Category Archives: Inspirational humanists

World Food Day

John Boyd OrrToday is World Food Day which commemorates the anniversary of the founding of the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) on 16 October 1945.

The first Director of the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (and the World Health Organisation) was John Boyd Orr (1880-1971) later Lord Boyd Orr. He was an adviser to the British Humanist Association, and put his humanist ideals into practice. As a scientist and a humanist, believed that we should use our knowledge to ensure that everyone in the world had enough to eat. The titles of his books, Food and the People , Health and Income , and Famine and Feast, showed the main concerns of his life. His efforts to eradicate hunger in the world won him a Nobel Peace Prize in 1949, and he was made a Companion of Honour by The Queen.

Humanism in Ghana

GhanaLeo Igwe was speaking at a Workshop on Humanism at the University of Cape Coast to explore the opportunities for the International Humanist Ethical Union to work with activists and universities in Ghana.

He began by referring to Ghana’s humanist heritage  – Ghana’s first President Kwame Nkrumah was a humanist:

And he exemplified his humanism in his dogged fight against colonialism and imperialism, particularly in leading Ghana to become the first Sub Saharan African nation to gain independence in 1957.

Listen to what he has to say about humanism in Africa . “The African personality is itself defined by a cluster of humanist principles which underlie the traditional African society.”

Nkrumah said it loud and clear that “Fear created the gods, and fear preserves them, fear in bygone ages of wars, pestilence, earthquakes and nature gone berserk, fear of acts of God. Fear today of the equally blind forces of backwardness and rapacious capital . Continue reading

Should there be a British humanist of the year award?

Australia has one, so does America. Should Britain?

 The Australian Humanist of the Year is awarded to an “Australian who had demonstrated outstanding qualities of the type needed to advance mankind…An occasional award is made to a Humanist Society member for outstanding contributions to the Humanist movement or to furthering the ideals of Humanism: this person is given the award of Outstanding Humanist Achiever.”

The American award goes to “a person of national or international reputation who, through the application of humanist values, has made a significant contribution to the improvement of the human condition.”

The National Secular Society last year introduced the Irwin Prize for the Secularist of the Year (worth £5000) which appeared to be given on the basis of how much a person has done to promote secularism or science or criticise religion (nominees included Flemming Rose, the man who commissioned the Mohamed cartoons for Jyllands-Posten). Continue reading

Humanist Jews stand by Muslim victims of hate crime

The arson-attacked houseIn Sarasota County, Florida, authorities are investigating an arson that destroyed a Muslim family’s home as a hate crime.

The blaze happened on July 6. The Sejfovics, who moved from Bosnia in 2001, were out of town on holday and returned to find their home completely destroyed and spray-painted with anti-Muslim graffiti.

Several agencies, including the FBI, Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office, Florida Department of Law Enforcement and U.S. Department of Homeland Security, are investigating the fire.

Members of the Unitarian-Universalist Church – the church that sponsored the family in 2001 – are standing by the family and vetting correspondence and phone calls. Others who have offfered theire suppport are a local rabbi and a Humanist Jewish Congregation, a couple of American-Islamist Groups, as well as many, many outraged individuals. Condolences and a reward have been offered; a fund is in the process of being set up.

Bill Gates calls for greater steps to tackle global inequality

Vnunet.com reports that Bill Gatesatheist/ agnostic Bil Gates has received an honorary degree Harvard, 33 years after he dropped out to start Microsoft. 

Gates used his acceptance speech to call for greater steps to tackle global inequality, describing as “revolting” the fact that children in the developing world are dying for want of medicine costing less than $1.

“I left Harvard with no real awareness of the awful inequities in the world: the appalling disparities of health, wealth and opportunity that condemn millions of people to lives of despair.

“I learned a lot here at Harvard about new ideas in economics and politics, and I got great exposure to the advances being made in the sciences.

“But humanity’s greatest advances are not in its discoveries, but in how those discoveries are applied to reduce inequity.

“Whether through democracy, strong public education, quality healthcare or broad economic opportunity, reducing inequity is the highest human achievement. “

Gates urged his audience to become activists and take up the fight to save those less fortunate than themselves. He declared that he would be devoting all his energies and resources to the project once he had eased himself out of Microsoft next year.

Humanists walk for land, dignity and freedom

Vidya Bhushan RawatThe International Humanist and Ethical Union (IHEU) reports that “In the scorching heat of North India’s summer, Mr. Vidya Bhushan Rawat, Radical Humanist, and Director of the Social Development Foundation started off on a 22-day Land Dignity and Freedom march…along with colleagues from the UP Land Alliance, Ambedkarite groups and Dalit community representatives .”

“Hunger and starvation deaths have been stalking the marginalised communities in the eastern parts of India’s most populous state Uttar-Pradesh for the last ten years. Every year people in the region die from Malaria and Japanese Encephalitis (brain fever); they have severe health problems because of severe nutritional deficiency and non existent health care.

The media and the sections of society which could make a difference have largely ignored the plight of these marginalised and dispossessed communities desperately looking for help, assistance and human solidarity. In this context, the Social Development Foundation, an IHEU Member organisation based in New Delhi, has taken a bold step to draw the world’s attention to the plight of these marginalised and the outcastes in Indian society.”

Andrew Carnegie’s legacy still going strong

Dale Carnegie

Andrew Carnegie

The Carnegie trend is especially big in Yorkshire. This week the rugby union team Leeds Tykes has renamed itself Leeds Carnegie. This is because Leeds Metropolitan University has taken a controlling 51% stake in the team, and its sports wing is called the Carnegie Faculty of Sport and Education (previously the Carnegie Physical Training College, set up in 1933 by the Carnegie Trust)….”