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Global goals: Summary

Watch Alice Roberts round up what we have learned about living as a humanist in different parts of the world
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Congratulations, you’ve completed Week 3 and you’re now halfway through the course. Over this week we met humanists living around the globe and learned what it means to be a humanist in very different parts of the world. We learned about how in some countries, the liberty and lives of humanists are in danger and we heard about some of the tragic consequences that humanists have suffered, simply for being open about the beliefs that they hold. We also heard about how, in often unsympathetic and hostile environments, some humanists feel it is their responsibility to challenge discrimination and injustice, and to try to build a more fair and equal society.
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Different cultures, backgrounds and environments mean that there is diversity in the humanist approach to life. But behind these differences often lie shared values of freedom and equality. Far from being simply a Western phenomenon, humanism speaks to people right across the globe. Today, in many parts of the world there are forces that stand against these values and they’re on the rise, meaning the future of freedom and equality are uncertain. However, new humanist organisations are sprouting up around the world and humanists are now better connected than ever. For humanists this is a cause for optimism. See you next week.

This week

This week we met humanists living around the world. We heard stories about the dangers many humanists face in countries where freedom of religion and belief are restricted. We discovered what work humanists are doing to support other discriminated-against groups. And we learned about places in the world where humanism has become part of the mainstream.

Let’s summarise what we have learned:

  1. Humanist thought has a long and diverse history, with examples found in ancient India, China, and Greece.
  2. Today humanism speaks to people all around the world. There is diversity in the humanist approach to life, but many common motivations and goals can be found.
  3. Humanist organisations can be found around the world. Some of these, such as in Norway, have grown to be part of the mainstream. Many face challenges due to religious privilege within their society, while others struggle even to exist.
  4. Humanists International is the umbrella organisation for humanist organisations around the world. Its work includes campaigning for human rights, advocacy, and supporting the growth of new humanist organisations.
  5. In many countries around the world, blasphemy and apostasy are crimes, in some cases punishable by death. This places humanists living in countries such as Bangladesh and Pakistan in significant danger should they choose to be open about their beliefs.
  6. Humanists around the world are working to change society in ways that they believe support freedom and equality. This includes countering extremism, supporting women’s and LGBT rights, providing education services, challenging discriminatory caste systems, speaking out against harmful traditional and superstitious practices, and promoting secularism.
  7. The number of humanists is growing in parts of the world where people feel safe to declare themselves non-religious.

This summary step is a good space to ask any questions you still have in the comments area and to take the opportunity to help out your fellow learners with their queries.

Next week

Many of us will never face the challenges experienced by some of the humanists we’ve met this week living in parts of the world where their liberty and lives are in danger. However, we all face difficult and uncomfortable moments in our lives, and many people are burdened with the loss of their health, their freedom, or their support network. Next week we’ll meet the humanists who choose to work with people facing such hard times.

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Humanist Lives, with Alice Roberts

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