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Hard Times: Summary

Watch Alice Roberts round up what we have learned about how humanists support people facing difficult times

This week

This week we met humanists working alongside those facing challenging moments in their lives. We’ve heard about how humanists try to support those people facing hard times and difficult transitions, about what motivates these humanists to do what they do, and about the impact of their work.

Let’s summarise what we have learned:

  1. Pastoral support is provided by people able to listen, with empathy and without judgement, to those who need somebody to talk to during times of need. Humanists believe it is important that like-minded pastoral support should be available to the non-religious.
  2. Despite early opposition, humanist pastoral carers work in an increasing number of hospitals and prisons, plugging a gap that had previously meant non-religious people rarely took advantage of such a service.
  3. At the end of life, many humanists will focus on the time they have left, sharing it with loved ones or trying to leave something behind.
  4. Many humanists believe rehabilitation should be one of the primary goals of prison. They believe that non-religious people should have access equal to that of religious people to the services that can support this.
  5. People leaving high-control religions can suffer a loss of their support network, mental health problems, and even physical violence. Services such as Faith to Faithless aim to provide a community for such people and to help them realise that they are not alone.
  6. While humanists will typically believe war should be a last resort, some work in the armed forces and believe that such work can be a force for good in parts of the world in which people are suffering.
  7. When human beings face hard times, humanists will emphasise the value of having the opportunity to make connections with other people: to be listened to, to be empathised with, and to recognise that you are not alone.

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

Next week we’ll turn our attention to humanists revelling in the joys of being alive. We’ll meet humanist scientists, historians, and artists, and we’ll hear about the pleasure they find in curiosity, creativity, and connections. We’ll explore whether a worldview that sees the world as a natural place, and human beings as material and mortal creatures, leaves any room for depth or wonder, and if so, where this can be found.

This article is from the free online

Humanist Lives, with Alice Roberts

Created by
FutureLearn - Learning For Life

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