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Humanism and the U.N.

by Norm R. Allen, Jr.

The following article is from Free Inquiry magazine, Volume 18, Number 1.

Earlier this year, Ted Turner promised to give $1 billion to the United Nations. This was an impressive gesture - especially since Turner is a self-professed humanist.

Many religionists point out that there are no well-known humanist charities or charitable humanists. Many Christians speak of altruism as though it were an exclusively Christian value. So it is not surprising that the ostensibly secular mainstream media ignored Turner's connection to humanism.

But it makes sense that a humanist would give so much to the U.N.. Indeed, the U.N.'s mission is consistent with numerous humanist values, including tolerance, women's rights, family planning, an end to discrimination, and the attainment of world peace - which is often threatened by religious wars.

There are those - particularly extreme right-wingers - who not only view the U.N. as ineffective or inept, but see it as part of a worldwide conspiracy to bring about a New World Order and One World Government.

Others, however, view the U.N. as the best hope for bringing about a safer and saner world and as basically honorable in its intentions and methods. The U.N. certainly has its limitations - as do all religions, philosophies, and organizations. And it probably will not usher in a utopia. But to paraphrase the former U.S. Ambassador to the U.N., Adlai Stevenson: This organization was not created to take us to heaven. It was created to keep us from going to hell. And rather than relying upon spirituality, the U.N. is well aware that, if the world's major problems are to be solved, it is up to thoughtful, action-oriented human beings to solve them cooperatively.

Norm R. Allen, Jr. is the Public Relations Director of the Council for Secular Humanism and Director of African Americans For Humanism (AAH).

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