"I am a humanist, which mean, in part, that I have tried to behave decently without any expectation of rewards or punishments after I'm dead. My German-American ancestors, the earliest of whom settled in our Middle West about the time of our Civil War, called themselves "Freethinkers," which is the same sort of thing. My great grandfather Clemens Vonnegut wrote, for example, "If what Jesus said was good, what can it matter whether he was God or not?"
- Kurt Vonnegut, in God Bless You, Dr. Kevorkian (1999)
Some of my own recent ideas on humanism:
In an analogy from the world of computers, humanism is an antivirus-program. It is not an operating system like religions, who want to decide what other programs are allowed into the system. However, humanism will check and prevent hate-inducing, fear-mongering and abuse-inducing programs (ideas) from taking over the system. A humanist is free to use any other programs (ideas) that he on she sees fit.
Humanism does not diminish a person’s freedom of choice. Accepting a humanistic basic attitude will, however, normally make a person reject violence and coercion as tools for advancing his or her personal interest or ideas.
The basic ideas of humanism are a deeply buried respect for all humans and the idea of striving for a basic human equality. This is done in full knowledge of the fact that not all things that humans do deserve respect. Humans have also never been and will never be fully equal.
A humanist just does think that acting humanely also towards those that we do not like or respect is our duty as humans. A true humanist will think that the cost of treating all people humanely will be paid back with dividends right here on Earth.
(This piece refurbished on 29th of October, 2012)
Kurt Vonnegut is in Facebook at:
"Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. ( /ˈvɒnɨɡət/; November 11, 1922 – April 11, 2007) was a 20th-century American writer. His works such as Cat's Cradle (1963), Slaughterhouse-Five (1969), and Breakfast of Champions (1973) blend satire, gallows humor, and science fiction. As a citizen he was a lifelong supporter of the American Civil Liberties Union and a critical leftist intellectual. He was known for his humanist beliefs and was honorary president of the American Humanist Association."