Chat with Christopher Villadelgado Barredo
Scott Douglas Jacobsen: How was HAPI incorporated into your life?
Christopher Villadelgado Barredo: Chance, if I remember rightly. I was highly active in online debate groups before and the HAPI founder, Ms.M, chanced upon me, I think.
It’s a little vague now, but being a part of HAPI was a very fulfilling experience for me as it allowed me to help through writing and publicizing projects.
Jacobsen: What made humanism such a compelling life perspective for you as a comprehensive practical philosophy?
Barredo: I have a wonderful family I guess. I also had awesome fictional parents like Capt. Picard in Gene Roddenberry’s Star Trek: The Next Generation.
I was a humanist long before I knew about the term itself. Wanting to help make the world a better place, the adherence to the scientific method and the good values instilled by my parents were already an integral part of my character and personality growing-up.
I loved the arts in all shapes and forms, and when you internalize the lessons in literature, like books, comics/manga, movies and TV series — especially anime/cartoons, you end up with a very nice goal for the world no different from that espoused by modern day superheroes — humanism.
When people truly wish the best for everyone else and are concerned about the next generation, like the hero characters in the Japanese anime, Naruto, or the BBC’s Doctor Who, the world becomes a happier and kinder place.
Kindness I think is one of the best values the human species inately has and it has served humanity in its survival. I believe more of it is necessary if we want to spread amongst the stars. Kindness begets more kindness and true concern creates bonds of unity and cooperation.
Humanism as a comprehensive practical philosophy allows us to keep the best parts of our society and humanity without any of the harmful and useless baggage present within religions.
This I think is the best thing about it. Anywhere on the planet that you travel to, kindness, empathy, sound logic and family are always gamechangers in a world of strife, marginalization, prejudice and madness.
I would even dare to compare it to the best thing about science — physics is the same anywhere and everywhere and so is humanism. That’s something religions don’t have. Humanism is a true and unifying natural world view and the good thing is that it’s not subject to superstition.
Jacobsen: What is your best coda statement on humanism?
Barredo: Humanism unites us, one and all, through the best values humanity has to offer.
Jacobsen: How does religion influence politics?
Barredo: In all the wrong ways, and I say that unapologetically. Religion is a wolf in sheeps clothing, it maintains its benevolence in words and does promote good action every now and then, but it will always come at a cost as it also, like a computer virus, implants marginalization, demonization, dehumanization and passes judgment upon people through a belief system based on superstition rather than evidence and actions.
Statistically, where religion is strong; poverty, violence, anti-science, miseducation, closed-mindedness and enmity are most powerful. Imagine the voting and lobbying power of that.
Scripture provides reasons to be good, but also good justification to be hateful and spiteful. The sad thing is that, rather than openly declare that these harmful parts should be discarded, the pious would be violent and antagonistic against those who criticize.
What kinds of laws and culture would such ideas develop? Definitely not a kind and open one. Religion may teach people to be kind to those who are of their house, but at the end of the day, there’s always a fiery judgment for any who do not share its faith.
The historical trends never change where religion is involved. Religion causes severe delays in scientific, cultural and economic development to such an extent that it can be named as one of, if not THE biggest, hindrance to planetary cooperation outside of run-away capitalism in a resource limited world.
Jacobsen: Does this make religion more of a political movement?
Barredo: Yes of course. Imagine all those laws and lobbying that create more problems than solutions. Religion declares how things should be done, usually in very specific terms. Like how much a woman is worth if a father chooses to sell her.
Let me give a few examples of problems that are largely caused by religion in politics; anti-climate change, the flat Earth movement, terrorism, anti-vaccination, alternative medicine and a myriad of other anti-scientific nonsense. These are all caused by indoctrination into faith-based thinking.
Religion rejects the scientific method, a method which relies on evidence, peer-review and fact checking, in such a way that it kills intellectual development. Why else would they be highly interested in our children?
Children are the easiest to manipulate and brainwash due to their developing brains. Superstition, where once it helped people work together is unravelling society and keeping us from making highly needed progressive change. As they say, never underestimate large groups of uneducated crowds.
Jacobsen: Does religion tend to treat women as inferior and as untrustworthy?
Barredo: It depends on which religion we’re talking about. For the 3 great monotheisms, I would say yes! It doesn’t matter what kind of excuse the apologists and cafeteria religious say, if we want the gist of the underlying cultural view, one needs only read and study what the Torah, Bible and Qur’an say.
Jacobsen: What social activist initiatives are you working towards now?
Barredo: I am currently working with other like-minded humanists, wonderful people, on a project. However, it’s still hush hush at the moment until we get our matters settled. But watch out for it. I never considered myself a big name, but I am highly vocal both on and offline, and attend social functions where I can meet diverse kinds of like-minded folk. In small ways, I try to make a difference in the human rights, environmentalist and humanist movements through various organizations. If those small functions end up being big things that influence people to be more humane and scientific, then it is of worth to me.
Jacobsen: How do you find the humanist movement in the Philippines as a whole?
Barredo: It needs more publicity, honestly and frankly. Most people are humanistic without realizing it and that is a good thing, but I think we need more publicity as there is power and strength in knowing. The common thing you hear when you mention humanism is. “what’s that?”. That needs to change.
Jacobsen: What targeted objectives are the most important for the development of humanist values within Filipino society?
Barredo: A higher education standard both at home and in institutions. Good education has always been the greatest support of humanism in any society. As of right now, humanism is communicated in English mostly since it’s the international medium. However, for the common folk, this gets lost due to the weakening standards within our education system. For me, the target is always the empowerment and development of the next generation.
Publicity allows awarness and we can have more of that through grassroots projects, media publicity, discussions and conferences. An educated folk will have more lobbying and voting standards and that is the best way to translate the global movement’s mission and vision into practice.
Jacobsen: Thank you for your time, Christopher.
Barredo: Thank you for the opportunity to say something!