Being Human(ist)

by Martin Smith

“As an undergraduate student in psychology, I was taught that multiple personalities were a very rare and bizarre disorder. That is all that I was taught on … It soon became apparent that what I had been taught was simply not true. Not only was I meeting people with multiplicity; these individuals entering my life were normal human beings with much to offer. They were simply people who had endured more than their share of pain in this life and were struggling to make sense of it.”

― Deborah Bray Haddock, The Dissociative Identity Disorder Sourcebook


Sometimes that struggle is too much.

I have spent some time these past few months asking myself why this is the case. Are humanists more likely to suffer mental health issues than people who have a religion? Nihilism is hardly comforting, is it? We are all faced with this question and we may not like the answer. At the same time, we cannot be religious and betray our reason, sense and intellect. So what are we to do? Well as one man once said ‘there can be no progress without head-on confrontation’. That head-on confrontation is what I propose we do.

Together we have the power to really make a difference. We can make this one life less of a struggle for those alive today and for those still yet to be born.

Between 8th -12th February, Sheffield Atheist, Secular and Humanists are running a series of events dealing with these questions. The week is called Being Human(ist). This week of events is vital to humanism. It raises the questions that humanism has not yet asked. It places those people who are finding life tough for whatever reason in a room together providing them with the opportunity to talk to and support each other. That support will take many different forms: from organised blood drives and talks from representatives of the NHS to social occasions. (The Sheffield Young Humanist Launch Party is on Thursday 11th of February).

But this is a small event compared to what you may be able to do.

Sheffield Atheist, Secular and Humanists are also writing into their constitution that the committee must host at least one mental health speaker and organise at least one blood drive per year. This way whatever progress is made by holding the Being Human(ist) event can be sustained. It also provides a perfect response to the often facetious question: “What do you actually do?” Perhaps you and your society would like to follow this example and together we can make real progress. It may only take one talk to make all the difference and to change that one person’s life for the better.

That is the very point of being (a) humanist.

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