Activism for Change: The Nepal Experience

  • post Type / Young Humanists International
  • Date / 10 November 2009

Dear Readers of YouthSpeak,

Our 8th International Youth Conference in Nepal has come and gone; and left us with a feeling that we have had one of the best events ever, in terms of decisions, contributions and resolutions made.

We realised particularly that our conference was timely for the Nepalese nation. Nepal is on its way to become a secular country not only through its new constitution but in deed. It is therefore our strong conviction that it is time for the Nepalese to accept multi-religious beliefs and ‘lifestances’. But the vital question is: how can we speak about freedom of religion in a seemingly ‘one-religion’ state? And how can one accept and tolerate a non-religious person, if one cannot do the same with persons having different religious orientation? That is not only a challenge for all humanists around the world, but a challenge to every living Nepalese and humans all over the world.
For us, as humanists, it is not enough to talk endlessly about freedoms, of individuals and groups, without emphasis on freedom to be free from beliefs. The most important freedom, for us as humanists, therefore is the freedom from religion for people that do not want to believe or seek to be free from any higher supernatural chain in whatever disguise. But, how can we achieve true secularism? How can a state become truly secular secular? The whole process starts with a changed way of thinking. For example: India has for years been a secular country, but is it truly a secular state? The answer has to be emphatic ‘No!’. A glaring indices of this is the fact that no party is calling itself secular and almost all candidates are selected out of religious background. Maybe if you start visiting a mosque, a temple and a church, then you can say you are secular, as you show neutral interest to all. There should be no dogmatic way of thinking. The practice of secular movements can show, if a secular state can succeed. The secular attitude is the basic for a secular understanding, a cultural concept.

A lot of countries are, today, fighting for the institutionalisation of this stance, the separation of church and state. The French consitution has done something really great in the past. Before now, the state and the church were one and same but the French revolution changed that. The duty of the state should be left for the state and that of the church for the church: while the former takes care of the welfare of all, the latter should be concerned with the ‘spiritual’ of its adherents.

If you like, you may ask: why all these ‘sermons’? The reason is simple: my mind is sickened by the stance of many global citizens against secular ideals. These are not humanists; these are religious groups who kept on exerting their privileges and power, presently, in the states. Their rigid stance have caused alot of havoc and wrecked the ideals of human rights. This is rather unfortunate!
Right now, Nepal has problems of the realisation of secularism. But it will lose a great chance to change something while following religious rules. So, hopefully the ruling elites, and the entire Nepalese, will take this chance seriously and will work further for the actualization of this serious goal. We will support this in whatever way way we can and our friend down there in Nepal with all our possibilities.

IHEYO, as a group, will give encouragement to Nepalese youngsters; and give other youngsters a voice to speak and to strengthen the committment to popularize humanism around the world. IHEYO is also important for uncovering similarities and differences of working methods, as well as for collaborations. It is a slow process to make people aware, but we have already seen some slight changes in our movements and this gives us enough strength to go further step by step.

Let´s go together!
Silvana Uhlrich,
President IHEYO

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