IHEYO organized successfully its 7th annual event in June 2008 in cooperation with IHEU and the American Humanist Alliance AHA at the Humanist World Congress in Washington D.C..
Participating in a Humanist World Congress is not only important for young people. As we have seen, the older generations have noticed our events and activities with more or less good attention. We were recognized in lots of speeches and presentations in front of the whole congress. Not only the possibility of being present but also the opportunity for meeting new people from America and other countries make such events much more interesting as it brings new energy into an already existing movement. The platform of the Washington Congress made it possible to take part in lots of workshops presented by AHA and IHEU, but also from SSA and IHEYO. As young people went to IHEU sessions, we enjoyed the contact with older members and the stories of their current working fields and life perspectives. Next to the registration and information desk that were possible to reach all day, people from different organisations and humanist backgrounds offered information on their table about their working fields, new publications of books, booklets or other medias.
The Future of Youth Humanism
IHEYO used the connection with the World Congress to plan common sessions with SSA students. Planned activities like the station work day from IHEYO which was related to practical and energetic ways of exchange to “The Future of Youth Humanism” headline-related issues. Participants from SSA, IHEYO and the Congress took part in that, for one round or the whole day. The outcome was satisfying and we had great results after discussing, creating, laughing, summarizing over the whole day of the session.
Besides IHEYO sessions Besides IHEYO’s introduction round and our GA session on Thursday, the participants had the chance to be involved in all SSA sessions, mostly on Saturday. Presentations were made about the “Out Campaign” of the Richard Dawkins Foundation (www.RichardDawkins.net ), together with SSA students on-campus in the US, saying that the “A-word” is okay to change the image that there is no difference to others than just not believing in any God.
One of the most interesting joint sessions was the SSA final session on Sunday, where four young leaders out of the American movement discussed questions from the audience to challenges in their working fields, to positions in the ongoing movement and how to deal with all kind of problems. Making a positive movement and a non-fighting position against religion or religious belief was very impressive. Their focus went further to change dogmas of the church, to the goal of making people reconsider their beliefs like we should do with our point of view. The humanist movement should not start a new battle against believers but against inhuman behaviour. To open up understanding to humanist work, the focus of our working fields should be wider than ever before. The church takes care while giving people hope, welfare and morality in times of serious challenges, desperation and emergencies. A turn to church mostly happens during big life crises cause insecurity and things that challenge the person to his boundaries. The church offers a helping hand and support in that difficult time. This is fine as long as nobody abuses this support, this search for help in a desperate situation. But the humanist movement can offer the same services. It is possible and in practice that we are being active through initiatives in the social fields, being present for people in social breakdowns. So what can we cover from our perspective? The same matters, but also freedom from sins, standing up for our own identity, a tremendous purpose for the time we have on this earth. It should be our aim to give people the tools for enjoying their life, to feel confident with themselves, provide the best education to children and youngsters but leaving it to them which decision they make and not being an adult with the right answer.
Each individual is searching for a community. Maybe inside a sports club, a music school, a ballet class – people search for people with similar interests, with same ideas, visions and aims. The church is part of that since centuries as one community. People in the humanist field can also strengthen their community through better networking between all local and national groups and further on the international level. Media creates a platform of community through advertisement and through manipulation of special needs. Everything is promoted to youngsters, why not humanist thoughts? That is the best age, the best possible time to look behind the curtain. Youngsters are starting being critical and sceptical against everything, everybody and mostly against themselves. Making humanism lively and visible, it will be much easier to be transparent and open for all questions and all criticism. We can accept that people have different opinions as we accept each other like we are. So it should be our goal to reach the same for everybody out there. It is not the point of making people secular, it is the point of making people humanists! Life is hard for all of us, so let us take care of each other. Changes in the American context – one example Great changes could be visible in the last decades inside America. The best example is the public behaviour and people’s opinion toward homosexuality. Young people do not have any problem with that, elders still have but will not point that out. Grandparents will. So the generation change shows exactly what can happen over the years, how attitudes can change, how people can become much more tolerant, much more open to each kind of personality, to each kind of difference. What a great start for a global world, although we are maybe still witnessing its beginning.