A Humanist in a Hurricane

In the wake of Hurricane Gustav, atheists (just like religious people) are eager to help residents of the deep south affected by this disaster.

It reminds me of a piece Detective Sergeant Steve Schlicht wrote for The Humanist shortly after Hurricane Katrina struck.

He wrote about how he and other Humanists were working together to help others:

In what little of time I had, I worked with Humanist friends to begin supporting a grassroots emergency aid disbursement of resources and supplies to the most devastated areas of need, bypassing the red tape found elsewhere. We would deliver what we could to those who had no way of getting to distribution centers.

Moreover, very early on, many atheists and Humanists contributed to the aid and recovery effort for our coastal community. A Humanist couple from Alabama contacted me and made the trip into Gulfport with a trailer heaped with essential cleaning supplies purchased by money donated by other caring atheists and Humanists. In the coming days I would continue to make online contact with individual atheist friends as well as groups such as the Atheist Community of Austin, the Freethought Society of Greater Philadelphia, the Internet Infidels of the Secular Web, the Humanist Society of Scotland, American Atheists, and the American Humanist Association. These good people were so encouraging and very much appreciated during this turbulent time. We can’t thank them enough for their care and concern for us.

Of course the story doesn’t end here and, as I write this personal chronicle of events, it has only been a month since Katrina slammed ashore. There is still much to do. But our strong participatory Humanism will get us there. I’m convinced of this because it has been tested by experience and expressed so compassionately in real human terms. Though Hurricane Katrina was a force of nature rarely seen, humanity is an even more powerful force of nature when led by unconditional love and care in the midst of devastation and horror — and we will endure for the greater good. Where there is breath, there is always hope.

The full piece (PDF) can be downloaded here.

If you want to donate to a secular charity, the Red Cross works just fine.

So does Feeding America.

If you know other worthy charities to give to, please mention them (and provide links) in the comments.

I wish Secular Humanist Aid and Relief Efforts (S.H.A.R.E.) would get their act together, but I haven’t even received an email from them.

(Thanks to Gene for the link!)

  • http://conversationattheedge.com/ Helen

    Steve is a wonderful example of a humanist making a positive difference in the world.

  • Cathy

    Incite! an organization thats goal is to fight violence against women of color is doing fundraising to help low income women and their families evacuate. http://incite-national.org/index.php?s=137

  • http://humanism.meetup.com/164/ Steve Schlicht

    Hey Hemant!

    Thanks for the recognition and words of appreciation.

    I’ll have you know that the Red Cross is a wonderful organization for atheists and Humanists to donate their resources to. In the direct aftermath of Katrina, I met hundreds of Red Cross volunteers from all over who stayed at the CB Base in Gulfport. Truly great people.

    I’ve always donated blood and highly recommend that practice to those of your readers who are able.

    You might also want to check out http://www.humanistcharities.com and try to get more support for the website and their efforts as well.

    Still, I find that simple promoting and participating in grassroots meet ups along with consistent local charitable/volunteer community events is the best way to show a real sense of personal morality and ethics.

    You really don’t have to believe in an invisible magic being beyond space/time to be a good person and help out.

    Anyway, thanks again for the kind words and keep up the great work that you do here.

    Steve


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