as early as possible. Students should learn to combine information-technology skills with awareness of the ethical and societal issues at stake.

We are at a crossroads to the future; we must go into action and take the right direction!


Citations, References And Other Reading

  1. Featured Photo Courtesy of : https://www.imeche.org/news/news-article/the-human-s-digital-twin
  2. https://dighum.ec.tuwien.ac.at/
  3. https://www.gartner.com/smarterwithgartner/embracing-digital-humanism/
  4. https://nextconf.eu/2017/11/what-is-digital-humanism/
  5. https://www.cioreview.com/cioviewpoint/going-digitaldigital-humanism-design-thinking-operating-principle-nid-26810-cid-7.html
  6. https://www.engineering.com/story/what-is-the-digital-twin-and-why-should-simulation-and-iot-experts-care
  7. https://arts.uottawa.ca/en/programs/digital-humanities
  8. Image: https://sputniknews.com/science/201705021053202821-3D-facial-modelling-recognition/
  9. https://futurism.com/the-next-stage-of-evolution-how-will-the-human-species-evolve
  10. image: https://inhabitat.com/the-first-humans-were-smaller-and-scrappy-new-study-shows/

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.

CANADIAN PARLIAMENTARY PETITION e-3114:

In our January 2021 Call for Submissions, we asked for articles in consideration of “Contemporary Humanism’s Biggest Priorities and Challenges for 2021“. In Canada, two leading humanist organizations, Centre For Inquiry Canada (CFIC) and Humanist Canada announced their backing of Parliamentary e-Petition 3114.

The meat of this e-Petition, which was opened for signatures on January 25, 2021, is a call upon Canada’s Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship to change the policy regarding Less Complex Claims to include atheists in the list of people eligible for the status, so that they will be treated equally with those people belonging to the religions currently listed in the Less Complex Claims policy.

While you will find the text of the e-Petition via the link to the e-Petition’s government website (above), we have provided the text at the bottom of this article.

Canada’s system of Parliamentary e-Petitions was introduced in December of 2015. The e-Petition system follows the same principles as paper petitions, but with particular procedural rules in place for the digital age. These rules include, but are not limited to:

  • the petitioners completes a petition form (250 word maximum) based on the classic model on the government website
  •  the petitioners submit names and contact information of at least five individuals who support the process
  • the e-petition must be sponsored by a Member of Parliament
  • when an e-petition has cleared all preliminary screening, it is published and remains open for signature for 120 days
  • individuals who sign an e-petition must provide their contact information, confirm that they are a resident of Canada or a Canadian citizen living outside of Canada
  • e-petitions that have a minimum of 500 valid signatures are sent to the sponsoring Member of Parliament for presentation to the House of Commons

In an email we received from Centre For Inquiry Canada, we learned that CFIC’s involvement in the e-Petition is tied to their involvement in assisting atheist and humanist refugees. Currently, CFIC is “supporting Omer (a pseudonym) [a refugee from Pakistan] while he waits to come to Canada. In 2011, after a heated debate about religion with a friend, Omer was abducted and beaten by five men. Omer was sexually assaulted, his finger was cut off, and the abductors used a burning cigarette to write Tauba (“repent”) on his arm.” CFIC has been involved in assisting atheist refugees since 2015 when it led a successful campaign to support another atheist targeted for attack, Raihan Abir.

CFIC also appears to have been tracking Canada’ e-Petition system since the system was launched. In a 2016 article on the CFIC website, the organization states: “Some of these e-petitions will fail to garner the support they require to justify a response by Parliament; others will be ill-timed to existing legislation (e.g. the physician assisted death petitions above) and as identified by the limited responses by Parliament to date, a great many that do reach Parliament are likely to be dismissed, shuffled to the side or otherwise punted by the politicians.  It is possibly, however, that some e-petitions may result in policy change.  At minimum, these e-petitions offer an opportunity to communicate directly to Parliament on federal issues such as Canada’s blasphemous libel law or other federal policy.  As leading secular citizens of Canada – it is a process which CFIC and its members should monitor and participate in.”

CFIC and Humanist Canada were leading organizers of e-Petition 382, opposing Canada’s blasphemous libel law in 2016. The two organizations were essential to garnering 7406 signatures on the e-Petition. The targeted section of the Criminal Code was repealed in 2018.

As of February 17, 2021, e-Petition 3114 has collected 1139 signatures and remains open for signature through to April 25, 2021.

The Member of Parliament whose name currently appears with e-Petition 3114 is Nathaniel Erskine-Smith from the Beaches—East York riding.

It will be interesting to observe whether CFIC and Humanist Canada release further education regarding the Parliamentary e-Petition process and the particular regulation that e-Petition 3114 targets. At this time, it is not clear whether either organization has developed a related position paper or policy brief on the matter. It is also not yet clear whether the national leaders of these organizations are actively engaged with their provincial and local counterpart organizations to raise awareness and action on the issues in Canada. Nor whether this may be a part of international partnerships regarding atheist, humanist and apostate refugees. We welcome an opportunity to publish any articles that may be made available.

Changing government policy or federal law is a significant challenge in any country. As may be the case with the Less Complex Claims policy, strategic targets for change may also be an important part of furthering and fostering humanism around the globe.


Petition to the House of Commons in Parliament assembled

Whereas:

  • Atheists are persecuted in several countries both by government and the public;
  • Atheist persecution can result in serious injury, imprisonment, or death at the hands of family members, street mobs, or governments;
  • Some countries, including Saudi Arabia, label all atheists as terrorists: this alone should not disqualify them for refugee status;
  • The Supreme Court of Canada has ruled several times that the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantees the right to freedom from religion as much as the right to freedom of religion, a standard which applies to refugees as well as citizens;
  • Atheists are denied access to the Less Complex Claims Policy of Canada because they are excluded from the list of those who qualify, all of whom are members of a religion; and
  • This is an urgent matter because the lives of several atheists are currently in danger while awaiting their refugee hearings, which would be avoided if atheists were included in the less complex claims process.

We, the undersigned, residents of Canada, call upon the Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship to change the policy regarding Less Complex Claims to include atheists in the list of people eligible for the status, so that they will be treated equally with those people belonging to the religions currently listed in the Less Complex Claims policy.



Citations, References And Other Reading

  1. Featured Photo Courtesy of : https://www.dreamstime.com/royalty-free-stock-images-immigration-canada-close-up-concept-image33437539
  2. https://petitions.ourcommons.ca/en/Petition/Details?Petition=e-3114
  3. https://irb-cisr.gc.ca/en/legal-policy/policies/Pages/instructions-less-complex-claims.aspx
  4. https://petitions.ourcommons.ca/en/Home/About
  5. HOUSE OF COMMONS PROCEDURE AND PRACTICEThird Edition, 2017 Edited by Marc Bosc and André Gagnon
  6. https://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/world/couple-finds-sanctuary-in-canada-to-escape-killings-of-writers-in-bangladesh/article27890972/
  7. https://centreforinquiry.ca/canadas-new-parliamentary-e-petition-system/
  8. https://centreforinquiry.ca/parliamentary-e-petition-opposing-canadas-blasphemy-law/
  9. https://www.jpierimmigration.com/streamlined-process-less-complex-refugee-claims
  10. https://atheist-refugees.com/en/the-foundation-story-ranas-escape/

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.

February 2021 Call for Submissions

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

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
  • Humanism and Global Population
  • At Home with a Humanist: Stories from the Lockdown
  • 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
  • Book Review: A Humanist Recommends….

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