Watch the news. Look around the world. Listen to the candidates who aspire to lead our nation. It can be demoralizing -- to be sure. We humanists envision a world better than the everyday portrayal. But we mustn’t lose sight of the fact that it isn’t going to happen by magical or wishful thinking. As humanists we understand that it is up to us to create the kind of world we want to live in and leave for our children and heirs.
Every spring—and surely this spring--opportunities await us to make a difference in our state. The 2016 Minnesota legislative session begins March 8th. A multitude of lobbyists and non-profit interest groups, religious groups and business interests are all vying for attention at the state capitol as our legislators ponder bonding bills and consider contentious policies. It is imperative that we as humanists and naturalists—espousing reason and evidence-based decision making--are at the table. We need to get more involved, be active and visible advocates for compassionate and sustainable public policies.
Of course, there are others who share our same policy goals but don’t necessarily espouse humanism. That doesn’t diminish the need for our involvement. We can and should work in coalition with those who share our values in pursuing the common good. In fact, Humanists of Minnesota are members of the Second Chance Coalition which is working to restore voting rights for ex-felons and to reduce drug sentences. Their Lobby Day at the capitol is Tuesday, March 15th. I will be there—hopefully with more than one other fellow humanist—to show our support.
Then, as many of you know, Compassion and Choices of Minnesota has introduced a bill to support aid-in-dying in our own state. Humanists of Minnesota supports this legislation and we encourage all our members to weigh in on this issue with their legislators.
In addition to lobbying one’s legislators at the state capitol, there are other opportunities for civic engagement. The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency is hosting listening sessions around the state to engage Minnesotans in how we can best build a clean energy economy. International agreements are important but it’s really at the local level where the rubber hits the road in putting policy into practice. Listening sessions are scheduled in St. Paul for March 2nd and in Minneapolis on March 8th. Watch the Humanist Meet-up site for details and come out to express your views and/or show your support for sustainability.
And don’t forget the annual Planned Parenthood Solidarity Day on Good Friday, March 25th at their health clinic in St. Paul on Vandalia St. With women’s health care options and choices under attack across the country, it is an important time for all supporters to come out of the woodwork and take a public stand.
Of course, few people are going to engage in more than one or two of the myriad issues that vie for our attention. But surely most of us can get involved with something. Encourage a friend to join you; activism is always better when you do it with friends and fellow travelers. Send an e-mail, make a phone call, show up at the capitol, attend a hearing or take a stand at a rally. Pick an issue that you feel passionate about given your life history, experience, interest and knowledge. Humanists are by definition about the business of human problem solving. It is how we find our purpose and meaning. We are co-creators of the world we want to live in. Let’s promote the humanist vision far and wide this spring.