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Humanist Essay for February 2011
"Just Say Yes"
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[Reprinted from the HSNM February 2011 Newsletter]

Some call it Karma, which is the principle that when one does good deeds and acts honorably, those "positive vibes" are reflected back, and good things will come of good behavior.

Some call it a Blessing, where doing good brings rewards from God in the form of a good life. Some call it The Golden Rule, wherein understanding one's own wants and needs allows one to understand others' needs. It is both logical and loving to suppose that by treating others with respect and kindness, one can expect to be treated in the same manner.

Some call it Science, as in DNA. Each one of us is encoded with such survival skills as the ability to work together and the need for approval from others in our tribe. Behaving agreeably is then a necessary reflex. Some call it Math, in that the more one reaches out to help others, the more friends one makes; the more one's network and influence grows; the more one's reputation spreads, and the more likely that everyone, in turn, will be helped by this network.

You could call it Common Sense. When one participates constructively and generously in a community, all our lives are enriched. We are supported personally by the relationships we build, and in the process we build a stronger, better-functioning society. Whatever you call it, humans are eager to please and to be praised by each other. We like the word, Yes. Yes, I will help you. Yes, I approve of what you are doing. Yes, you are valued. Yes, you can count on me. What is this mechanism that, when it's working right, causes human beings to come together, to say Yes, and to create a whole that is greater than the sum of its parts?

HSNM is a laboratory. Here we explore the possibilities for a humanistic society. Can we live by our humanist principles and balance personal freedom with social responsibility? Can we say 'Yes' and feel rewarded, not resentful, by what is asked of us? What can we accomplish together as a group? How much might we each grow personally by giving a little extra energy to help reach the group's goals?

Since I said 'Yes' to a leadership role in HSNM, I have worked very hard at it and felt very good. What is this good stuff? Has my Karma improved? Maybe God is blessing me. Reason and reflection tell me that all of this good stuff actually comes from all of you. Having more bright, caring, thoughtful, open-minded, helpful people in my life has been good for me. I recommend it. When the opportunity to pitch in for a worthy cause comes around, just say 'Yes.'

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Copyright © 2011 Zelda Gatuskin

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