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And a Merry Christmas
Speech by Ray Sherman
Mr. Toastmaster, fellow Toastmasters:
I had some misgivings when I realized that
I would be giving this speech during the Christmas season. Then I
had some second thoughts and figured that this might be the best time of
the year to be giving this speech. This is the time of the year when
we hear the motto "Peace on earth to men of good will," and that's really
what this speech is about. I'm a Humanist, and you've probably been
hearing the term "Humanist" -- and "Humanism" -- used mostly in a derogatory
sense these days, so I'd like to take this opportunity this evening --
during the season of the year when tolerance is emphasized -- to tell you
a little bit about what I believe a Humanist is.
The part of the Humanist philosophy that I
strongly about was summed up very well by Thomas Jefferson
when he said that he swore "eternal hostility against every
form of tyranny over the mind of man." Humanists certainly
don't agree on everything, but I think one thing that they
would all agree on is that they are all what is sometimes referred
as "free thinkers." And that means that they believe that we
all have the right -- and the ability -- to make up our own minds
as to the rightness or wrongness of any issue. This means
that Humanists reject dogmas of every kind. Political dogmas,
sociological dogmas, psychological dogmas -- and religious dogmas.
Now, people with this kind of moral outlook
said to believe in what is known as "situational ethics."
And what is usually inferred here is that this type of ethics
is without any real foundation, or moral authority. Well,
I don't believe that. And most Humanists believe that we all
have an innate, biological sense of morality -- based on what's
good for humanity in general. I think this basic Humanist
moral philosophy could be stated in this way: That which is
good is that which has positive survival value for the human
species; and that which is evil is that which has negative
survival value for the human species.
All of this usually leads up to the big question
one most asked of Humanists -- "But do you believe there is
a God?" Well, if you're speaking of the God of the Old Testa-
ment, there's a quick answer to that one: Most Humanists are
agnostic on that point. That means they acknowledge the
possibility that Jehovah exists, but they also acknowledge
the possibility that He doesn't. Of course, there are many
other definitions of God these days. And some Humanists
would say, "Yes, I believe in the God within: the source of
So it seems the basic Humanist belief is that
have the ability -- and duty -- to make up our own minds on
all issues using our capacity to reason and our innate sense
of right and wrong.
Another Humanist belief that I really like
-- and one
that I don't think has been emphasized enough -- is what one
Humanist recently referred to as "the health of laughter."
He went on to say, "We dare not forget to have the good sense
to laugh at ourselves, and never to ignore the foolishness of
the human condition even in our tears!" So in that spirit I'd
like to read you something I composed called "The Humanist
I pledge allegiance to Humanity,
And to the mammalian species for which it stands.
One race -- with a well-defined value system,
With liberty, justice and biological immortality for all.
Hear Ray Sherman's piano playing at Ray
Sherman Radio 1
Hear Ray Sherman's favorite classic-jazz records at Ray
Sherman Radio 2
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