Humanists are Human Too

Clay Duke opens fire on the Bay County School Board
Apparently the Florida gunman who opened fire on the Bay County School Board in Florida claimed on his Facebook page that he was a Humanist. He was also diagnosed as being bi-polar and had spent time in prison on a stalking conviction. In other words, he was a human who, despite his best intentions, wasn’t thinking clearly. This much is obvious because people who are thinking clearly don’t take school boards hostage as a way to commit suicide.

I have no idea if he was a Humanist or not. My approach is that people are what they say they are. The important lesson is that being a Humanist doesn’t mean you are perfect. It only means you are striving to be a better person. A process made all the more difficult when coping with a mental illness as this guy was.

Humanists strive to use reason and logic to solve our problems and we try to keep our strong emotions under control when making our decisions. We try to but that doesn’t mean we will always succeed. We also strive to be compassionate with everyone we meet. And again, the fact that we try to be compassionate doesn’t mean we will always succeed. Being logical, rational and compassionate all the time is hard to do, even if you are sane.

The fact of the matter is that we Humanists are humans too. As my dad always said – no group corners the market on stupidity. We have the same struggles and challenges that everyone else has. But just because we won’t always succeed in keeping our basic instincts at bay doesn’t mean we shouldn’t at least try. We have to try. That’s the point of being a Humanist.

The phrase that keeps sticking in my mind is “there but for the grace of god go I.” I was lucky enough to be born without any mental illness. I am able to think clearly most of the time (except when I am super hungry and my blood sugars are low). The thought of lashing out in violence simply never occurs to me. For me, being a Humanist is easy. For others, through no fault of their own, it is obviously a bit more of a struggle. But I would argue that regardless of your starting point, this is a struggle worth waging. Even though you might not always succeed; when you do, the world is made a little bit better. And that is something worth striving for.

1 comment:

  1. I like your take on this. Stressing the random nature of birth and circumstances is right on. I share your opinion that we make moment-by-moment choices or attempts to change (practice) no matter where we start from.


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