In this Workshop we go back home to the topic of Humanism itself, to get 2013 off to a big start. There'll be formal and informal discussions, films and readings.
What does Humanism continue to mean for us in the 21st Century? In the last century Humanists and Secularists shared in major achievements - civil marriages, abortion law reform, legalisation of homosexuality, divorce without guilt, abolition of the death penalty and environmental solutions.
Much more remains to be done. But, as we discovered with Feminism at the January Meetup, a new generation can take old achievements for granted. The resurgency of the religious right in America, and even Australia, is obvious enough as a problem but there are many subtler threats to rights achieved and new concerns on the horizon.
Many discussions on social issues by atheists break down when someone says 'atheism is just the lack of belief in gods'. Humanism isn't a binding doctrine but it does combine philosophy with community and concern - warm and fuzzy in the best sense - and allows for a kind of atheism plus. Atheism plus community and heritage. Atheism plus social activism. Atheism plus environment. Atheism plus rational spiritualities. Even a fuzzier kind of atheism.
As one of our members said: "Humanism, to me, is the exploration of human wellbeing in general; how we can make the best of what we have in the most rational way is perhaps the only subject worth talking about as human beings, considering our fragility and annoyingly brief lifespans." Another member remarked: "Human culture, ingenuity, knowledge, skills, work, goodwill and motivation are all humans have to deal with 'whatever happens', so we need to value and develop these to the best quality we can".
Many members say they'd like to 'participate in meetings where people express their knowledge and thoughts' and 'talk to people who think!' They're interested in 'humanist teachings', 'intellectual discussion' and 'respectful interaction with others who are at least attempting to live consciously'. They want 'a space where I can talk about atheism, feminism, social justice and all the issue that move me' or just 'meeting and conversing with like minded people' to 'hear different views on humanism and what it means today'.
It's time to get your personal 2013 underway, and share in making this Meetup meet your own needs by getting involved. I always remember a cartoon with Snoopy the dog and his little bird hugging, captioned 'the only way to have a friend, is to be one'. In the same way, you need to participate in building a community if you want one to be there when you need it.
This Workshop is for those new to Humanism, seeking to renew Humanism, having new perspectives on Humanism, or making new friendships in a Humanist community. We need to work together to define the key term binding our community.