Archive for December, 2008

Solstice Greetings

Today is the day of the Southern Solstice which means that I’m enjoying the shortest day of the year. After this point, it will start getting lighter, although it’s probably still going to get colder as it moves into January. To counter all of this, I’m getting together with some friends and we’re going to talk, play games and eat something delicious. Just the thing to keep all that darkness at bay.

Happy Solstice, everyone!

LGBT Rights are Human Rights

Today we celebrate the sixtieth anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), the landmark document outlining the basic rights that every person on this planet should be entitled to. As a humanist, the Declaration embodies a lot of my core beliefs and principles based on rational thinking and compassion for all human beings. There will be many celebrations, vigils and events taking place throughout the world to attest to the importance and relevance of this document even today. If you want to join in, Amnesty International have suggestions and information as to events and actions you can take.

However, I’d also like to ask you to spare a thought for the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) community. Today, on this anniversay of human rights, the United Nations General Assembly will consider a declaration calling for the global decriminalisation of homsexuality. Despite sixty years of the human rights declaration this will be the first time that the UN General Assembly has considered LGBT human rights. The declaration will be tabled by France and is backed by all twenty-seven EU states, sponsored by Canada and supported by many other countries as well. Opposition comes mainly from religious groups and religious states. Individuals in the LGBT community face discrimination and persecution solely on the grounds of their sexual preferences and their capacity for love. Human rights apply to all human beings and no individual or group should be considered exempt from this. If you want to read more about the declaration, member state positions and current attitudes and criminalisation of homosexuality I recommend the recent article written by Peter Tatchell on the Guardian’s Comment is Free website.

In Memoriam: Oliver Postgate

Yesterday, Oliver Postgate, creator of many enchanting children’s television programmes, passed away. He was responsible for classic programmes such as The Clangers, Bagpuss and Noggin the Nog. As well as having a fanstastically creative mind, he also had an impassioned serious side. Postgate was a conscientious objector during the war and was actively involved with the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament. Among other things, he also wrote a series of blog posts for the New Statesman including several dialogues between God and the Devil where the Morning Star gives his Lord a serious grilling on some of his decisions. One such dialogue discusses the importance of the separation of Church and State. Read on further here.

Cardiff Humanists!

Tonight I went along to my first meeting of the Cardiff Humanists group. I arrived late and so missed the formal discussion topic but was just in time for the poll on future topics and the free for all discussion. There were twelve of us in all gathered at a spacious city centre pub with no music to hinder our conversation. The miscellaneous topics ranged from the recent Patrick Jones poetry debacle, Sharia law, faith schools and anonymous protesting scientology, to free speech, possible atheist protests and children singing christmas hymns, plus many, many more things beside. All in all, there was plenty of lively debate and good humour. Having already introduced myself on the mailing list, I was asked to talk a bit about what Edinburgh humanists were doing and about humanist blogging. It was a friendly, inquisitive and welcoming group and I’m looking forward to the next meeting. Feel free to come join us! They also have a newsletter and a facebook group. Maybe next I should seek out the Cardiff University Atheist & Agnostic Society

The O Project

Last week, I wrote about the Atheist Bus Campaign, and one of the main ideas that rose out of the discussion surrounding it was the need for positive messages and actions association with Humanism. Enter the O Project. Founded in 2005 by British humanist Hamish MacPherson, the O Project has two main aims.

1. To champion the contributions that humanists and other non believers make to wider society in the fields of social justice, equality and human rights.

2. To promote good relations and cooperation between believers and non believer

Fantastic! Just what we’ve been talking about. There are lots of resources and opportunities to get involved including videos, interviews, links, suggestions, quotes, a calendar of relevant dates and profiles of non-believers who have made a difference. There’s also the “100 100 100” initiative which is seeking 100 people to pledge their support for the O Project and its aims, then 100 humanists and non-believers to be involved in interfaith/interbelief work and finally 100 volunteers to get involved in good causes. So far, they have more than 100 people signed up to support the O Project aims but there’s still an opportunity to add your name. I would definitely like to get involved with their future work.

I strongly suspect that many non-believers and agnostics are already involved in volunteering and worthwhile causes but an initiative such as this serves as a great way to highlight their contributions. At a time when the discourse on religion and society has become quite confrontational and heated, the O Project comes as a breath of fresh air reminding us of the benefits of working together and the good we can do as people of all faiths and none.

I learnt about the O Project thanks to Nullifidian and a link on their website.

*link updated!*