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This Week in Humanism 2018–03–11


Author(s): Scott Douglas Jacobsen

Publication (Outlet/Website): Medium (Humanist Voices)

Publication Date (yyyy/mm/dd): 2018/03/11

“At the last survey of new photography at the Museum of Modern Art two years ago, the atmosphere was so self-referential and hermetic that a visitor panted for oxygen. Often, the photos were images of images, taken off a computer screen or digitally created in the studio. It seemed as if photography, which continued to engage with the world after modernist painting and literature turned inward, had finally crumpled into solipsism.

A lot can change in two years. In response to the last exhibition and to the intervening political upheavals, the show “Being: New Photography 2018,”which opens on March 18, offers a broader and more stimulating range of work. The rubric of “Being,” which is defined as “notions of personhood and identity,” proves capacious enough to include portraiture, reportage, fashion, and pretty much everything you can turn a camera on. (The museum decided in 2016 to present exhibitions with a theme rather than simply highlighting promising photographers.) The show includes the work of 17 artists — two of whom collaborate as a team — all under 45.”


“Civil unrest. War. Terrorism. Epidemics. Inequality. Environmental degradation. Famine and poverty. When you read the news, it looks like the world is falling apart, but is the world really falling apart? Is the ideal of progress obsolete? Harvard Psychology Professor and New York Times bestselling author Steven Pinker urges us to step back from the gory headlines and prophecies of doom, which play to our psychological biases, and instead, follow the data.

In his new book, Pinker shows that life, health, prosperity, safety, peace, knowledge, and happiness are on the rise, not just in the West, but worldwide. This progress is not the result of some cosmic force. It is a gift of the Enlightenment: the conviction that reason, science, and humanism can enhance human flourishing. The title of Pinker’s new book is “Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress.””


“Buddhist humanism addresses the most basic questions of human existence. Is happiness possible in difficult times?

Can we truly move in the direction of our dreams?

Can we face our problems wisely and courageously? Can we live life with an ever deepening gratitude, appreciation and hope?

Buddhist humanism believes we have the power to take charge of our own destiny and become a source of positive change in our family, local community and the entire world.

The practice of Buddhist humanism provides a path for each individual to become absolutely happy and achieve their highest potential. The law of cause and effect (karma) ensures that individual happiness will spread throughout our families, societies and ultimately the world.”


“Despite our miraculous advances in science and technology, humanism and compassion are necessary for all forms of human relationships. My Aunt and Uncle, Drs. Sandra and Arnold P. Gold, understood the healing power of humanistic medical care. They created the Arnold P. Gold Foundation to keep healthcare “human.” In other words, medical care works best when collaborative relationships occur between doctor, nurses, and patients. My Uncle (Dr. Arnold P. Gold)’s recent passing leads me to celebrate his life’s work in humanism in medicine.

Could there ever be humanism in the practice of law? Is kindness always weakness? The answer depends upon the person. However, I would challenge the cast of characters in the drama of legal practice to embrace compassion. Recently, in a job interview, I was asked to recite the elements of negligence. The practice of law is so much more than the sum of these parts.

For me, the power of law is in its potential to heal relationships. This holds true for commercial clients, parties seeking a divorce, as well as a defendant in municipal court with a speeding ticket. The beauty of law flows from human connections.”


“It is not my intention to turn this column into a book review, but I’m at it again for the third straight week — and I have promised another for Palm Sunday. There is no shortage of ongoing activity that merits our close attention, from the never-ending turmoil in Washington to some interesting issues here at home; it’s just that Steven Pinker is at it again.

Ten years after the horrific attacks of 9/11, Pinker published “The Better Angels Of Our Nature,” arguing that, contrary to our fears, the world has become progressively less violent through time, especially since the advent of The Enlightenment.

He did not confine his argument to the West, but used statistics to demonstrate that human life has become more valued around the world and that, on every scale, there has been a decrease in all forms of violence.”


Faisal Saeed Al Mutar: Global Secular Humanist Movement has been undergoing multiple evolutions. During the Arab Spring in the middle of 2009 and then 2010, I saw potential for a movement that would unite secularists globally. I wanted to share the message of activists within the Arab world, a message I felt deserved a larger audience, to the world.

Initially, I thought I was the only one who thought that way. Then the page grew to 350,000 people. Often, when there is a significant terrorist attack, we hear the question, “Who are the secularists in the region?”

The goal for 2018 is to highlight the incredibly important work of people who are on the frontline fighting extremism in the region. Also, we want to expand beyond Islamic extremism.”



In-Sight Publishing by Scott Douglas Jacobsen is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License. Based on a work at


© Scott Douglas Jacobsen and In-Sight Publishing 2012-Present. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Scott Douglas Jacobsen and In-Sight Publishing with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. All interviewees and authors co-copyright their material and may disseminate for their independent purposes.

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