Humanism is the study of humanity. Specifically, it is the applied study of what it means to be a good human being. It is primarily concerned with helping us become ethical, compassionate and responsible people. But that isn’t the only reason why Humanism is so aptly named.
One of the main reasons we call our philosophy Humanism is because our primary interest and concern as a philosophy is the welfare of our fellow human beings.
In other words, we are focused on solving human problems and trying to make life better for everyone. We want to be happy and we would like everyone else to be happy too. We choose to live ethical lives of personal fulfillment because we aspire to the greater good of humanity.
But there is more to it then that. Central to the Humanist philosophy is the recognition that each of our fellow humans on the planet are, you know, human.
Every single one of the estimated seven billion plus humans you share earth with are honest to goodness real people. They have real families, real dreams, real desires, real passions and real problems just like you do.
Once you understand this. And I mean, really understand it, you begin to understand what motivates Humanists. One of the key reasons we consider ourselves to be Humanists is because we recognize our common humanity.
And this recognition changes how we view our place in the world. We can’t just brush off our fellow humans as inconsequential.
Nor can we treat them as “others” we don’t need to bother with just because we haven’t met them personally. No human is inconsequential. We are all real people with real emotions who deserve a basic level of respect and consideration.
When Humanists talk about the inherent dignity and worth of every person, what we are really doing is acknowledging that each and every one of the individual humans on the planet is real.
We are connected to them through our common humanity and we feel a deep sense of responsibility towards each of them as a result.
Now, you might think that it would be a burden to consider all 7 billion plus humans as worthy of independent consideration and compassion. Humanists do not. The acknowledgment of our interconnectedness and our interdependency is a source of true inspiration.
We rarely feel alone in the universe because we aren’t. We view ourselves as connected to one another and to all the other life on our planet in a profound and deeply satisfying way.
Long story short, we put the Human in Humanism because we want to be a good human that helps other humans because, ultimately, we are all human.
Jennifer Hancock, is the former executive director for the Humanists of Florida Association and is the author of a new book, “The Humanist Approach to Happiness: Practical Wisdom.” She can be found on the web at www.jen-hancock.com.