“I’ve decided to think about my ‘beliefs’ in terms of how I live rather than what my unconscious assumptions are. Because there are lots of people that have all sorts of beautiful ‘beliefs’ that live really awful lives. If I’m on the side of a road bleeding, I don’t care if the priest or the Levite have beautiful ‘beliefs’ about the poor and the hurting … Give me the Samaritan. The heretic. The outsider who may have the ‘wrong’ ‘beliefs’ in words and concepts but actually lives out the right beliefs by stopping and helping me. That’s the kind of belief I’m interested in at this point.” – Michael Gungor
I came across this quote earlier on a friend’s facebook post. It starkly reflects my approach to the world as a humanist and why I chose to be a part of the Humanist Service Corps, a volunteer organization based on the tenets of secular humanism. Currently the organization is in its third year in Northern Ghana and, while it is small, it is growing and there have been a number of successes over the past couple of years.
Growing up in Alabama I had to come to terms with the fact I held what many considered to be the wrong beliefs. While I enjoyed working to help others I didn’t want to proselytize to those who were often at their lowest point. I often say I believe in the power of good human beings working to help each other and I just wanted to leave it at that. While I often worked with wonderful Christian people I was usually cast out once their organization found out I was working as an individual and not with a church. I wondered why I could look past what they believed– even though I didn’t share those beliefs– and see the good person underneath it all and they couldn’t extend the same courtesy to me. It was a struggle to say the least. In Alabama, and most everywhere else, people get quite irrational when they discover you are not a religious person. I saw many around me who claimed to have the right beliefs yet they never expressed those same beliefs in their daily lives and interactions with others.
It was a dream come true for me to discover the Humanist Service Corps. While they may have what many consider to be the wrong beliefs they have the right ones as it pertains to taking action to help others. I’ll take that any day over someone thumping their own chest while proclaiming the righteousness of their beliefs and doing nothing to help others.
(image credit to Foundation Beyond Belief)