Warmest wishes as we head into the holiday season and the end of 2023. With this time of year, there are many emotions and feelings that each of us experience: often good but sometimes not so much. Please keep in mind all that are in your social circles who might be struggling. All of us are, in our own ways, but now is a time of year that can be really tough for some. Find ways to reach out: a note, a call, a message or even something more.
I want to express my gratitude to you all and to send my well wishes to you as well. I hope that 2023 can close out the way you would like it to and for there to be hope and prosperity to each of you in 2024. The world is in tremendous transition (obviously) and there is much to be hopeful for. Now is the time for the “Good Trouble” that John Lewis spoke of. It is also the time of being a “helper” as Mr. Fred Rogers encouraged us to find in times of crisis. Find your voice, the world needs you.
As always, I see you and see your value to this world, this community, to our Humanist organization and to the bigger whole of how we are genuinely trying to make the world a better place. You have my commitment to continue using my voice even until it shakes, if necessary.
Seasons greetings and we would love to see you at our Humanlight celebration this month. It will be wonderful time for renewal, connection and friendship. Bring a friend with you.
Melanie White-Curtis, President
HumanLight is a Humanist holiday celebrated annually on 23 December, created to provide a specifically Humanist celebration during the western world’s holiday season. The New Jersey Humanist Network founded the holiday in 2001 for secular people to commemorate the December holiday season without encroaching on other adjacent holidays such as Christmas and Winter Solstice. It was recognized by the American Humanist Association in 2004.
HumanLight is a secular holiday that focuses on “positive, secular human values of reason, compassion, humanity and hope”.
Start your own traditions: food, candles to symbolize reason, hope, compassion, and humanity, and service projects.
The Humanist WEBSITE: The Humanist
PODCAST: The Humanist Podcast
THE HUMANIST applies humanism—a natural and democratic outlook informed by science, inspired by art, and motivated by compassion—to broad areas of social and personal concern. In pursuit of alternative ideas, the Humanist airs opinions that may not necessarily reflect those of the editors or the publisher, the American Humanist Association (AHA).
Free Inquiry WEBSITE: Secular Humanism
PODCAST: Point of Inquiry
FREE INQUIRY is “the hard-hitting bimonthly journal of the Council for Secular Humanism. From world-class columnists to thought-provoking cover features to commentaries from every branch of the secular humanist movement, FREE INQUIRY has it all … and 70 to 80 percent of each issue is never posted online.”
Skeptical Inquirer WEBSITE: Free Inquiry
SKEPTICAL INQUIRER is published by the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry (CSI). Its mission is to “critically examine paranormal, fringe science, and other claims.” Some of the founding members of CSI include scientists, academics, and science writers such as Carl Sagan, Isaac Asimov, Paul Kurtz, Ray Hyman, James Randi, Martin Gardner, Sidney Hook, and others.
Skeptic (magazine) WEBSITE: Skeptic
SKEPTIC is a publication of Michael Shermer’s Skeptics Society. “Some people believe that skepticism is the rejection of new ideas, or worse, they confuse “skeptic” with “cynic” and think that skeptics are a bunch of grumpy curmudgeons unwilling to accept any claim that challenges the status quo. This is wrong. Skepticism is a provisional approach to claims. It is the application of reason to any and all ideas — no sacred cows allowed. In other words, skepticism is a method, not a position. Ideally, skeptics do not go into an investigation closed to the possibility that a phenomenon might be real or that a claim might be true. When we say we are “skeptical,” we mean that we must see compelling evidence before we believe.
Come and See It! Climate of Hope and Jane Goodall
New permanent exhibit open at the Natural History Museum of Utah
New special exhibit opens early December: Becoming Jane (Jane Goodall Story)
Climate Warming News
My normal routine is browse news.google.com to check world news. Rarely are there any
encouraging words on the subject of climate change. Canary Media reported that Portugal, a country of 10 million, ran for six days in a row between October 31 through November 6 on renewable energy. The country has no nuclear capacity and has no plans to build any. Portugal shut down it’s last coal plants in 2022 and has imported fossil gas a backstop for on-demand power.
How did Portugal manage to achieve this milestone? First, they committed to the Paris Agreement to be fossil fuel free by 2050. Next, they chose to begin building renewables early and often. Their geography naturally has a lot of hydro and wave power. They have updated aging water and air generators and are working on innovative ways to fully eliminate the need for petroleum based electrical generation.
Other news reports detail how public and private enterprises are finding new and innovative ways to capture and store, or in some cases actually use carbon dioxide.
I think there is hope that humankind might find a way to at least mitigate the damage of burning fossil fuels. We just need to keep working together with the rest of the world on solutions that will benefit everyone.
—Wayne Wilson, HoU Board
Path to Mid-East Peace
Once again the religious are rapidly pulling us into war. It’s easy to condemn Hamas as reactionary theocrats, but much the same can be said of Netanyahu’s coalition. A quote from Edward Said from 1979 resists the zealots and points the way to getting along:
“No human being should be threatened with ‘transfer’ out of his or her home or land; no human being should be discriminated against because he or she is not a fan of X or Y religion; no human being should be stripped of his or her land, national identity, or culture, no matter the cause.”
Submitted by Lauren Florence, Board Member
“The resumption of hostilities in Gaza is catastrophic. I urge all parties and states with influence over them to redouble efforts immediately to ensure a ceasefire on humanitarian and human rights grounds.”
Volker Turk UN High Commissioner on Human Rights.
Greater Good Science Center
The Greater Good Science Center (GGSC) at the University of California, Berkeley, is dedicated to the exploration of human well-being, compassion, and the promotion of a more meaningful and fulfilling life. Established in 2001, the GGSC brings together experts from various fields, including psychology, neuroscience, and sociology, to conduct groundbreaking research on the science of happiness, resilience, and altruism. At its core, the center is committed to advancing the understanding of the factors that contribute to a flourishing and compassionate society. Through a multidisciplinary approach, the GGSC not only conducts cutting-edge research but also translates its findings into practical tools and resources that individuals, educators, and organizations can use to cultivate well-being in their lives and communities. By bridging the gap between scientific research and real-world application, the Greater Good Science Center continues to play a pivotal )role in fostering a world where the pursuit of happiness is intertwined with the promotion of social good.
(This GGSC description was generated by ChatGPT on 12/03/23)
The GGSC offers a free 8 week online course about happiness, as well as podcasts, articles, and other sources of information, at Greater Good Science Center.
Meet your HoU Board Members!
I have experienced several epiphanies, aha moments of clarity, in my lifetime. The first was by far the most
influential and long lasting. I was raised in Utah County in a tightly knit Mormon household which taught me that the LDS doctrine was everything a person need to live a happy successful life. Late in my senior year of high school I was walking from the seminary building and the school between periods when the thought occurred to me that there might be alternate explanations to life. This led to a decade long period of discovery and soul searching. Ultimately it led to requesting that my membership in the LDS church be terminated. That took another decade plus.
During this time, I read a lot and did a lot of soul searching. Eventually, I read about humanism and decided that the philosophy was a moral rudder that I could happily adopt. What were the chances that there would be any more humanists deep in the heart of Utah? On January 18, 1992, the Salt Lake Tribune published an article in the Religion section that reported on Humanists of Utah, an active and growing humanist group! I attended the next general meeting and was glad that I brought my checkbook with me because I joined on the spot and have been actively involved in the chapter ever since.
I came on the board in 2001, when they needed a treasurer. I filled that position until 2023. Wayne said I’ll be elected as secretary when we have elections in December. My husband, David Blackbird, was a member of HoU before I married him. He read Lamont Corliss’ book and said that it sounded more like me than him. I read it and went right to the computer and joined the AHA. I didn’t become a member of HoU until 2021, when he came home from a meeting and told me the group needed a treasurer.
I worked 51 years for two small meteorological companies. I started as a data clerk, learned programming on the job and ended up as data manager and programmer as well as data reducing tasks that are all done by computer now. I was 35 years at the first company and when it was bought by a large heartless company, five of us left and started our own company. The first company was small, the most employees we ever had at one time was 40. It was a very good place to work; five marriages took place between employees. One of them was mine, not to David, but to the father of my children.
As far as hobbies, I play a lot of bridge and read a lot.