Let's do much more with a more complete humanism
Main thoughts in recent exchange of messages between Ricardo E. Trelles and a director
of the Humanists of Florida Association.
This is the long overdue response to your nice and interesting
message of Jun 27, 2002.
The main reason for the delay is my physical condition, that
severely limits me for any intellectual work, like writing or
speaking. The other reason is probably consequence of the first,
and is that I am not being effective enough advocating for
a better structured interpretation of humanism
and a wide, practical application of it. Maybe with
your understanding and that of the HFA some progress is made in that
direction. We all would benefit from it.
Basically what I mean by a better structured interpretation of
humanism is that humanism shouldn't be seen centered on secularism.
Of course, rational thinking is a fundamental capability of the
human, with secularism deriving from it. Secularism is only one of
the results of the humanist view and one that, considering the
pervasive scope of humanism, is a lateral result.
As I see it, humanism is the full appreciation of the human
condition and of all of the capabilities that are part of it.
Human capabilities are so fruitful and diverse that a full
appreciation of them, and a full application of their knowledge,
bring outstanding progress to all humanity.
Mysticisms, hindering and even dangerous as they are, are trapping
most people, but only for lack of a proper education. We humans
cannot make use of all of our intellectual sharpness without
a proper education.
So, humanism being so pervasive and decisive, is a knowledge
needed by every single human being. We who have started understanding
it have the duty of making it known by and making it work for,
everyone. Humanism is not only for a sharp elite that needs to
associate to deal better with the rest, ignorant and/or naive. We
humanists must and can bring forward a growing movement to spread
the humanist view, by showing the results of using it in
practice. Results of sound well-being, prosperity and
happiness for all.
I urge you to move up and make full use of the rich principles of
humanism. Following I sketch a few ideas that seem feasible
and that would help people and help promote humanism. There's
no limit on how much else it could be done too based on a full,
There are two fields that are decisive to improve people themselves
and their environments. Those are the educational system and
politics as a civilized way to participate in the government of our
societies. And there is the health care system, obviously decisive
too for the well-being of people.
One can't be a really good teacher without being a humanist. We can
endlessly improve our educational system by making our teachers
better humanists. All of our teachers. If we have
a substantial and clear humanist message we can reach and enrich
each teacher. Starting even with the smallest humanist growth of
even a little number of our teachers, gradually, we can attain
outstanding, perdurable results.
Two basic actions to that end seem to be distributing --substantial,
clear and persuasive--humanist literature to teachers, and developing
a website dedicated to humanism in education.
Getting involved in politics and government is the only way of making
a real improvement in the action of our governments. Our governments
can and must be increasingly guided by humanist principles too.
Again, a profound, clear and realistic humanist view is needed to
make highly constructive, convincing statements on most social
issues. Such statements would leave important impressions, and
eventually would bear fruits, even in cases when they don't win
general acceptance at the beginning. Existing political candidates
and elected officials would find themselves forced to consider
such statements. Gradually many of them would be guided by humanist
principles in most of their attitudes. Sincere, profound, clear,
humanist political candidates should be eventually unbeatable.
It seems feasible we can promote a substantial improvement of our
health care systems, by gradually expanding actions.
First we can use our principles to conclude that health services
cannot be just another profit oriented business in our society.
Each individual should bear the costs of the personal and family
health services he or she requires and receives. Costs that cannot
be determined as it is for any other ordinary comodity in the
market. Charges for health care services and products must be
regulated by law. Then, of course, we have the social obligation
of helping those finantially incapable or limited to pay for health
Regulating the costs of health care is obviously one result of
gradually making humanism guide politics and goverment. But also
there are simpler, immediate actions we can undertake to influence
in an important manner that care. We can start a humanist guild of
health care providers with a new humanist understanding of their
mission, that would agree to abide by an improved code of pursuance
of their professions.
It must be possible to remove the current brutal component of the
doctor-patient relationtionship where the first has profit as his/her
primary goal while the second tries to catch the other with some
mistake to, too, extract money as a result. It should be possible,
even under the current legislation, that health care providers
dealt with their patients by a mutual trust agreement,
under which the first risks only his/her prestige in treating a patient
(except if a criminal intention is proven, of course).
I hope you will find some or all of the above sugestions valuable.
At least maybe you would publish them for other fellow humanists to
think about them.
In reference to your interest in making HFA and MHEC join forces, I
regret having to say MHEC has returned to a project stage again. In
98 there were 9 people interested in the MHEC concept, but their
interest have subsided. MHEC has the serious handicap of depending
on me, with me being increasingly handicapped. MHEC requieres
pioneering efforts and pioneers are hard to find.
Even so, I am totally sure of the outstanding potencials of the MHEC
concept. MHEC's website continues to run and it has several documents
important, I think, to develop correspondingly outstanding
humanist actions. Most of those documents are still
in Spanish, though. If you agreed they are useful, I would certainly
help as much as I can to clarify them if necessary, and correct or
comment on English versions of them.
What do you think?
With best regards,
Ricardo E. Trelles
P.S.: Two of MHEC's writings you might want to check, comment
and/or use are:
HUMANISM. Why, What, and What For, In 882 Words
Humanismo en la educación (Humanism in Education)
>We are working on Education Reform, Health Care Reform, and for making Humanism
a force for positive social change. (Ie: engaging Humanism in the political
sphere.) We are currently not only the central contact point for Humanism
in the state - but a central player in the creation of a state-wide
Progressive Network - dedicated to promoting education, health care access,
environmental protection, church state separation etc.<
It sounds like some results will be achieved. Those reforms should
be at least progressively substantial, though. There's a whole business
of "political oposition", where personalities and whole organizations
make calibrated oposition for the benefit of the oposed and to
get some benefits in return. Also there are oposition forces that are
just downright ineffective, and those are of great help to the oposed
too. In politics having an incapable oposition is much more desirable
than not having oposition at all.
I see no indications the HFA is in neither of those cases,
but it is hard to tell if one is helping other groups that are.
The notable example of doing bad while thinking one is doing
good is with the charities, which most are harmful in the
It is essential to have sharp and clear goals, and
keep sharpening and making them clearer all the time.
>We also have contact with one of the spanish language TV stations in
the Miami area, but don't have the staff, nor enough spanish speaking
volunteers to properly exploit this resources (there are Humanists working
there and they contacted us).<
That surprises me. Spanish-speaking TV is very superficial
here (even more than the one in English!). If you put us in contact,
I would do what I can or at least we could exchange ideas. I would
keep you posted on what we are doing.
The only big problem are my personal limitations. For me to speak
coherently enough for more that ten minutes is grueling. To have any
serious, persuasive, meeting, not to mention to appear on TV, you need to
perform! If I were able, I would had pushed into participating
in the media here. I know I would have contributed valuably and
would have encouraged others to participate along the same lines
Much to my regret, I don't think I could attend the conference
in Tampa on January, but if I'm still in Miami on the 2006,
I think I won't resist at least to show up and shake hands will
all of you in the conference here. Maybe we even have some
important projects going on by then!
Ok, I understand. You could keep keeping it simple for some more decades
--or less, when soon things get really nasty around us.
Could I ask you again to publish my original message with sugestions
in your newsletter? That way more people can consider it, and it
goes to the records.
>I can certainly forward it to the editor - but the fall newsletter
is going to be full of publicity items for the 2004 conference.
And... honestly - you didn't say anything that the board of the
Humanists of Florida Association (HFA) does not already agree with
and subscribe to. And, from our experience - most humanists want
to go in that direction too - which is why we (HFA) have developed
such a good international reputation so quickly.
Perhaps you haven't read our 5 year plan yet - which is possible
since I only just got a good mailing address for you. Anyway -
much of what you talk about is in there.<
(The Humanists of Florida Association's 2003-2008 5 year plan
is currently available