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Happy Humanist Community Day, Massachusetts

Today is the official opening of the Humanist Hub in Harvard Square, which will be the headquarters for the Humanist Community Project and provide a space for community service projects and meeting space for a Sunday Assembly, Ethical Society of Boston events and much more. And Gov. Deval Patrick declared it to be Humanist Community Day.

Whereas December 8, 2013 marks the first-ever public event at the Humanist Hub, a center supporting community life for Humanists, atheists, agnostics and the nonreligious in Cambridge and beyond; and

Whereas the Humanist Hub of the Humanist Community at Harvard is the first such center for Humanist community life in the history of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts; and

Whereas this landmark event is part of a larger movement to build inclusive and inspiring, multi-cultural and multi-generational Humanist communities to serve the rapidly growing nonreligious population across the nation, while partnering with neighboring religious communities in acts of service to those in need; and

Whereas Humanists have made profound contributions to American history and society as a whole through their passionate promotion of universal human values such as reason, compassion, integrity, equality, and justice; and

Whereas the Humanist community may be viewed, from the perspective of the government and people of the Commonwealth, as one among the many ethical communities of conscience, striving together toward the common good;

Now, therefore, I, Deval L. Patrick, Governor of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, do hereby proclaim December 8, 2013 to be

HUMANIST COMMUNITY DAY

And urge all the citizens of the Commonwealth to welcome the Humanist Hub into the mosaic of our broader community, acknowledging, in the spirit of friendship and respect, that its members can contribute positively to the Commonwealth’s proud tradition of pluralism.

That’s awesome. And it’s important because it recognizes humanists as an important part of society that is contributing in a positive way. These are the small steps that lead to great change.

Comments

  1. Michael Heath says

    I was a little more giddier than now given my first read was, Humanist Pub. . .

    I like these types of pronouncements, but only when they’re honest and sufficiently framed of course. That’s because they provide a basic example of a structurally sound argument.

    Here we have a set of premises, that’s this particular set of ‘whereas’, that then leads to a conclusion; the people of MA benefit from humanists amongst us and their new resource.

    What I think gets missed far too often when we confront good arguments about issues in the public square is that we largely share a common set of assumptions with our political opponents, including most conservative Christians. Sure the most extreme conservative Christians and libertarians in general don’t share many of our assumptions, but I think most conservative Christians do on most issues. Where we fail to point this out.

    I think because we are mostly ignorant or fail to recall all the structural components of a cogent argument, and how noting the assumption(s) also helps make our conclusion more compelling. Instead we rely solely on our premises in spite our set differing so wildly from the typically false set conservative Christians use. Not that our arguments are particularly compelling simply because we use accurate premises and our opponents make defective arguments.

    For example, we predominately share the assumptions that:
    a) low unemployment is good,
    b) so is the goal to minimize poverty.
    Yet we rarely point this out; we’re too focused on confronting the almost always fatally flawed arguments from conservative Christians – flawed due to their predominate dependence on false premises.

    I think this depending more on our shared assumptions is critically important because we know that fierce partisans and ideologues increase their commitment to their false premises when confronted with the fact they’re false, both on the left and on the right. To break through I think it’s imperative to point out our shared assumptions and why our argument is a reflection of those shared motivations. I don’t think most conservative Christians want to be hypocrites, where pounding only on the facts demonstrably doesn’t work. So treating them more like fellow humans may improve our discourse.

    Of course this doesn’t mean I’m opposed to journalists continuing to allow conservative Christians, or anyone, getting away with promoting false premises as at least the right is able to do now. They’re job is to inform us so we need far more dispelling of lies in the public square. But in our policy arguments, we can do better revealing our shared values (assumptions).

    In addition, exposing when our assumptions differ is also a way to sway more people to our side. Conservative Christians are doing themselves no good politically, at least in the long term, continuing to hate on gays and their families. It exposes they do not share the constitutional principle of equal protection under the law. Another example is their attempting to stop the construction of Mosques and other gathering spots for Muslims. That exposes they don’t want really desire religious freedom but instead seek government power that at least promotes Christian privilege, to the detriment of all – including them, if not a theocratic agenda.

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