I have studied history and comparative religions more than the average human. I have tried to do so with as open a mind as possible and the goal of being objective and unemotional about what I observe, think or feel. Emotion is a great human trait, but it definitely gets in the way of "reason" far too often.
Being in my sixth decade of existence and many people periodically challenging me to describe who I am and "what I believe in"...I think I may have found the best one word answer for now..."Humanitarian".
I have tried on many labels over my lifetime. I grew up with some by association with my religious and cultural upbringing. We grew up "Christian" and "Republican". Of course, I soon learned in life that being "white" had its expectations and exclusions as well. As I progressed in my lifelong education, I soon learned that all humans bleed red, most all religions believe in the same mystical fundamentals, and yesterdays Republican would be today's "Democrat". To define oneself by these institutional epitaphs has become quite limiting and confusing in my opinion.
In a recent conversation of substance, someone asked me that since I am no longer religious,does that make me a "humanist". Once again, there's a word/label that could have many different meanings. For some people it means making "man" a "god"...at the center of all meaning and existence. I am not ready to declare homosapiens a "deity". We do far too many evil things to our environment and each other to associate ourselves with "deity"...plus we place too many limitations on ourselves to be a "god".
Yet, the humanist label is similar to another label that I can't really find any fault with. "Humanitarian" is a word that I have never heard used with a negative connotation. Everyone likes a
humanitarian. Humanitarians are "pro-human" without placing conditions or feigning deity. Humanitarians come from all walks of life...black, white, red, democrat, republican, independent, liberal, conservative, libertarian...I have known humanitarians from all these persuasions.
Here is my Humanitarian Creed...in case someone wants to make a "religion" out of this:
- Humanitarians are about live and let live...very accommodating of individualism.
- Humanitarians are non-judgmental (accept in cases of violence or self defence)
- Humanitarians don't need a "holy book" to tell them right from wrong or how to treat others.
- Humanitarians don't rely on others for accolades or need affirmation for the meaning of their existence
- Humanitarians don't need to be rewarded for their good works, but they do tend to believe "what goes around comes around".
- Humanitarians live for today and are positive about the future because they believe in the best of people.
- Humanitarians don't carry negative grudges or bitterness. They have learned to lower their expectations of other humans.
- Humanitarians make peace, not war
- Humanitarians believe THIS is the life that counts. Not an afterlife or previous one...
- Humanitarians were the originators of the motto "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you"
I have decided I can think of no disagreement or conflict with this label. The only challenge I have is living up to it...but since most people don't live up to their "religions" either, I won't let guilt stop me from trying to be...a "Humanitarian".