November 2016

Thomas Paine

We screened The Life of Thomas Paine, a film produced by the Thomas Paine Society at our October general meeting. Their web site says, “Thomas Paine was the one truly radical Founding Father of America, a man who changed the face of the world with his pen. Common Sense inspired the American Revolution, Rights of Man defined the French Revolution, and The Age of Reason called on us to use our ability to reason as the basis for our beliefs and morality. He is a man largely forgotten and greatly misunderstood, yet ironically quoted by all and every political faction in the world today. Moreover his ideas about democracy, equality, slavery, pensions, healthcare, and education and morality would have created a very different kind of world if they had been acted on. The man who ignited revolutions would die largely ignored and distained, yet when he was writing his books and pamphlets he was at the epicenter of world events, literally transforming nations through the power of his words. We are determined to write Paine back into the pages of our history and make sure that the true meaning of his work reaches as many people as possible. Thomas Paine’s vision was a call to action. As he said ‘we have it in our power to begin the world over again.’ ”

Our audience was unanimous in the opinion that Paine’s ideas are pertinent to societal issues we face today. Individual rights should be more important that corporations’ desires.

The film has a long segment where Paine bemoans that he is called an atheist but he passionately defends the notion of Deism and his belief in a personal God. It is this writer’s opinion that this position is consistent with Paine and many of his contemporaries, consider text from the Declaration of Independence: “…to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God…” That is God is Nature. Our current language and diction are a little different, but to me, it saying the same thing, we, the earth and all of it’s inhabitants and features, and indeed the universe are all products of natural processes.

—Wayne Wilson


President’s Report

Greetings everyone. As we head into the holidays I want to say how excited I am about upcoming events. Next week we have Kate Kelly, founder of the Ordain Women movement scheduled, then in December our business meeting and banquet. Soon after that, in February, we will be hosting our tenth annual “Darwin Day with Humanists of Utah.” I hope you will look at our schedule and plan to join us, and bring a friend.

I want to continue writing about my experiences with people of color I started in last month’s newsletter. My next experiences came when I entered the United States Air Force. As I was leaving for basic training, some neighbors in the “Ward” advised me to “stay with my kind.” But at basic training my squadron had men from all over and of several ethnicities. So, staying with your kind was stupid and totally impractical, even if you wanted to. There weren’t that many young white Mormon boys around. Plus, the military pretty much lets you know to pack your prejudices away. But I did learn what real prejudice is when I was stationed at Altus Air Force Base in Oklahoma. I was stationed there for temporary duty as extra security for an aircraft that was being tested there. Twice, while in the 90 days I was there, groups of GI’s were harassed or confronted. Once at a pizza parlor and once at a picnic ground.

At the pizza parlor, I learned that the problem was that the local boys couldn’t understand how us “white boys’’ could be hanging out with n—-rs. They were as mad at us as they were hateful toward the people of color in our group. This was in 1970, but when they learned that we were all trained security police officers they backed off.

At the picnic grounds, we were having a BBQ with blacks and whites but this time with women too. You know wives and dates. This caused a couple of locals to call the police who came flying out to our location. But this was a squadron party and our commander happened by to say hi and have a good time as this was happening. He talked to the police officer in charge and they went away.

I’m not saying that everything was always calm among GI’s on base but I did not many racial problems. In the two fights that I got into that were memorable, one guy was from North Carolina who was always drunk and the other a short little guy who couldn’t stop talking about how much greater Italians were than everyone else. But neither was black. Next month I’ll finish with how I feel about current issues like the black lives matter movement.

I want to end my message with a little rant about a term or phrase I think is lame and useless. The phrase I’m referring to is, “we’re all immigrants.” It seems to me to be a silly exercise. My great grandparents brought my grandmother with them to the United States. They were immigrants, but I’m not. I haven’t moved anywhere. Also, if we were to go with this notion, we would have to call Native American immigrants, as they did migrate here thousands of years ago. Anyway, just a little rant.

—Robert Lane President, HoU


Retiring

Hi Ho everyone!! I have been a longtime board member and am the current Vice President of the Humanists of Utah Board. I will not be running for another two-year term and would like to invite any of you to volunteer to serve on the board. Elections will be held in December with the winners announced at our December meeting.

I would like to thank you for the faith you have shown in me over the years and to say it has been a good run. We’ve had a many fine speakers and events during my tenure and certainly will have many, many more in the times ahead. I think 12 to 15 years (I forget how many) is enough, it is time to move on to other things and for some new blood on the board. Please consider yourself as a candidate or look to your friends here at HoU to nominate.

Thank you all. Ciao.

—Bob Mayhew


HoU Happenings

Seeking New Board Members:

As you all may have read already, it’s that wonderful time of year again when we ask our members to step up, take the baton, and run with it! As one of our group’s newer Board Members, serving officially since January 2016, I want to say to anyone who might be considering nominating themselves or someone else in our group, please do not hesitate! We need your ideas, enthusiasm, and happiness to be furthering the reach of our mission. Thank you and we look forward to working with you!

HYRC Partnership:

At this year’s December Banquet and Chapter meeting, Elaine Stehel will be unveiling a new partnership between our group and the recently renovated Youth Resource Center in Salt Lake City, which provides myriad services and support for the homeless youth in our state. A friend of mine recently told of her visit to the Resource Center to learn more about their services, and right then, in the middle of the day, she watched a teen enter, heartbroken because his mother had just pulled up and told them to get out of the car, saying, “If you’re choosing this gay lifestyle, you’ll just have to get help here from some other gay people, because you’ll never again be welcome in our home.” Situations like these are happening every week, every month, and we can help these teens! Please join us at our banquet on Thursday, December 8th with your open, generous hearts as we invite these teens to dine with us, and unveil to them and to our group members all the ways we plan to help throughout the coming year!

Darwin Day Planning Committee:

Our 10th Anniversary Darwin Day Planning Committee still needs your help in planning our spectacular celebration! We are currently in discussions with the Leonardo Museum, the Museum of Ancient Life at Thanksgiving Point, the Natural History Museum, the Officer’s Club at the University of Utah, and the Glendale branch of the Salt Lake City Public Library about where (and at what cost) we will be holding our event on Saturday, February 11, 2017. The biggest thing you can currently do to help, if you are able and willing, is to send your generous donations (100% tax-deductible) to The Humanists of Utah, with ‘Darwin Day’ written in the memo line, to P.O. Box 1043/West Jordan, Utah/84084—this will help to ensure that we can reserve a fabulous location that will serve the greatest number of people possible! Thank you for considering the Humanists of Utah in your end-of-year philanthropic giving!

—Elaine Stehel Humanist Minister HoU Board Member