so what is humanism?
'Humanism stresses the fact that we human beings are capable of changing the world. We have the power to make a difference in our lives individually and collectively without recourse to some outside force.'
Nigerian Humanists founder, Leo Igwe
Humanists are non-religious people who shape our own lives in the here and now because we believe it's the only life we have.
We believe we can can live ethical and fulfilling lives on the basis of reason and humanity.
We trust scientific method, evidence, and reason to discover truths about the universe. We place human welfare and happiness at the centre of our ethical decision making.
A lot of people share humanist values without even knowing the term.
Humanism and me
Why I became a Humanist
I realised I was a humanist when I was arranging my own wedding in 1994.
We knew what we didn't want:
- a church service, which we didn't believe in
- a clinical registry office or time restrictions
- a conventional sit-down wedding breakfast
- a lavish honeymoon which we couldn't afford
We knew we wanted something unique but affordable. The most important thing was to have our closest friends and family witness our marriage. We both love the environment so it was important for us to be as sustainable as possible.
So, we found a humanist celebrant who agreed to marry us in a village pub garden. The caterer used local produce and we kept the food rustic. The cake was handmade by a friend and my bouquet was made by my sister-in-law. We bought outfits we would wear again. It was perfect! We worked with the celebrant to write our ceremony just the way we wanted it. He listened to our ideas and we told him our story which he incorporated into his script. We discovered we shared the same values as him and these were humanist values.
That was 25 years ago and we still hold the same beliefs. The vows we wrote and the promises we made have served us well because they were personal and meaningful. We have lived our married life with these values. Each day, we try to live an ethical life and to be happy.
When our daughter was growing up, many of her friends were of Christian faith. So she would often ask 'Mummy, what are we again?'
It was important to me that we enabled her to discover her own beliefs. So I responded 'Well, I'm a humanist, but you can be whatever you want to be'.
As an adult, she is now one of the most empathetic and intelligent people I know, with a sound moral compass and thirst for life. She isn't a member of Humanists UK, but she certainly shares their values and I'm proud to know her.