Stay human, go Humanist

Sketches for a Humanist manifesto

What is Humanism? A direct definition would be ineffective. Still, we need to find a short and clear definition. Otherwise we should not blame people for misunderstanding us — or, worst, for simply ignoring us. For now let me start by saying what Humanism is not.

Humanism is an ethical life stance that stands between the illusion of religion and the sterile emptiness of nihilism. We know the story well: believers accuse us of being nothing but nihilists, and nihilists in turn accuse us of being nothing but masked believers. Facing such accusations, we cannot but shrug our shoulders, say «whatever!» and go away: they will not understand us, because they live in a black and white world — and we are one of the 50 shades of grey.

In fact, although on the two opposite sides of the chessboard, they share a common, central belief. I call it «the fake dichotomy faith/despair». It is the belief in a Manichean world where one has only two alternatives: either you give life meaning believing in God or you are doomed to the deepest atheist despair — because, they say, “since there is no God, there is no meaning of life either”.

And yet nobody ever thought that maybe, even if there is no God, there can be a meaning of life. Here is our challenge, here stands Humanism — far beyond the above mentioned fake dichotomy. We know indeed that nihilism is not the only possible reaction to the death of God, that happiness can be reached even in an absurd, atheist world. We are striving every day to prove it, even though everything seems to be against us.

At the time when it seems there is no alternative but to hate mankind and to root for the upcoming apocalypse, we realized on the contrary that we have no choice but to love man and to act for its higher spiritual and material improvement. At the time of the Great Misanthropy, we choose to love man, no matter how ugly, cruel, fool, stingy, and evil he can prove to be. Believing in his rational and empathetic potentials, we think that through a well coordinated, determined, and obstinate action it is possible to successfully fight for the well-being and the happiness of all human beings.

Believers tell us that it is impossible to succeed without God. Nihilists that it is impossible to succeed at all. We go on.

There will always be time to be nihilist after all — and those who bet against mankind actually love to win easily. But we are here to prove them wrong. In the end, here is the short definition of Humanism we were looking for:

Humanism is a bet on mankind.

We know that we may lose this bet. But then no one will ever collect the win.

Pic by Andrea Martella