YouthSpeak July 2008

Dear Readers of the Youthspeak,

the last month brought some new changes into the IHEYO network. As IHEYO was present with its 7th Annual event, related to the Humanist World Congress of IHEU in Washington D.C., we can proudly look back to a successful conference time with lots of new network connections to the American youngsters, but also to a stronger feeling of more involvement, of a bigger responsibility of each volunteer who belongs or wants to belong to IHEYO. Over the last time period IHEYO struggled with a volunteer gap and some further support from our own members. So it was time to start an open confrontation and a call for support. But nevertheless, Washington gave us again strength and self-confidence through our members and new networking contacts.

Herewith we will give you an overview about our sessions, our new cooperations with SSA from America and will introduce some nice stories throughout the world.

We hope to entertain you, we hope to encourage your own motivation to take part, we hope to open your mind for further communication and discussion.

In this sense, I wish you a nice reading.

Silvana Uhlrich, Communication officer IHEYO

Themes of the YouthSpeak July 2008

(1) Project of the month:

IHEYO's 7th Annual event - "The Future of Youth Humanism" 4th-8th June 2008 in Washington D.C.

Read more about our successful Youth Conference and our new contacts to the American humanists, our programme and new established visions and ways forward.

(2) Volunteer of the month:

Herb Silverman wrote a very entertaining article called "Kindergarten Questions of God" who gave us proudly permission to publish it through our network. Read more about himself and find here the whole article which will give you possibly answers to your own questions and an inspiration of dealing with believers in a discussion.  

(3) IHEYO member:

IHEYO welcomes a new member inside its network - Our first American member organisation: Secular Student Union of the University of Washington. Read more about them in a brief introduction

(4) EC member: Uttam Niraula, our current Interim President in the YouthSpeak interview.

 Read more about his opinion to the future of the young humanist movement.

(5) Humanist Sofa

The IHEYO platform for new way of personal contacts, possibilities to travel and communicate between young humanists. Read more about the soon coming idea.

(6) Book advice: 

"Away with all Gods" by Bob Avakain - Read more about this book with the subtitle 'Unchaining the mind and radically changing the world". Maybe it will also change your mind! 

 

(1) IHEYO's Annual Event 2008: "The Future of Youth Humanism"

Introduction to IHEYO

Imagine you get an invitation from an international network organisation which will hold its next Congress in the Netherlands and would like to see young representatives from all over the world. That was the rebirth of IHEYO in 2002 during the IHEU World Congress. It was the first opportunity between humanist youngsters around the world to meet up face to face, to share their ideas, their working structures, their common goals and visions. IHEU had organised congresses for the past three years and consequently all present youth decided on a more vibrant and energetic way of the young movement. IHEYO was born with new motivation and strength. The second Youth Conference took place in Germany, followed by events in Uganda, France, India, Belgium and US. Why that way? Over the years, it became clear to us that personal contacts are much more important in an international network than any contacts over email and other technical possibilities. People collaborated in an enthusiastic way with IHEYO or members of our network, actively participated in actions and furthermore they felt much more connected with the people out there.    

 

After IHEYO’s foundation, its independence and registration in Belgium, the working structures started to become much more clearer inside IHEYO. Administration always takes a lot of time, but a working structure and the great power of young people made it possible for IHEYO to reach out to many more humanist organisations. IHEYO was able to establish new working groups, separated through the continents, in addition to international events over the last years. Like all other NGO, IHEYO depends on funds that make it possible to realize project ideas and connections between youngsters around the world.

With funds from IHS, EYF, IHEU-HIVOS and HEF it was possible for IHEYO to

-         open a communication office

-         realize a Tolerance Campaign in 7 European countries in 2007

-         organize an annual international event with possibilities of financial support to developing countries

-         meet up within the IHEYO board.

The main focus has been to create new projects through workshops, field visits organized by our member organisations and a vibrant platform for personal connections between two or more organisations for exchange programmes, activities or individual friendships. IHEYO is always open for individuals and for Humanist organisations related to our network goals and ideas of a peaceful life together.       

 

 Outcomes from the Washington conference  

 

Participating in a Humanist World Congress is not only important for young people. As we have seen, the older generations have noticed our events and activities with more or less good attention. We were recognized in lots of speeches and presentations in front of the whole congress. Not only the possibility of being present but also the opportunity for meeting new people from America and other countries make such events much more interesting as it brings new energy into an already existing movement.   

The platform of the Washington Congress made it possible to take part in lots of workshops presented by AHA and IHEU, but also from SSA and IHEYO. As young people went to IHEU sessions, we enjoyed the contact with older members and the stories of their current working fields and life perspectives. Next to the registration and information desk that were possible to reach all day, people from different organisations and humanist backgrounds offered information on their table about their working fields, new publications of books, booklets or other medias.        

 

 

The Future of Youth Humanism

IHEYO used the connection with the World Congress to plan common sessions with SSA students. Planned activities like the station work day from IHEYO which was related to practical and energetic ways of exchange to “The Future of Youth Humanism” headline-related issues. Participants from SSA, IHEYO and the Congress took part in that, for one round or the whole day. The outcome was satisfying and we had great results after discussing, creating, laughing, summarizing over the whole day of the session.  

Station work

MethodCirculation/ rotation on stations: five stations with five participants in each group, after finishing the station, one person stays there while four new members will arrive – the remaining person can introduce the theme and can give input of what happened in the previous round. After the next round, this person will leave to next station and will give the space to another one – each person will stay twice at one single station, so there will be always a reshuffling of the groups, which leads to a different combination of group members for each station. Six rounds are required, to make sure everyone can take part in every station. The person who is to stay is appointed even before the game at the station starts. This method is good for group dynamics, not only in each small group, but also for the later outcome of the whole group. Furthermore, it gives a special learning task to the staying person as it will be asked for a good introduction by the other participants and also to summarize already existing knowledge and discussion material.  

Stations: active citizenship – critical thinking – humanist education – volunteer work – north/south-partner cooperation

Methods:

(1) Mind map: group collects all words taken down in the morning (20 to 30, ideally). Through discussion, their number is reduced to five; these five most important words are put in a logical, eventually hierarchical order. The next group proceeds in the same way, but has to include the words picked by previous groups. This should amount to a big mind-map of some twenty to thirty words.Already prepared points on a sheet of paper from the morning session will be used for finding a hierarchy of the most important five words belonging to the station theme, then the next group has to involve these words in a possibly new hierarchy order while adding five words – ongoing process which leads to 20 to 30 words after 6 rounds

(2) Scrabble: brainstorming words which belong to the station theme, fill them into prepared paper pieces for playing scrabble. The task is to find matching letters, but moreover, connections between two words and explain your decision to other group members. The group leaves the words at the station, but connections between the found words are not maintained - for equal opportunities. Pictures are taken of every combination.

(3) Free-writing: every group member has 5 minutes to write down anything that comes into their mind without any break or interruption while writing. After writing, they will read out their results to the others (at the station) and discuss their ideas about that theme. The staying person will have to summarize the facts while the next group members have their writing time, so the results of every group that participated previously will be included

(4) Collage/puzzle: big wall paper divided into five jigsaw puzzle pieces. Picture material, photos etc. will be provided for preparing a collage concentrating on the station theme. Each group has to fill in one of these five pieces, which will become later on one puzzle – the staying person can explain ways of thinking to find connections between the puzzle pieces

(5) Rotation story telling: An even numbers of participants is needed. Story telling in a circle or square: person A tells person B a story related to the theme, then B to A, meanwhile C to D and vice versa, second round: person A turns to D and tells the story heard from person B as his/her own story to D, then D tells A the C-story as his/her own version. All stories rotate until the original story comes back to the person who was telling it first. There is discussion afterwards about changes inside the stories and ways of knowledge/ education. One single story is distilled out of the several ones, the person staying will relate this story in the next group. In the final groups, people who find themselves together in the sixth round prepare the final presentation of results to the whole group. For the presentation of the results, the participants again used different methods to surprise the audience and also to give lots of innovative input to all of them.

The following methods were used for presentations:

-          a plain old (power point) presentation/mind map

-          role play/ ping pong: try to find a theatrical way of presenting your conclusion in a simple way to the whole group/ free writing

-          painting/ drawing: use a big wall paper and pens for giving an painted image of your ideas – this uses the collage./ puzzle, collage

-          images of symbols: try to use objects from the room to explain with their shape, form, topography the theme and your results to the group/ story telling

-          conducting: have a small discussion of which points you want to present and try to make a small red line, then decide one conductor in your group who will lead the session, stand in a row and while getting the conducting sign of talking, just one person explains until the conductor turns to the next person (not in order of the row)/ scrabble          

 

 

Results of IHEYO’s station work  

 

The outcome of the session was successful. People worked independently, fast and easy-going in the small groups. From the outside, it gave a feeling of enjoyment and quick understanding. Discussions and conversation started automatically around the tables. Their engagement in the station was visible, active and aware of the fixed timeline. People took part into serious discussions about their theme, trained their own skills while explaining the matter further, got an overview to actions around the world through their exchange possibilities, handled different opinions without greater obstacles. Some participants left after some rotations or just joined in, which made sometimes a non-balance inside a group, but that was no reason for a constant work on each station. English was almost no problem as the working language of all sessions due to the mass of native speakers, which made the working process very dynamic.   

 

Within the evaluation round, participants could express their impressions, shared their thoughts about the station work and if this session changed something in their thinking relating to the theme “The Future of Youth Humanism”. Sceptical attitudes could be changed into enjoying happy faces, open minds and a decrease of stereotypes. Expectations have been crossed, participants expressed that they learned lots of news things about working methods, other nations, youthful dynamic movement, an easy going process of being connected, creativity inside humanist fields and that they have seen the stations as a wonderful meeting and exchange point for themselves. The day brought lots of hope back to IHEYO as the inside structure of the network has been seen as stepping backwards in 2008 due to lots of challenges and lacks of funds and volunteers. It seems Washington gave lots of new impetus for a new future. Onwards!      

 

Besides IHEYO sessions  

 

Besides IHEYO’s introduction round and our GA session on Thursday, the participants had the chance to be involved in all SSA sessions, mostly on Saturday. Presentations were made about the “Out Campaign” of the Richard Dawkins Foundation (www.RichardDawkins.net ), together with SSA students on-campus in the US, saying that the “A-word” is okay to change the image that there is no difference to others than just not believing in any God.           

 

One of the most interesting joint sessions was the SSA final session on Sunday, where four young leaders out of the American movement discussed questions from the audience to challenges in their working fields, to positions in the ongoing movement and how to deal with all kind of problems. Making a positive movement and a non-fighting position against religion or religious belief was very impressive. Their focus went further to change dogmas of the church, to the goal of making people reconsider their beliefs like we should do with our point of view. The humanist movement should not start a new battle against believers but against inhuman behaviour. To open up understanding to humanist work, the focus of our working fields should be wider than ever before. The church takes care while giving people hope, welfare and morality in times of serious challenges, desperation and emergencies. A turn to church mostly happens during big life crises cause insecurity and things that challenge the person to his boundaries. The church offers a helping hand and support in that difficult time. This is fine as long as nobody abuses this support, this search for help in a desperate situation. But the humanist movement can offer the same services. It is possible and in practice that we are being active through initiatives in the social fields, being present for people in social breakdowns. So what can we cover from our perspective? The same matters, but also freedom from sins, standing up for our own identity, a tremendous purpose for the time we have on this earth. It should be our aim to give people the tools for enjoying their life, to feel confident with themselves, provide the best education to children and youngsters but leaving it to them which decision they make and not being an adult with the right answer.    

 

Each individual is searching for a community. Maybe inside a sports club, a music school, a ballet class – people search for people with similar interests, with same ideas, visions and aims. The church is part of that since centuries as one community. People in the humanist field can also strengthen their community through better networking between all local and national groups and further on the international level. Media creates a platform of community through advertisement and through manipulation of special needs. Everything is promoted to youngsters, why not humanist thoughts? That is the best age, the best possible time to look behind the curtain. Youngsters are starting being critical and sceptical against everything, everybody and mostly against themselves. Making humanism lively and visible, it will be much easier to be transparent and open for all questions and all criticism. We can accept that people have different opinions as we accept each other like we are. So it should be our goal to reach the same for everybody out there. It is not the point of making people secular, it is the point of making people humanists! Life is hard for all of us, so let us take care of each other.     

 

Changes in the American context – one example

Great changes could be visible in the last decades inside America. The best example is the public behaviour and people’s opinion toward homosexuality. Young people do not have any problem with that, elders still have but will not point that out. Grandparents will. So the generation change shows exactly what can happen over the years, how attitudes can change, how people can become much more tolerant, much more open to each kind of personality, to each kind of difference. What a great start for a global world, although we are maybe still witnessing its beginning.

(2) Volunteer of the month: Herb Silverman

Kindergarten Questions for God

by Herb Silverman

All I really need to know, I learned in kindergarten was a best-selling book by Robert Fulghum. The Jesuits put it, "Give me a child until the age of seven, and I will give you the man."

 

 In The God Delusion, Richard Dawkins points out that following blindly what your parents or other authority figures told you may very well have had some survival benefits, because experience taught elders dangers to avoid. Of course, as we move from child to adult we need to learn for ourselves to distinguish which lessons of our parents to keep, modify, or discard.


Whatever our personal beliefs, we can’t and shouldn’t want to shield children from hearing about other belief systems. Children have questions about God. Some don't ask them, some are discouraged or reprimanded for asking questions that make adults uncomfortable, and some are given what adults deem to be age appropriate responses. But for just about all fundamentalists, a "correct" answer for a kindergartener is equally correct for an adult. In this article, I ask ten questions (with sub-questions) that bright kindergartners have asked, thought about asking, or should have thought about. Why ten? No particular reason, since I left out more questions than I ask. So feel free to make up your own questions. I think brief discussions on such questions at a tender age could help a child eventually choose to live in a world of reason rather than a world of faith.

 

But before asking my ten questions, I need to give a caveat/disclaimer: Like Catholic priests, I have no children; unlike Catholic priests, I don’t pass myself off as an expert on child-rearing. However, you, I, and everybody else are experts on God. This follows from what I modestly call the

 Silverman Principle: The number of experts on any subject is inversely proportional to the amount of available knowledge on that subject.
1. Who created God?

This is the first question my Rabbi refused to answer, and now I understand why. There is no reasonable answer to give a child, or an adult. If everything has a cause, then God must have a cause. If God can exist without a cause, then so can the universe. A corollary to this question is, “Who taught God how to be God?” It’s hard to conceptualize a being that comes into existence as an instant know-it-all.

 2. What was God doing before He created humans?

Whether believers think the universe is several thousand or several billion years old, they still believe that God predates the universe by billions of years (or eternity, whatever that means). If God's primary concern is with us, He sure waited a long time before saying to Himself (since He had nobody else to talk to), "I'm lonely. I think I'll create human beings to mess around with."

 3. Since we are created in God’s image, does He look or act like us?

Even children have difficulty picturing God as an old man with a white beard (a slimmed down version of Santa Claus). Trinitarians try to resolve this through the odd mathematical equation 3 = 1, which makes God human, inhuman, and ghostly—all at the same time. If God rests (sleeps?) on the seventh day, apparently the world runs just as well without his active engagement. Robert Fulghum, author of  All I really need to know...” said in an interview for the Atlanta Journal Constitution that he once asked his Southern Baptist mother if Jesus went to the bathroom. She refused to talk about it with him. (My answer: Of course he did. That’s why we say “Holy Shit!”)

 4. Why did God stop talking to humans (me)?

If people today claim that they have regular conversations with God, we think they are crazy. Were those so-called ancient prophets also crazy? Or did they just make up stuff so people would follow them? We honor Abraham for his unwavering faith when he hears God tell him to kill his son, yet we institutionalize people who hear the same voice (and request) that Abraham purportedly heard.

 5. Why do bad things happen to good people?

Author Harold Kushner tried to answer this question, as did the book of Job. There is no sound answer if you believe in a God who is all-knowing, all-good, and all-powerful. To paraphrase God when He answers Job in a whirlwind: “Who the hell do you think you are to question Me? Were you there when I did all this incredible universe stuff, you puny little ignorant jerk?” Incidentally, this is the last time God talks to humans in the Bible. Perhaps even a self-righteous God recognized how lame His response to Job was, so He decided to shut up forever. (Maybe this is the answer to the previous question.)

 6. Does God ever change His mind when we pray?

Whether or not we believe everything was determined long before we were born, it seems like heresy to ask God for something he hadn’t planned on giving (like a missed field goal by an opponent). Doesn’t He already know what is best? I just can’t picture God slapping His forehead (in the image of mine) and saying to Himself (since He doesn’t speak to me), “Good point, Herb. I hadn’t thought of it in that clever way of yours.”

 7. Why is belief so important to God when He judges us?

Children are praised or punished for how they act, not for what they think. They are taught that actions speak louder than words, and I would add that words speak louder than thoughts. Wouldn’t a benevolent deity focus exclusively on our being kind to the people He allegedly loves? Is God’s ego so fragile that He confines His ultimate wrath and vindictive acts toward those who disbelieve in His existence or don’t properly worship Him?

 8. How much better is the worst person in heaven than the best person in hell?

Our binary divisions are usually quite arbitrary. People may vote when they are 18 and buy alcohol when they are 21, but they are not permitted to do either on the day before. We recognize such rules for what they are—as distinctions without much of a difference. Not so when it comes to the cutoff between an eternity of bliss and an eternity of torture. Incidentally, how could we be capable of such bliss knowing that family members and friends we now care about so much will be in constant agony for the unpardonable sin of holding different beliefs? Which brings us to the next question.

 9. Will I be the same person in heaven that I am on earth?

If I can sin on earth, but not in heaven, then I will be a different person. Who will I be? On the other hand, if I can sin in heaven will I still be in danger there of being cast into hell? If God loves us so, why didn’t He just put all of us with Him in heaven for eternity to begin with? Why do we live forever in an afterlife, but not in this life?

 10. Why are there other religions?

My neighbors on both sides stay with the “correct” religions of their childhood, and each thinks the religion of the other guy is false. After all these millennia, can’t a benevolent God help us get it right? And I won’t even get into what happens with people born in different countries and cultures.

 When confronted with problematic questions about God or any inexplicable event, people may simply scratch their heads and respond with either of two all-purpose quotes: “God moves in a mysterious way, His wonders to perform.” This non-biblical passage is from an 18th century hymn of William Cowper, who was suffering from bouts of severe depression because of the notion that he had been marked for eternal damnation by a God who hated him. The Biblically-based equivalent is found in Isaiah 55:8: “God's ways are not our ways.” But such answers lead to yet another thought-provoking question. Should our ways be more like God’s, or should God’s ways be more like ours? Who among us, if we had it within our power, would not alleviate much of the pain and suffering that we see in the world? 

Despite our best efforts, we know that a lot of adults will maintain childish religious beliefs. In such troubled times, I think we should turn with them to one of my favorite biblical passages, 1 Corinthians 13:11: "When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things.” If this doesn’t give them pause, then nothing will.

 

 

Herb Silverman:

Born in Philadelphia, Herb Silverman received his Ph.D. in mathematics from Syracuse University and has been a Professor of Mathematics at the College of Charleston since 1976. He has published over 100 research papers in mathematics journals, and is the recipient of the Distinguished Research Award. In 1990, a colleague pointed out that atheists were ineligible to hold public office in South Carolina. After an eight-year battle, Herb won a unanimous decision in the South Carolina Supreme Court, which struck down the religious test requirement for holding public office. He founded the Secular Humanists of the Lowcountry in Charleston, SC. He is founder and faculty advisor to the College of Charleston student Atheist/Humanist Alliance. He is spokesperson for the S.C. Secular Council, national board member of the American Humanist Association, national board member of the Atheist Alliance International, advisory board member of the Secular Student Alliance, state board member of the South Carolina ACLU, and a member of the National Advisory Council of Americans United for Separation of Church and State.Herb has appeared in a number of debates, including one last Spring at the Oxford Union in Oxford, England on the topic: Does American Religion Undermine American Values? He has spoken at a number of freethought conferences and recently gave a sermon on "Positive Atheism" at a Unitarian Church. He has numerous articles in freethought publications. He also has a book on Complex Variables and a chapter called "Innerancy Turned Political" in The Fundamentals of Extremism. (taken from the website http://www.secular.org/board/silverman.html)

 

(3) IHEYO member: SSU - First American Member

Secular Student Union, University of Washington 

The Secular Student Union (SSU) is a Registered Student Organization (RSO) at the UW where students are able to discuss their lack of faith. According to the RSO’s Web site, the group provides not just atheist, agnostic or otherwise nonreligious students, but all students, with a forum to “discuss and debate general issues of religion and philosophy.”

It is a venue for people to get together to discuss issues involving atheism and faith with no political agenda. It is open to people of all faiths and there is a different topic each week.

Last quarter, the SSU’s theme was religion outreach. The group invited different religious RSOs every week for a Q&A session. They hosted groups representing the Jewish, Mormon, Biblical Literalist, Hindu and Muslim communities. These sessions were extremely successful.

During the session, questions were asked about faith and beliefs of present religious people.

Students knew what they were talking about. This is not surprising, said Michael Amini, a junior and Near Eastern languages and civilization major, who is another officer for the SSU. Many atheists know the Bible better than many Christians do — which shows that they turn to atheism not out of ignorance, but as a rejection of what they have learned.

The session helped gain a better understanding of atheism and agnosticism, and as a result, it was possible to have an intelligent conversation without being ignorant or rude. Instead of causing believers to fall apart, this questioning of faith strengthened them.

There should be more meetings like this where people of different backgrounds can discuss these differences.

The SSU is working on doing just that. While many reactions atheists receive are benign curiosity, atheism is still viewed as OK to be prejudiced against. As a result of this prejudice, a lot of people stay “in the closet” or call themselves agnostic to avoid the stigma that comes with being an atheist.

Amini said that one of the most irritating reactions he gets when people find out he is atheist is the assumption that he has no morals. Contrary to this, Amini said that because he believes there is no divine justice and this is the only life he has, he is going to live it the best way possible. This makes for the view on his lack of morality interesting.

“Morality predates religion,” he said.

Amini has experienced the stigma of being atheist firsthand. Unlike others, who were raised in nonreligious families, Amini was raised Mormon. When he told his family that he was atheist, he said his mom told his sister that it would have been better if he had died, and his dad said he is not contributing to society. He said his parents still love him and welcome him in their home, but they don’t want him staying alone with his younger brother and sister.

These are the types of obstacles that people face for being different that need to be faced and discussed. “Most of the time, especially with young people, our cultural differences act as barriers instead of doors.” (Severin, member of SSU) 

 

IHEYO welcomes its new member organisation inside the international network and is happy to open its wings further to America. We are thankful through our personal contact with Michael Amini from SSU and looking forward to a great collaboration.

  

 

taken from the website: http://thedaily.washington.edu/2008/6/5/members-secular-student-union-discuss-spirituality/

(4) EC member

IHEYO: Uttam, since 2006 you are now involved with IHEYO while being part of the EC? How do you see the development of IHEYOs work and also the structure of the network?  

 

Uttam: Thank you for the question. Personally, I am optimistic about the progress of IHEYO in last two years. It is really growing very fast. It is developing its contacts and strategies rapidly.  Maybe it is because of excited young and commitment. Even though IHEYO is completely a volunteer organisation, I found the team highly dedicated and hard working for gearing IHEYO up. The idea of making a strong regional group of IHEYO shows that the organisation is trying to be more nearer to local people in their local issue. Next good thing I found in IHEYO is, that nobody cares about being formal to each other. It is like a family for me. I can share everything among the team without any hesitation.  Such working way and structure of IHEYO really attracts me.  

 IHEYO: You are now the Interim President of IHEYO and also the head of the Asian Working Group AHA. How is it possible to combine these both seats with your professional education way, your studies or are there some parallels in the working procedures for you?  

 

Uttam: Of course here are many things to combine in my life this time. I am taking this as an opportunity for developing my leadership quality. I take my responsibility learning many things more than just coordinating. So it is also a part of study. And it is fun too. Although, being the Interim President of IHEYO and the coordinator of AHA seems two different responsibilities, but it is not. I am working on promotion of youth humanism on both responsibilities. I am a student of political science now and current issue we are reading in university right now, is the issue dealing how to be a humanist in this world now. And of course I am professionally a broadcast journalist in Nepal. Technically it is a different task, but I am trying my best to put humanistic ideas on journalism too. My reporting is not only collecting and disseminating information, but also analyzing the long term impact of happenings of each event.  One example is the issue of Mr. Robert Mugabe. I use to write this news for my radio at the same time I am inviting experts to discuss about how to make the environment which will kick such a character's people our in our system. While collecting news of Tibet issue, I also get opportunity to analyze the Tibet issue in humanistic work. So what ever I am an Interim President, coordination of AHA or a journalist, my life stance is humanist. I put this on focus and see the surroundings in my every professional and individual life.   

 

IHEYO: When you look back to your active period in IHEYO, what was the most memorable moment/situation for you? And when was the worst one, you can remember?  

 

Uttam: Yes I think I have now full two years experience in the Executive Committee of IHEYO.  I am not sure, if I am acting actively or not, but I am trying my best from my level. Mostly I have been very happy in this period in IHEYO. I really feel lucky to work with such a friendly and cooperative team like IHEYO.  Of course the first day of winning the executive membership of IHEYO in Vijayawada was the most memorable moment for me. Because, it was the first day of entering in such an active position of a globally renowned umbrella youth organization belonging to my own life stance. And the first day of the Asian Humanist Alliance (AHA) formation was also one of the happiest days during that period. It was just after the India conference in 2006.   

 

IHEYO: The latest theme of our Youth Conference in Washington was “The Future of Youth Humanism”: What is your wish for IHEYOs future?  

 

Uttam: The theme of the Washington Conference was really important. I think IHEYO has made some clear vision on the future of youth humanism.  At the same time the young humanists are more organised after this event for a better future. Silvana Uhlrich (Elected president), along with other IHEYO members played a great role for integrating youth effort together. Especially IHEYO role to introduce with American students was really appreciable for the future of youth Humanism. The role of our current treasurer and former President Gea Meijers, former President Lars-Petter and current 2nd Vice-President Sara Wastijn having a meeting with the IHEU board for close relation shows we are uniting our strength to fight against anti-humanist forces in future.   IHEYO is the active youth humanist umbrella organisation. I wish to collect more active young humanist individuals and organisations all over the world. I also wish that IHEYO will spread out its wings in each country in some years. IHEYO will be able to contribute the world eradicating all the human injustice. I wish that IHEYO will have very strong regional working groups to deal with local problem belongings to our youth. 

Uttam Niraula, 24 years old, is a professional broadcast Journalist in Nepal. He lives in Kathmandu, the capitol of Nepal. His Motto of life is: Be Human Make Human.

 

(5) Humanist Sofa

Humanist Sofa

IHEYO established in Washington a new idea that will be soon published on our website. The Humanist Sofa will be a platform for people, who travel to different places in the world and search for a place to sleep, a person to call or just some company on their way. The Humanist Sofa will try to combine all these needs into one platform where people can subscribe to be part of that community and use it for their own possibilities. Subscribe to the Humanist Sofa

(6) Book Advice: Away with all Gods

"Away with all Gods"  by Bob Avakian

  

About the Book

Is believing in gods actually harmful? How has Christianity for centuries served as an ideology of conquest and subjugation? Why is the "Bible Belt" in the U.S. also the "lynching belt"? Why is there a rise of religious fundamentalism throughout the world? In the intensifying conflict between U.S. imperialism and Islamic fundamentalism, is the only choice to take one side or the other? Why is patriarchy and the oppression of women foundational to so many religions? Can people be good without god? These are just some of the questions explored in this provocative work by Bob Avakian.

Bringing a unique revolutionary communist voice to the current discourse about god, atheism and morality, Avakian demystifies religious belief and examines how, even in its most progressive interpretations, religion stands in the way of the emancipation of humanity. A thread deeply woven throughout Away With All Gods! is the need to fully rupture with all forms of superstition, and to take up instead a truly scientific approach to understanding and transforming reality.

Whether you believe in god, or are an agnostic or an atheist, Bob Avakian will challenge you with his powerful critique of long-established traditions and his liberating vision of a radically different world.

 

Comments

Praise for Away With All Gods! 

 "Whether readers enthusiastically embrace or reject its claims and arguments, Away With All Gods! is a book that cannot be ignored."
—Peter McLaren, Professor, Graduate School of Education and Information Studies, University of California

"One needn't be a Marxist to learn a lot from this work. I especially like the forthright critique of the obfuscating epistemology of religion, and of religion's appalling consequences for women."
—Laura Purdy, Professor of Humanities and Professor of Philosophy, Wells College

"Forceful, scathing, and timely. While I did not personally agree with everything Bob Avakian has to say in this book, I found his arguments cogently articulated and provocatively put forth. Angry, humorous, provocative, and hopeful in equal measure, this was an enjoyable and engaging read."
—Phil Zuckerman, associate professor of sociology at Pitzer College

"Lots of people haven't actually studied what that Bible says. Bob Avakian has. He exposes the hypocritical bullshit...this book is serious reading."
—Eric G., former Black Panther member

"...may just spearhead a return to the Age of Reason."
—Harry Lennix, actor, instructor

 

About the Author

Bob Avakian is Chairman of the Revolutionary Communist Party, USA. A veteran of the Free Speech Movement and the revolutionary upsurges of the 1960s and early 1970s, he worked closely with the Black Panther Party. By the mid-1970s, he emerged as the foremost Maoist revolutionary in the United States. He has guided the RCP since its formation in the 1975 and is a major leader of the international communist movement. Over the last 25 years, Avakian has produced a highly significant body of work, and he approaches Marxism as a living, developing science that must be constantly interrogating itself.

Avakian's writings are marked by great breadth-from discussions about religion and atheism and morality, to the limits of classical democracy, to basketball. It is often alleged that a vanguard party is incompatible with a searching, critical and creative intellectual enterprise. Avakian gives the lie to this claim.