Tag Archives: humanist

“Make it So”

I wrote a while back about the way that science fiction provides examples to us of what a world without religion looks like.   It’s an important point to think on since there’s quite a lot of hullaballoo surrounding the thought that atheists or agnostics can’t be nice or get along and are particularly evil so a future filled with such people is certainly vile, discordant, and unlivable.

Not so.  Many science fiction movies and television shows exemplify that humankind can actually thrive where religion is absent and reason prevails in it’s stead.  Is there evil?  Yep.  We can’t escape it because it is part of ourselves, but we do see in each instance that love or relationships or family overcome and save the day, and tellingly, no supreme being is needed.  (By the way, we really don’t know how else to write the story except that good always defeats evil – such an optimistic species).

With the release of the newest Star Trek movie, a fellow writer picked up on this theme and discusses it in this Atlantic article.   It is hopeful in this time of turbulence – especially as an American watching the current election cycle – to see a standard held for us all to claim:  we can rely on each other, as well as our own reasoning, to create a decent society.

May we ‘make it so.’

Yours,

Frankie

 

Advertisements

The Doctor is My Hero

It’s Saturday which means I’m in for another new episode of Dr. Who.  I’m the kind of Whovian that has her DVR scheduled to record it  and my bestie is often over for dinners on Saturday nights to watch the newest episode with me (I’ve simply got to come up with a special dinner menu for the Christmas episode out of respect for the return of Professor River Song – it’s bad, I know).  In the long list of heroes we humans are so creative at inventing, the Doctor provides a modern day model for unrequited compassion and a dedication to justice so perfect that he tortures his own soul for his own shortcomings.

I’ll give a bit of background before I explain.   Working from the  foundation of Joseph Campbell’s “The Hero With a Thousand Faces” beautiful book, the characters who have entertained and inspired over the millenniums all share similar traits.  Consider our modern day heroes such as Luke Skywalker and Harry Potter:  both come from meager beginnings yet they’re somehow tied and bound to the evil of their day.  Their personal bond with evil begins with some twist of childhood fate so that the rest of their lives are spent conquering the dark elements of the universe, always, always to overcome (we don’t know how to write the story any other way than to make sure good wills out – I love that about us).

badwolftardis

photo courtesy of rebloggy.com

The Doctor follows a similar plot line. His beginnings were marked with uncertainty and fear, and his path is wrought with a parallel evil that persistently challenges his patience, wit, compassion, and even causes him to question his own goodness and worth – as any decent villain should.  Yet.  He manages to overcome evil while facing his own shortcomings.  For a man who can nonchalantly say things such as “Time isn’t linear, it’s wibbly-wobbly, spacey waycey,” for a man who can hop in a machine and watch the moonrises of Jupiter, for a man who can feel all of time and space at once, The Doctor has made a decision to annhilate his own people, and this haunts him time and again.  He knows he’s had to choose between the few and the many, and he carries the guilt of the choosing.  But if there’s ever a chance to redeem himself, he seizes it without hesitation.   That’s why the Doctor is my hero: in spite of his omniscience, he’s all too human in his failings.   But even in the face of them, he chooses good over evil in the hopes that when balanced, the good is greater than the evil.  Such is the story of most of us, we should have confidence in that ;).

When the twelfth Doctor made one of his first appearances, he asks his assistant if she thought he was a good man.

“I don’t know.  But you try to be and I think that’s probably the whole point.”  The Doctor tries, he demonstrates that horrendous failings don’t have to define us, there is still good within our souls with which we can redeem ourselves.  That’s why he’s my hero.

Allonsy kids!

Frankie


No Religion: What’s to Believe In?

As we continue to progress as a species, more of us human beings are stepping from the dark archaic belief systems of religion to the bright confidence of knowledge afforded us by science.   But the shift from religion to non begs some questions:  What do we do with ourselves?  Where do we put our energy?  What’s to believe in? What becomes our focus?

From my humble perspective, it kind of seems that a default focus would be nationalism; belief in one’s nation and attention to its politics and social/economic issues.  From my humble perspective, we could use a boost in national attention to politics and social/economic issues.   But there lies a danger of jingoism, unabashed love for one’s country without regard for other nations, fervent almost blind belief that ‘my country is the best’.  In a time when we face global challenges such as health epidemics and climate change, we can’t really allow ourselves the pleasure of arrogance.  We must be able to cooperate, to admit that maybe another nation is doing something right and we might consider adjusting our own perceptions.  We are bound together by this planet and its natural laws, we have to work with one another in order to keep our species viable.  While some of our new found energy can and should be focused on national issues, it is necessary to strike a balance with how much energy we invest in our country – there are bigger ideas to focus on as well.

I heartily contend that the biggest idea should be humanism – a focus on mankind and our path of past, present, and future, our connection with one another as dictated by nature’s laws.  If we think about it, we only, always, have each other; and though cultures vary we cannot deny our bloodline and the truth that we are all brothers and sisters.  I believe we owe a certain amount of attention to our race based on this sole premise, with the spirit that we are inherently obligated as human beings to look out for our siblings. As mentioned above, our modern age forces us to examine physical global issues and international cooperation is paramount to finding solutions to these issues.   A humanist focus allows us to set aside cultural prejudices and adopt cooperative attitudes based upon the assumption that we’re all in this together.

Science appears to be the common ground for us all and I’ll assert that the growth of humanism will include many elements of the discipline.   Two plus two will always equal four and no matter where we go in the world we can speak that language to anyone. I am not claiming that science has all the answers although I’m close to agreeing with many modern thinkers who believe it does.  It certainly answers our questions best and provides a universal language with which we can speak to one another, culture set aside.   Besides providing a common language science provides a foundation for finding common solutions to the challenges we face together.  The discipline is a perfect fit with the tenants of humanism.

I’ll even go out on a limb and demonstrate that we already have a vision for the melding of science and humanism and how they work together by invoking the genre of science fiction film and writings.  There are several examples where science fiction has remarkably portended the future as far as gadgets and inventions are concerned.   Even George Orwell was prescient enough to understand that an entirely new language would evolve under political pressures.   Using science fiction as a barometer for the way humanistic tendencies might emerge, one finds an astonishing body of work that illustrates how political and even personal decisions are made based upon available evidence and facts instead of mystical, archaic texts. Pay attention next time you tune into Star Trek, or Dr. Who, or The Fifth Element.

We’ve come a long ways since the days when science and religion walked the same path of curiosity together, searching for answers to the same questions.   At some point their paths split and one has gone on to answer those questions with solid evidence.   As we continue to progress as a species and more of us also leave the anachronistic beliefs behind, we are faced with the necessity of filling the void.   Humanism does so with a neat and comfortable fit.  Here’s to our future and the place that Humanism has within it.

Yours,

Frankie


Sunrise story…….

Image

This beauty appeared a couple of days ago, when I see clouds on the horizon in the morning I know I’m in for some color and I was not disappointed.  I have a funny story about another gorgeous sunrise …. I work as a front desk clerk at a hotel and so my job in the morning is checking guests out.   One gentleman, big guy, booming voice, seventies-ish, mentioned the sunrise and that “Jesus must’ve gotten his paint brushes out this morning.”   Being an atheist, these  comments always put me in an awkward position….I must be respectful, but at the same time I don’t want to perpetuate theism…I have to come up with some way of stating the truth without  offending or condescending.   I chose silence at first, hoping we could move on somehow, but the question begged an answer and the six or seven people standing around all heard it and were awaiting my reply, probably a bit vexed at my silence.  He repeated the question again in some variant form and the best response I could come up with was, “Well, I’m a science kind of girl so when I see a sunrise like that I think of the clouds of water molecules that are reflecting the sun’s light off of them which gives them the colors we see.”   I didn’t include the fact that I also wonder incessantly at the idea that we, of all animals formed from the dust of the stars and living on this earth, can have the conscience to notice such beauty, and that I have this moment and this day to make my time count for something.   I think it would have been overload for him.  As it was, he coughed and muttered and shuffled away as I said in my
kindest voice, “Have a great day!”   We all breathed a few moments as the tension passed and then, to my delight and surprise, the woman behind him came up to check out and said to me in a low whisper “I’m with ya on the science thing.”

Have Peace Kids,

Frankie


A Human……ist Moment

I work as a front desk manager at a local hotel and the most favorite part of my job is the people I meet each day from all parts of the world and in all kinds of predicaments. Sometimes I the opportunity arises when I can make a difference in someone’s day with a kind word or a hug.  Today for example, a woman came in to check out her parents’ room.  The family had spent much of the previous night in the local E.R., where they discovered that their father’s cancer had come back and days were numbered, moments mattered. Big tears welled up as she updated me and since I know the gig (lost my own dear father to cancer) my immediate response was to walk around the counter and give her a hug.  She was truly grateful.  We chatted a few more minutes, she shared how wonderful everybody has been (I had the privilege of relaying to her that one of the E.R. doctors came in and took care of their bill) and I gave her my card with a command to come by if she needed a shoulder.  

On my ‘About’ page I claim myself to be a humanist because, well, I am a human.  Moments such as this morning are a testimony to our cooperative, compassionate nature and our ability to band together and help one another in difficult, painful predicaments.  I am at a loss to think of a better example of what being a humanist means to me.

Be Well,

Frankie

 

 


The Human Condition of Creating

One of the most endearing qualities we humans possess (to this speck of dust at least) is our passion and ability to create.  We are an amazing creature to be able to create the way we do.  We use our imagination in infinite ways to bring a new picture, or story, or gadget to realization.  But it’s not just the ways that we invent new things that make us creative – think of the way we create our ‘nests,’ by which I mean our homes.   We pay attention to every detail.  Not only do we want a specific color of curtain, it must also be the right texture. We paint trees and paw prints on the walls of our children’s rooms, with matching comforters and light switches.   Some of us even make sure the color of our Kitchenaid matches our kitchen theme.  While we’re on the subject of kitchens, there’s no greater place we love to create:  mixing new spices with traditional recipes to produce an original dish, making cupcakes in distinct flavors and colorful frostings, or adding a surprise ingredient to a tried and true soup.  One of my favorite observations about cooking is the intimacy inherent in this form of creating.  All that chopping and stirring and tending and measuring is done with care as we infuse our love with each twist of the spoon.  We don’t limit ourselves to creating in just the home however. There are the Steve Jobs of the world, the Richard Branson types who carry us forward, like da Vinci did during the renaissance.  These creators stand on the edge of everything we know and then have the tenacity (and audacity) to take us further.  Same goes for those daring astronomers and physicists who spend their dream time creating new ways for us to interpret our universe.  There are the designers who weave and sew in order that we may create a way of dressing that expresses who we are.  We owe our cultural fabric to singers and writers and painters and sculptors who somehow manage to capture a bit of the Universe for us with each stroke of the hand or movement of a note.  We owe our knowledge to those who have ever stood in front a classroom, creating an environment to challenge our minds and dig to the depths of reason.  Everywhere we look, we can observe ourselves creating in some form or another.  It is a beautiful sight to behold.

If we consider the thought a little deeper, we come to the conclusion that we can’t help but be creators.   We are born of creation itself, it is therefore in our very fiber to be creative – the old ‘acorn doesn’t fall far from the oak tree’ adage applies to us here.  If we dig deeper we can see a dynamic between the creator and the created, intimate and beautiful, a result of the fact that we are co-creating, working in tandem with the very universe that put us here.  Imagine – we are working side by side with Nature when we are creating.  Nothing is more terrible.  Nothing is more sacred.  There could be no greater act of worship.

So the next time you cook your family’s favorite meal, or dream up a new math formula, or pluck the next guitar string, or figure out a way to communicate with your sixteen year old for a minute – remember that you are creating, working with the universe, just as we were born to do.  Is there nothing more fulfilling in life?

Be Well…

Frankie


Being Human …..-ist

I describe myself as a ‘writer, thinker, humanist.’  The first two of these characteristics are inherent:  I have a passion for words, their meanings, and the limitless ways to combine them and my mind is ever questioning and curious. Being a humanist, however, took some thought.  It was a journey (a common one at that) from the myths and stories of religion to a broader understanding of my smallness in the universe, and the magic of human existence.  Somewhere along the way I fell in love with us, that is, I became a humanist.

 There is a lot to love about us I found.   Our actual existence is a feat worth mentioning for instance. Here we are, tucked away in some remote system, in one galaxy amongst a universe of zillions – and we manage to navigate our way to the top of the food chain where we’ve learned to manipulate Nature and escape our gravitational boundaries.   Our ability to walk upright, the refined development of our ‘pincer’ action (bringing together the thumb and the forefinger), and the emergence of a conscious have allowed us to plan, invent, and create like no other creature on this planet.  We’ve even managed to tame some parts of Nature order to improve our existence; horses, dogs, and agriculture for example.  We struggled through millions of years of ecological challenges in order to end up here – an immensely advanced animal.  Yeah, it’s easy to fall in love with a creature that displays such tenacity and willingness to push the boundaries.

Besides ‘just’ our existence, there are other reasons for my infatuation with humanity.  The resilience of the human spirit is an amazing trait.  Many of us have faced abuse, torture, illness, and injustice – yet we fight to live another day. Our ability to extend compassion is a rare attribute in the animal kingdom, and no animal manifests this more than us humans.  Every. Day. tales can be told of small kindnesses we share with each other:  one might help a complete stranger  retrieve a dropped something while another volunteers to babysit her best friend’s sick kid so she can go to work.  Our willingness to help one another is one of my favorite observations about us.  It gives me immense faith in our species.

Having faith in our fellow man is an integral part of being a humanist.  It is my opinion that we could use more faith in ourselves.  For some reason we seem reluctant to claim confidence in our ability to reason and do what is right. Maybe some of us haven’t fully realized our greatness within creation.  Many are still muddling around with the myths and tales of old, many of which convince us that we are inherently evil and have no redeeming value within ourselves – hard to be confident with that mindset.  The other issue is that such beliefs also insist that we deny ourselves any sense of confidence since to do so would be blasphemous against some higher being.  Yet, if we leave the old, stale narratives behind for just a minute we can observe in ourselves perhaps the finest innate characteristic of all:  we cannot help but ever come out on the side of right and good.  In all our stories, in all our movies, in the narrative of every single hero we’ve ever invented – good always overcomes evil.  Always.   We don’t know any other way to write the gig.  Sure evil has its moment, and sometimes we are led to a suspenseful scene when maybe all is lost.  But we never give up.  We never allow evil to win.  That’s why we can have faith in humanity, because we have a proven history of enabling right and good to prevail.  This is me, all doe eyed and love stupid, swept off my feet by our insistence that good always triumphs over evil.

Becoming a humanist was really quite an easy conclusion to reach.  We’ve come so far.  We’ve achieved so much.  We struggle through overwhelming circumstances and still come out victorious.   We support  and help one another.  We cannot even imagine a day when evil prevails.   I’d root for us any time, any where ….and that’s why I am a humanist.

Be Well!

Frankie