"Mankind is not likely to salvage civilization unless he can evolve a system of good and evil which is independent of heaven and hell." - George Orwell
Are you trying to be good and make the world a better place but seems like everyone else is arguing past each other, making enemies out of people who should be friends? Are you tired of the splintering and division that weakens our society? Are you shocked by how little goodwill seems to be left in the world? Are you afraid of befriending or voicing support for someone with alternate viewpoints, for fear of being ostracized yourself?
What if we could make society better for all of us? What if:
… And what if it all got better over time, by design?
Humanist.com is a nonprofit social community based on understanding, inclusion, love, and activism. We seek to make the world a better place by creating a community where the values of Humanism are required and enforced.
Humanism is the basis for morality and the antidote to hate. It is the philosophy that we as humans can create and live by a shared morality based on the goal of decreasing suffering and improving people’s lives via improving society and each other. It’s all the stuff we all already agree is good.
Humanism is not a religion, but parts of it can be found in the cores of all of the world’s religions under the guise of “divine morality.” Take any religion and strip away the supernaturalism, the arcane behaviour prohibitions, corruption, and outgrouping and you are left with the purely reasonable Humanist ideals. What we need are tools to see past the supernatural components of religion and see, regrow, and delight in the Humanism that lies hidden beneath.
We seek to reduce net suffering and increase length and quality of life on Earth as a singular, practical, objective moral Good. Based in science and completely cognizant of the individuality involved in the judgment calls between sentience and suffering, we are united in the common idea that objectively, suffering is bad, and increasing quality and length of life is good.
We don’t ask for obedience, tithing, or even agreement (in fact, open, civil debate is what’s needed to ensure that positions are tested and improved), and we certainly don’t ask for blind faith (faith is a vice, not a virtue). We do ask that you try to be good and promote trying to be good. Specifically that means when you interact with other people on this site you ALWAYS endeavour to be civil and to see them as a whole person outside of their specific opinions. We hope you take that mentality to other networks and indeed your daily life. We invite all who wish to build the society we want, to join, to belong, to be good, and be happy!
There is only one primary rule in Humanism: try to advance Goodness by increasing well being and reducing suffering. Humanism focuses on how we treat others and ourselves, and uses the concept of “There is Good in everyone… even if it’s wrapped in problems” as a way to equalize us as teammates on the side of Good.
Humanism teaches us to:
The basis for these teachings come from understanding the human condition. Contrary to religion’s fixed dogma (see "What is Dogma?" below), Humanism provides a logical, reality-based morality designed intelligently to reunite humanity by identifying a set of “virtues” (kindness, charity, generosity, skepticism, forgiveness, etc.) and “vices” (blind faith, malice, bigotry, oppression, etc) that are rooted in objective truths. That is, good can be proven to be good, and bad can be proven to be bad, because of the way they affect quality and length of life of all people (and even other animals). It is our job as Humanists to constantly reconsider the goodness of our actions.
Our “undogma” provides a logical and defensible moral structure to live by and to teach children that will lead to fuller, more enriched, and longer lives. Logic-based morality is easy to understand and free of vacuous arguments like using “Mysterious Ways” or “or else you’ll burn in Hell” to explain inaccuracies or inconsistencies (why did the benevolent God create evil and suffering, why doesn’t God just kill or stop Satan, etc), because there are no inconsistencies to sidestep!
If someone questions a tenet of Humanism (e.g, “it’s good to reduce suffering” ), the discussion begins, and unlike dogmatic religion, Humanism evolves with society’s morality, which is why Humanists support such modern ideals as civil rights, gender equality, and the separation of church and state - concepts religions still fight because their dogma is unchangeable (and grows further from societal norms over time).
Humanism teaches us to “Humanize” each other. Humans are social animals, like chimps, dolphins, whales, and other higher forms of life. As such, we have evolved the need to feel empathy, concern, and compassion for our fellow human because we, as a group, survive longer when we care about each other and gather resources as a group.
However, the same evolutionary forces that gave us empathy and sympathy for each other also gave us “outgrouping” - that is, tribalism. When a tribe competes for resources as a tribe, everyone in the tribe benefits, but they benefit more if they don’t care about taking resources from competing tribes, even if those competing tribes suffer and die as a result. In other words, it’s easier to live when a tribe has cohesiveness in and internal compassion, but sees the other tribes as less than human and does not regard them with the same care.
The fuel for tribalism is a collective fear, mistrust and hate of a common enemy. If the enemy can be dehumanized, it is far easier for the tribe members to collectively view the opposers as neither having nor deserving kind or even humane treatment. The tribalism instinct gives us the propensity to dehumanize people from outside our societies (or social circles), which makes it much easier to overlook our compassion and empathy, which in turn can lead to war and other atrocities.
Humanism teaches that most people, even those with distasteful opinions, are complex people with their own life experiences and perspectives.
Humanization is the antidote to hate because it inoculates against prejudice and hostile outgrouping including bullying, sexism, racism, misogyny, ageism, homophobia, transphobia, ableism, and xenophobia
Humanists realize that if we demonize, profile, or categorize people as evil, bad, or “just stupid” even as they espouse wrong or horrible views, that they will shut down and harden their views, and not listen/hear/understand our points and reasoning. They will not learn, and we will not succeed in forwarding the cause of Good.
Instead, it is far more effective to first emphasize the fundamental, humanistic common goals/needs with the other person - treating them as a human being with their own experiences and perspectives. If you agree on a common “good” and simply disagree on how to get there, enemies can become allies working toward a common goal, as opposed just dismissing the other side as the same is done back to you.
This is not to overlook that some people are bad people and need to be separated from society. A murderer should be removed from society until they are no longer a threat. The point, however, is that good people can be wrong too, and they need to be treated like good, wrong people, not evil outcasts.
Humanism reminds us that civil discourse is a valuable weapon to be used against weak/bad/wrong disagreeable arguments, not something you do to be nice to your opponent. You are not only showing courtesy when you are civil, but you are also using reasoned and logical arguments with the intent to benefit the mutual knowledge of all parties involved, and that beats vitriol and hate every time.
Humanism helps us realize that justice must include a transformative path for those who do bad things - regardless of the circumstance - and not just focus on punishment. Humanizing each other leads us to realize that crimes and other misdeeds are done for complex reasons by complex people, not always evil people out to do bad.
Society benefits when troubled/bad/misguided people transform themselves into better, more functional members of society and people benefit (living longer, happier lives) from being functional members of society. We must, therefore, teach and practice mindful and earned forgiveness and redemption, not endless ostracization. Expelling people from society, or even your circle of friends, actually worsens the problem by allowing the issue to fester and resentment to build, often planting the seeds for future unpleasantry as animosity grows unchecked. If, however, the opponents see each other as people approaching the same good from different directions, a path to transformation is presented and both sides can communicate without demonizing, and those who have done wrong are given a real honest path towards redemption.
Social networking sites like Facebook thrive on conflict and feed it to us. They see our likes and dislikes and manipulate us via our feeds so we keep coming back to fight those “other” people some more, selling ad space at the expense of civility itself. Facebook wants everyone to dehumanize everyone else, to the greatest degree possible, because Facebook's primary product is the echo chambers we create using their products.
We aren’t like that here. We seek civil and constructive conflict resolution, humanization for every member of every conflict, and personal growth for every person in the community we are building. We don’t avoid conflict. We don’t expect everyone to pass a purity test - in fact, we prepare for everyone to fail at one time or another, address the conflict civilly, and remain a welcomed vibrant piece of our positive community.
We also promote redemption and forgiveness as hallmark attributes of Humanism. Both are virtues which descend directly from the practically-objective goods that derive from today’s realities.
They’re also really difficult to do. It’s much easier to stay angry, hold a grudge, or throw someone out of your life because they’ve simply done something wrong, and so now you don’t want them in your life anymore. In today’s society, forgiveness is seen as condoning the crime, and mercy is considered weak against perpetrators and setting a precedent to allow bad behaviour. Redemption, even when earnestly sought, is rarely granted. Individuals and society, on the whole, take the easy path so often we have lost the skill of forgiveness.
Our Internet culture normalizes ostracization and outgrouping. Someone who bucks a preferred narrative (aka fails a purity test) may be ostracized and shunned far too soon, shutting down discussion on the topic. This creates an echo chamber cycle - if some people disagree they are dehumanized, attacked as sympathizers and ostracized by the community., The onlookers then become afraid to support the non-orthodox speaker for fear of the same consequences. This all feeds division, limits communication and creates an “echo chamber” that reinforces opinions, right or wrong, by prohibiting discussion and debate.
The more one drifts from the preferred narrative, the more likely one is to be out-grouped, and those who object to the out-group in general (those who oppose echo tunnels and champion civil discourse) are likely to be immediately shunned. This is all a protection mechanism for the echo chambers, bolstered by the inherent resistance we all have to change our minds and challenges to our preconceptions and prejudices. People don’t like to be told (or worse, proven) that they are wrong, so the internet-facilitated echo tunnels provide a method to shield their opinions from the debate.
Humanism provides a mechanism to quell the creation and effects of echo tunnels. By providing the Practically-objective Good as a starting point from which to discuss, Humanism provides a common ground from the getgo and a basis for arguing a point without attacking or dehumanizing the other side. For example, two Humanists from opposite sides of the “border protection” issue would first immediately find common ground - the decrease in suffering and increase in well being is good - and then try to prove via an argument that their side does that better.
Dehumanization is more of a threat today than ever before in history due to the advent of the Internet and the emergence of the virtual society. The concept of the “online community” has forever changed the way we interact and communicate and we as a society have to change with it.
Until recently, society has been primarily comprised of face-to-face relationships, and the people we as individuals knew were few and often permanently in our lives. Back then, it was to everyone’s advantage to humanize and tolerate each other because we were more dependant on a small group of people for all our societal and support needs, so we humanized by default (we had no choice, we knew them all too well).
Now, we have many “friends” with whom we don’t have close personal connections. Instead of how many close IRL friends we have, we measure our societal support in terms of likes & comments, which is substantially less feedback than when we spoke to each other face to face, and this leads to interpretation of support fed by ego. Someone may like a post intending to imply support for the poster speaking out on an issue, or just because they liked the headline and didn’t read the entire message at all, but the poster may infer support for the position itself.
In addition, “Friends” are now so plentiful that they are disposable. Virtual purity tests have become the norm, and if friends fail those tests, even to a small degree, they are often dehumanized, lumped in with other dehumanized people who may share similar or related views on this one subject (“they’re a nazi/bigot/idiot” ), and discarded. The common practice has become not about understanding or finding common ground, but rather unfriending people who disagree, and often all of their friends, because again, dehumanized friends are disposable.
The inevitable result is an almost infinite splintering of society and the near elimination of civil discourse which has yielded a departure from any kind of morality that benefits today’s society in favour of mob justice and keyboard isolationism. As a result of these changes, we now dehumanize by default -- there often has to be a reason why we don’t dehumanize someone! The ease of creating our own, personal echo chambers allows us to shelter ourselves from the challenge which removes a corrective mechanism against extremism. The current trend of deplatforming controversial speakers is a good example of how this online social phenomenon affects real-life society.
This rampant dehumanization has deteriorated our social discourse and we have ceased listening to each other. Impeding or eliminating any possibility for transformation, forgiveness or redemption. We’ve stopped seeking answers and instead blame groups of people, political parties, or organizations for our problems. Dehumanization begets dehumanization.
In fact, though it is quite obvious, the world has never seen this level of dehumanization before, and it’s becoming dangerous on every level. Whether from the individual, close circles of friends, or international perspective, dehumanization reduces information exchange and allows bad ideas to take root and fester. We as a society need to be able to talk calmly, clearly, and rationally about long-term impact of modern life on future generations, and that which interferes with our ability to do so will continue to affect us all. We need to change course to retain and rescue our humanity.
Today’s growth of people who eschew organized religion need a modern, secular, defensible morality that will truly improve life because it is based on reality and addresses the real problems we have in today’s society. We need modern morals, beginning with the evaluation of people, including ourselves, as complex.
To that end, our social network is dedicated to fostering humanistic ideals in all member interactions:
Recognize that You dehumanize people; most everyone does. As we have explained, this is a natural and instinctive tendency that helped prehistoric humans band together to fight for resources. Today, dehumanization takes on many different forms, including everything from racism and sexism to hating every Republican or Democrat.
Dehumanization is harmful to everyone, including you. By dehumanizing, you limit your view of the world by discounting pieces of it, while encouraging others to do the same to you (Dehumanization Cycle). By reducing dehumanizing behavior, you improve the world by improving information exchange and reducing ignorance and hate.
Dehumanization is innate and wired in, but you must realize you are in control. The fact that you can rehumanize someone once, deliberately, means you can do it all the time. You just have to train your mind to do it reflexively. This is a great example where you can learn a new mind skill and change reality. You have the power to do this.
Think about times you’ve dehumanized, been dehumanized, and dehumanized yourself in the past. There’s probably a lot you can think about! Think about those situations and try to see a pattern. Do you often feel dehumanized at work? Maybe you dehumanize people to whom you’re attracted, or friends who voted the wrong way? Maybe you beat yourself up over mistakes and errors in judgement? Look for times you normally dehumanize people, and note what triggers it.
Once again, don’t judge yourself for dehumanizing behavior. Just note when you do it, what triggers it, and how you feel when you are dehumanized.
Having seen patterns, watch yourself for dehumanization when those patterns are ripe to play out again. Listen carefully for instances of dehumanization from other people
When you realize you are dehumanizing or have dehumanized someone, take a moment to actively humanize them. Think about who they are, what their life story must be like for them to be where they are, why they chose the clothes they are wearing or the things they are saying. Just realize that they are as complex as you, just different.
When you dehumanize yourself,pretend you are your best friend, and treat yourself as they would treat you. Would they call you stupid, or would they take your side, even if you messed up bad, and help you to understand why you did what you did so you don’t do it again? Guilt is your informer, not your prison guard. Let it make you better without caging you in.
When someone dehumanizes you, resist the urge to dehumanize them back and immediately try to humanize them. Don’t judge them for dehumanizing you because it’s at least partially involuntary. Then, humanize yourself to them. Tell them a short elevator speech on who you are and why you differ from them. Help them to see you as you see them.
When you see someone else dehumanizing someone, including themself, don’t judge them, but consider making them aware (without making a scene). Tell them privately after the fact if necessary send them this link to help them become more aware of the issue.
Finally, try to live a humanizing lifestyle:
Humanists become a part of the solution by being aware of their role in the problem and observing reason-based guidance on life and social interactions while humanizing those with whom they disagree.
Humanism can help you live a happier, and indeed longer life, by providing a mechanism to effectively interact with others. Humanism repairs the destruction dehumanization has caused, rebuilds and revitalizes society and social discourse, and is indeed our best and perhaps only chance to retain our humanity today.
Imagine a transformed society - the society you want to be a part of - and imagine your future you as an active vibrant member of that community. Imagine less hate and more love, less yelling and more discussion, less ignorance and more information. Imagine the future culture where individuality is prized, and purity tests are a thing of the past. Imagine people starting from the common ground of the Common Good. This is our vision, and we hope you help us transform society so we can all not only survive but thrive as technology advances, life becomes even more virtual, and dehumanization becomes even easier and more dangerous.
The following sections discuss some of the details of Humanism, including how morality is defined, the Atheism/Agnosticism/Humanism relationships (you’re probably all three), Civil Discussions, Mercy/Forgiveness/Redemption, and more.