IHEYO: Skylar, since 2006 you are now involved with IHEYO while participating in our annual event in India 2006. That was the first time you have realized what humanism is about and that you started to think about your own world view? Let us be part of that inner change/ development!
Skylar: I was taught in school that humanism was a historical movement in the Enlightenment. It was a nice idea from the Enlightenment that (like the rest of the Enlightenment) was adopted into those Enlightenment societies and is, therefore, just a part of everyday life today, particularly in an “Enlightened” society like the United States. I agreed with the principles we learned and already tried to practice them in my own life, so I thought my teacher was right. However, as I grew older, I saw that many people didn’t live by those principles at all! When I went to the India conference in 2006, I realized that humanism is still a vibrant and functional life stance. (I had never heard the word life stance before!) However, it was a difficult transition to stop thinking of humanism as a “historical movement.”
IHEYO: How do you see the development of IHEYOs work and also the structure of the network?
Skylar: I think IHEYO has moved from its infancy into its young adulthood. At the conference in DC, there was a frank discussion about how the members saw the future of IHEYO. I think this discussion is necessary with any organization in order to make the transition into the young adulthood of the organization. It’s an exciting time of renewed focus and great growth!
IHEYO: You are now a board member of IHEYO and also the first American person from the US in the EC although representing Sweden in our board. How is it possible to combine this work with your professional education way, your studies or are there some parallels in the working procedures for you? How do you communicate now with Sweden in your function as representative?
Skylar: I will begin my full-time law studies in August, so that’s when I will figure out how to combine the two! However, the law and humanist work go hand in hand, so I am optimistic that my legal studies will enrich my work with IHEYO. Though I do represent the Swedish Humanist Association, I feel that my purpose on the IHEYO EC is, first and foremost, to represent the interests of IHEYO rather than any national organization. Humanisterna’s interests are represented through its voting privileges at the yearly meetings.
IHEYO: When you look back to your active involvement/ period in IHEYO, what was the most memorable moment/situation for you? And when was the worst one, you can remember?
Skylar: I most remember the light bulb that went off in my head at the conference in India when I realized what humanism was and how it could impact our world. The worst moment is an on-going feeling. I see the bright potential of humanist ideals, but then I see how people disregard the humanity of others on a daily basis. The atrocities that are committed daily around the world could be prevented, but a job of that size is beyond the capability of any organization currently in existence. Therefore, we must do what work we can and hope for a strong ripple effect. Sometimes this realization is very frustrating, but then you see when progress has been made, and it gives you the strength to continue.
IHEYO: Becoming a member of the EC: Was this a personal mission for you or which wish stands behind your active involvement in IHEYO? What can we expect from your side in this elected period? What is your wish for IHEYOs future?
Skylar: After I returned to the US from India, I became involved in the American humanist and secular movements. However, as my experience was originally in the international arena, something was missing in my American involvement. It felt like such a narrow focus when groups like IHEYO were seeing the “big picture.” However, both types of organizations serve a necessary function in the progression of humanism. Though more difficult and with less immediate rewards, I like to keep my own, personal focus on the big picture, and I felt that perhaps I had some skills that would be useful to IHEYO. I think that continued geographic diversity on the EC can only benefit IHEYO because each nation is at a different place in its growth yet all can learn from each other. This diversity of experience can only improve the work of IHEYO. As for my wish for IHEYO…that’s a difficult question! I suppose that I would hope IHEYO is still creating change in the world 100 years from now!
Skylar Curtis, 24 years old is a student for Law which is a 3 years, post-graduate professional program in the US. She finished her bachelor’s degree in May 2007. Her motto is “Past is prologue”.