Religion

Taboo isn't in the Humanist dictionary

Hang out with Humanists long enough and you will realize that Humanists don't have any taboos. There is nothing we explicitly prohibit and nothing we consider sacred. Our rejection of the very idea that something might be taboo is probably the most shocking aspect about our philosophy.

It isn't that we don't think things are important. We do. And it isn't that we think anything goes, because clearly, there are a lot of things we could do that would be really stupid or harmful if we did them. But we would never label such things taboo.

The response of a Humanist upon learning about a taboo is to start asking questions. We want to know why something is considered forbidden. After all, there is probably a good reason. We just want to know what that reason is.

We are genuinely curious and we really do want to know so that we don't make stupid mistakes that would harm ourselves or others through our ignorance.

When we say we are anti-taboo, what we are really saying is that we are pro-reason. We aren't opposed to learning something is a bad idea. We just want to know why it's considered bad so we can decide for ourselves if we agree or not.

When you are trying to discourage people from doing things that would be harmful, making that thing taboo isn't going to stop people from doing it. Humanists feel the best way to encourage good behavior is to teach people how to make good decisions. This is why we advocate for unrestricted access to accurate information.

For example, if you think underage drinking is taboo, you simply forbid it. But that won't stop teens from drinking. All forbidding an activity does is make it more exciting to do.

The more effective way to encourage teens to abstain from drinking is to educate them about the potential consequences of their choices, which might include a discussion about the impact alcohol has on their developing brain. In order to make good decisions, people need good information.

This is why Humanists view no topic as taboo. The more we know the better our decisions will be. We feel that taboos, however well intentioned, cause more harm than good because they withhold the reasons why something has been deemed bad in the first place.

We don't question and challenge taboos just to be jerks. We do this because we want to be ethical, compassionate and responsible people and because we want to make good decisions. To do that, we need to know the reasons why something is considered bad.

For a Humanist, taboos are taboo.

Jennifer Hancock, transforms people's lives through Humanism. She is on the web at http://www.jen-hancock.com.

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