How a Humanistic Perspective Changes Everything

To me, Humanism is all about compassion for my fellow humans.  This compassion isn’t always easy to muster given that my fellow humans aren’t always all that wonderful. Sometimes they are downright annoying, especially if you work in an office with cubicles and you can’t shut them out!

So what do I do when the ideal – humans are wonderful and deserving of respect and dignity meets up with the reality that is my fellow flawed humans?

First, I remind myself that I am also a flawed fellow human.  While I don’t normally quote scripture I like to remind myself of what Jesus said about those without sin casting the first stone. I need to be humble.  I am flawed and annoying too and if I cast stones, they will probably and rightly come right back at me.

Then I try to feel compassion for the annoying person despite my annoyance at them. I have no idea why they do what they do. I have no idea what their childhood was like. They can’t help it if their voice sounds like nails on a chalkboard. That’s my problem. Not theirs.. Perhaps I should cut them some slack for not being perfect.  After all, would I want someone complaining about my voice or some other aspect of myself I can’t really change? No.

Finally, I take a deep breath and remind myself that being a good person means being a nice person and I do my best to find ways to resolve my anxiety without unnecessarily or negatively impacting others. This is on me, not them.

For me, a humanistic perspective helps me to stop focusing on changing others and focus instead on changing myself. And I do this, by focusing on the other person.

One of my friends defines humanism as the art of seeing yourself in the lives of others. I think that’s a really powerful concept. It’s a variation on do unto others, but deeper. I can see myself in others so I can see that this other person is fully human just like I am.  And it’s this awareness of other people are real, that changes everything.

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