Guest Post by Derrick S.
As Humanists, we may think of ourselves as “good without God,” but the expression “evil little thing” captures what many people in the United States think of someone supporting Humanism. Humanists face potentially serious consequences from prejudice and discrimination. At the Reason Rally, Humanists helped make a safe space where people could be honest about their Humanism and enjoy the company of others. Now, many of us want to find and create more safe spaces.
A safe space for Humanists is one that encourages respectful relationships and critical thinking. So our question becomes how do we create spaces where people would be welcomed and ideas considered?
Social psychology research by Robert Cialdini has many helpful ideas. For example, it helps to generate liking by saying kind things, listening, finding things in common, giving gifts, and exchanging favors. Barbara Fredrickson found that people who feel secure and happy welcome diversity.
Robert Cialdini’s research offers other suggestions. It helps to notice things people already do to support us. We can ask in what ways is someone already thinking reasonably or supporting “liberty and justice for all”? We can point out things people already do that fit with a Humanist world view or show support for Humanists.
Other people or authorities may also support Humanism. Many Europeans, actors, scientists, authors, musicians, artists, political activists, and leaders are Humanists. It helps to mention those people and show that we’re not alone.
Generally, putting these strategies to work takes a commitment to careful thinking and thoughtful caring. The word “because” needs to be one of our most important words. When we put reason and compassion in action, we wisely lead by example and make room for life based on facts and love.
Fortunately, Humanists in central Ohio who participate in and support the Humanist Community already have some safe space. Letting others know that we have a group helps make it all right to be a Humanist. At our April Humanist program, we will be discussing our experiences of coming out as Humanists and talking about the challenges that people may have faced.
Strategies for opening minds:
[This message was originally presented by Derrick S. for the Humanist Community of Central Ohio's "Dial-A-Humanist" service. For more information checkout HCCO's Official Website]