If you are going to label me – label me a humanist!

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We carry labels and ideas of who people are. We gravitate like atoms to those who match us better or who might make us better. Based on our assumptions, we judge others based on what and who we are and decide if we want to associate with them. With a suspicious eye, we are cautious with those who might not be like us. We think that others are out to get us and that we must protect ourselves. We have segmented ourselves based on religion, social status, cultural background, places people live. We build an ‘us’ and ‘them’ mentality. Rather than trying to learn from each other, we take the path of spreading who we are and we are not afraid to speak up and keep our ears closed. I have chosen to be a humanist.

I have sat and listened to conversations about ‘groups’ of people or why they are different than us. I hear comments like: “Can you believe they eat that?!” or “Why do they have to dress like that, do they not know it is not right.” Even, comments like, “I would not trust them for a minute.” Unfortunately, we glorify the differences as opposed to understanding our similarities. We look for the superficial or visible difference. For example, for many years, I played in a military pipe band as a drummer and it always amazed me that people would ask me why I played when I was not even Scottish? I am Indo-Canadian physically and why would that mean that I should not associate with something I greatly enjoy, like pipe music. There should be more of a desire to value the rich cultural history over segmentation. So I played for 11 years and enjoyed it despite the comments.

This is the reason that I have decided that the label that best describes me is humanist. Which is a person who has control of their life and does not let influences negatively impact their perspectives. It is also about focusing on possibilities over challenges. I am not religious as I am open to learning about others. Without judgment, I appreciate the differences we hold and like to understand people and society. My opinion is that no one group is better than another. We are all of the same. I feel that we have created barriers and walls between us. We stoke the flames of rhetoric with fear. For the most part, I have found that people are genuinely respectable and good intentioned. Sure there are situations and circumstances that this does not apply and sadly, the perceptions are easily created on the few stories of people who cause harm over the many who just want to lead a good life.

So how can one be a humanist?
Resist the urge to categorize people – No matter how difficult it is, people are individuals and they are not segmented into categories. See the uniqueness of their being and appreciate what they bring to make us better.
• Have conversations with others to learn about their background and stories – People have amazing stories to share and the more we share, the more we learn how much we actually have in common.
• Travel – Only by traveling and experiencing do you see the world differently. So many people want to share their culture with you and do it freely and with open arms. Even when you don’t speak the language, there is an inherent need to help.
• Spend more time listening than talking – Rather than just telling others about your beliefs, take time to understand other people’s beliefs and respect that they can be different than others. Actually, if you boil it all down, we all have the basic needs of being a good person, support others and don’t do wrong. So are we really that much different?
• Be a community activist over a bystander – Rather than agreeing with the masses, how about you try to engage with communities and make a difference. Be the one who breaks down barriers and walls. There is a need for people to step up and be present. Organizations that are doing community service needs your support and help. How can you contribute to the greater good?
• Love humanity – There is a need to have love overcome hate. To embrace over separate. To understand over misinterpret. We need more organizations like Spark Creations – Spark Community that create a space of respect, harmony and love in the corporate and community area.

So while there is an opportunity to put labels on people, don’t. Take a moment to put your biases and anxiety aside. Take time to speak to others and try and appreciate who they are. Be a humanist and you will have such rich experiences. Lets look at people as who they are and not what they are.

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