To be called strident, promoter, activist or militant in any arena carries a certain set of additional baggage. It sometimes carries the perception of being an pain in the butt. Yet, it’s the leaders of any movement or ideology that effects change in the world. Without the these heroic souls to lead the charge, we would go nowhere.
I wrestled with an acronym for these people. If we use the names that I’ve placed in the title we can call them SPAM. We can also call them MAPS. Depending on your perspective you could look at them all how we look as spam in our inbox. Or we could look at them as a we do a map showing us the way. I think I like MAPS.
Abraham Lincoln, Hitler, Karl Marx, Charles Darwin, Mozart, Joseph Stalin, Susan B. Anthony, Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, Caesar Chavez, Christopher Hitchens, and Martin Luther King were inspirational individuals that made a difference in the world. They took the heat. Dealt with the rejection. They persevered.
Using the MAPS analogy, you can see that all of them didn’t necessarily show us the best route to get someplace. In face, some of them showed us the all time worst way. I guess we could label them MAPS or SPAM depending on the route they took. I’d rather be a MAPS person. I’m sure you would be too.
We all have an opportunity to become a MAPS. But do we all need to?
For me, the answer is no.
Living in the fourth quarter of my life brings me a certain contentment to simply believe what I believe without having to shout it to the world. The peace that I’ve found within my own space is enough. While I would be happy to discuss this with anyone who initiates and wants to have a genuine conversation, I’m unwilling to bring my message to the front of the room and make any kind of announcement.
I find that since I’ve given up my fundamental Christian beliefs I am more compassionate than ever before. I’m more thoughtful. I’m more purposeful in what I do. Instead of praying for someone, I now think of ways I can actually help them or how I can make a difference in their situation from a practical perspective. I find it much more satisfying to be a humanist than I ever did being a Christian. I’ve read the Humanist Manifesto several times only to be caught up each time in how incredibly kind and loving it’s words.
I believe I can, within the micro world of my existence, make a tremendous difference by simply living out what I believe. I’m learning that the philosophy of humanism is more suited to me than any religious dogma. The American Humanist Association tells me that “humanism is a rational philosophy informed by science, inspired by art, and motivated by compassion. Affirming the dignity of each human being, it supports the maximization of individual liberty and opportunity consonant with social and planetary responsibility.” I can get behind that idea. I can work to make that a reality in my life.
interestingly, just as Christians can do a myriad of good things without ever mentioning their beliefs (which rarely happens, by the way) so can I. I can, as the Sunday Assembly teaches, Live Better, Help Often and Wonder More without ever saying a word about atheism, deities (or lack thereof), or anything supernatural. I can live completely faithful to my beliefs and philosophies without ever being a MAPS (or a SPAM).
Religion meets people where they are and beats them into a submissive sheep mentality. Humanism meets people where they are and helps them follow their heart. Both have guidelines. One does damage, the other does wonders.