Do Black Lives Matter—to Humanism? That was the question the editors of The Humanist magazine posed for its July/August 2015 edition. On the one hand, I was encouraged to see the official magazine of our national movement address the thorny issue of racism in our country. On the other hand, I had to uncomfortably admit that even broaching the topic would be met with apathy and/or dissent by some within our ranks. Not because our movement has been infiltrated by racists. Hardly. Most self-identified humanists aspire to be people of goodwill and egalitarianism, but many white folks—especially those of us living in Minnesota—just don’t see how we have much responsibility for the problems of racism locally or in the country at large.
My name is Narayan P. Dhakal and I am from Kathmandu, Nepal. I am affiliated with the Humanists of Minnesota and currently working as a freelance Interdisciplinary Environmental Expert in Minnesota. You might have heard about the devastating earthquake that struck in Nepal on Saturday. Fortunately most of my immediate family members are safe, but the damage to life and property of my friends and relatives has been monumental. A total of 2400 people have been confirmed dead and 5900 are critically injured and many missing. There is no communication with some of the rural areas of the country where the situation is worst. The immediate relief assistance has not yet reached rural Nepal where people have been buried for more than 48 hours.
Every day is Earth Day for humanists and naturalists. But there’s no time like springtime to celebrate the earth and reflect on our relationship to the natural world. Especially here in Minnesota. The long-awaited changes from increased daylight and warmer temperatures are becoming more apparent every passing day. Minnesota’s springtime rebirth brings an awareness and vitality to life that borders on the therapeutic. Mindful observation of this cyclical change easily leads one to the philosophy of naturalism and a deeper connection to the earth itself.
What kind of people are humanists anyway? They are people like Autumn Meta. She's a University of Minnesota student organizing a large Spanish-language book drive to facilitate library growth and literacy efforts in Guatemala. After an experiential learning trip to this Central American country last year, Autumn returned with a passion to do some good in that part of the world. She's realistic and determined. As a pragmatic humanist, she's learned that you don't have to take on the whole world as a project. Just do some good where you can.