Happy World Humanist Day!

A piece to mark World Humanist day which takes place on 21 June each year.Newham Recorder 24.6.21.

A belated Happy World Humanist Day!  In case this passed you by, it is held each year on 21 June.

Several festivals are celebrated in Newham, reflecting its diverse population. Schools often mark Christmas, Eid and Diwali. So why not a special day for a non-religious world-view? After all, according to recent surveys, over half the UK’s population have no religion, and other humanist occasions such as funerals are increasingly common.

21st June was chosen by humanist organisations internationally a few years ago because of its universal significance. It is generally the day of the Summer solstice in the Northern hemisphere, and of the Winter solstice in the South.  The date also symbolises how much is owed to science for modern understanding of the universe, including why a Winter and Summer solstice occur.

There is much for humanists to celebrate, including free-thinking and finding our own way to lead a happy, purposeful life. We can also be proud of our role fighting inequality and prejudice based on race, gender and sexuality. The day also serves to remind us how many lives are still blighted by bigotry based on outdated beliefs, and the punishment still meted out to ‘non-believers’ around the world.

As for science, vaccination is a good topical illustration of its paramount importance. Only through human effort and expertise has the dread of scourges such as polio been eliminated from our community. The challenge presented by so-called anti-vaccers should not be underestimated. They seem oblivious to the huge benefits vaccination has brought. They feed on conspiracy theories, rubbish experts and undermine efforts against Covid. Their adherence to anti-science shows it is as vital as ever to have strong voices arguing to tackle the world’s problems with reason and evidence. It is a cause humanists are proud to champion. 

The positive humanist world-view is neatly summed up in six words: “Think for yourself, act for everyone.” Hopefully many people will be happy to celebrate these values with us on future World Humanist Days.

Paul Kaufman
Chair East London Humanists

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