If you’ve ever walked from one room to another to get something and then forgotten what you came for, you’ve seen that what we know doesn’t necessarily transfer from one situation to another. It’s easy to forget. Usually, this forgetfulness is just an inconvenience. But what a loss it would be to forget what we came for in life. Reminders can help us remember what we’re coming for and what we’re standing for.
As Humanists we value our freedom to think critically about issues, to live wisely with compassion toward others, and to promote justice in society. Why do we need to be reminded of things we value so much? Living up to any ideals takes conscious effort and moral courage. Fortunately, there are many ways to keep our basic principles in mind and ready for action.
Art and images can remind us of key values and principles. For example, I have copies of Rodin’s “The Thinker” which is a reminder of the importance of critical thinking. Also, on my computer, I have wall paper and screen saver photos that remind me of other important concepts and values.
Music can keep values and principles in mind too. For many Humanists, John Lennon’s song “Imagine” reminds us of the world that we hope for. And the German hymn “Die Gedanken sind frie” celebrates freethought.
Literature such as Douglas Whaley’s Imaginary Friend and biographies of Humanists can also highlight our values and principles. The following is a poem originally written by Reverend Henry Van Dyke, but I have adapted his poem for Humanists:
Four things we all must learn to do
In order to make our lives more true
To think without confusion clearly
To love other people sincerely
To act from honest motives purely
To trust in reality securely.
Finally, having a community of people who share common values and principles reminds us of what we’ve come for and what we stand for in life and adds to the courage and motivation needed to live wisely.