Humanism: An Inspirational Worldview
by Joe Goodson
In high school I first began to think differently about life. I had been raised in a traditional religious setting, and started to question many aspects of reality. A few years later in my second year of college, I discovered that my outlook on life was called humanism.
Humanism is a worldview that affirms that individuals have the right and responsibility to give meaning and shape to their own lives, and to develop their greatest potential. It bases morality on reason and compassion, and upon how our actions affect the quality of people's lives. It stands for valuing and enjoying life here and now, and for making this world the best of all possible places. Humanism is silent on the question, "Is there a god?" although most humanists tend to be atheist or agnostic.
Throughout the world and the U.S., many humanist organizations abound, and a majority of them focus on rationalism. They have used reason and science to critically examine the bible, to support the separation of church and state, to fight for human rights, and to debunk creationism.
Nevertheless, during life's crucial moments, pure rationalism will not help us.
Rationalism will not give us the strength to deal with divorce, betrayal, or the death of a loved one.
Rationalism will not motivate us to carry on when everything seems hopeless and lost.
Rationalism will not rid us of our guilt when we've been involved in some shameful mess.
Rationalism will not break the monotony and loneliness that our daily lives can sometimes bring.
Only one thing can deliver all of these to our lives plus a whole lot more. It is inspiration.
I have found humanism to be an absolutely amazing source of inspiration. Humanism has taught and will continue to teach me a variety of priceless lessons concerning how to live and who I am.
I have learned that, by nature, people are much stronger than they think, and possess many abilities beyond what they've ever imagined. It is up to each individual to recognize his/her potential within, and to utilize it to the fullest. This realization produces an overwhelming sense of freedom. Anything is possible with motivation. Without it, one can do nothing. Humanism leaves no room for excuses. Either he is stimulated to live up to his true potential at something, or he is not.
This involves a strong degree of faith in oneself. Faith can be defined as a synonym for hope and optimism. I have learned through experience that if I have this type of faith, it makes me happier and gives me the will to achieve what I desire. This faith is based on its usefulness to improving quality of life. It has benefited me psychologically without being irrational or harmful to others. Therefore I find it practical.
Healthy interpersonal relationships provide another major source of humanistic inspiration. These give us a strong sense of belonging, identity, and love. They allow us to learn from one another, and are a great source for emotional support.
Personal hobbies also supply significant humanistic satisfaction. Music, movies, fitness, socializing, reading, writing, and just getting out and enjoying nature can be wonderful stress relievers and add excitement and adventure to our lives.
Next, one of the best ways to get an incredible sense of the human spirit is to make a contribution to this world. You see, 50 years after we die, no one will remember our large sums of monetary wealth. No one will recall our giant mansions, fancy cars, expensive jewelry, beautiful women, and not even our good looks. What everyone will remember forever is not what we receive, but what we give. What counts is the difference we make in people's lives. It is serving our communities; being strong leaders; putting out positive messages for others; making scientific discoveries; or just being good, loving friends, family members, or partners in relationships. It brings an awesome sense of gratification to know that our legacies will live on for years and years after we pass away.
Finally, as strange as this may sound, the idea of no afterworld can also be inspiring. This allows us to value this life as much as possible, and to try to get the most out of it while we can. This offers the perfect justification for remaining active and not getting bored. We have no time for apathy.
Most people today are not searching for a rational or logical worldview. They want a philosophy that speaks to them personally, and has the greatest positive influence on their well-being. It is wonderful to stress humanistic faith in ourselves and in each other. It is very rewarding to know that we can and must help ourselves.
All in all, humanism certainly can provide an effective source of encouragement for us to lead fuller lives, to deal with crucial times, and to continually improve ourselves. Humanism is an absolutely amazing source of inspiration, and if you find yourself in agreement with this philosophy, just remember that you are not alone.
© Joe Goodson
Student at the Oklahoma State University
February 18, 2000