Thursday, January 03, 2013

Humanists Absent in Times of Crisis

My back yard

In "In a Crisis, Humanists Seem Absent," Samuel Freedman asks "Where were the humanists? At a time when the percentage of Americans without religious affiliation is growing rapidly, why did the “nones,” as they are colloquially known, seem so absent?"

Humanists lag behind religious leaders who have their "boots on the ground," "a continuing presence in communities, a commitment to tactile rather than virtual engagement with people who are hurting." Newtown has shown this.

What humanists lack, comparatively, is community. Humanists tend to be "cowboy individualists."

I remember meeting with a local humanist leader, inviting him to serve with me in our comunity soup kitchen. He declined, preferring his internet presence. Of course that's a small sample, from which one can conclude nothing. But Freedman's essay shows it is representative of the inability of humanists to collectively help.

Perhaps humanism's problem is this: it's hard to form a movement around a negative. A "none" will be at a disadvantage to a "some." By definition, "nones" have nothing to give; "somes" have something to give. Who would you call upon in a crisis?