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Humanist Essay for February 2012
"Let's Talk"
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[Reprinted from the HSNM February 2012 Newsletter.]

Hitting a deadline always focuses the mind. It's the writer's version of living on the edge. But I don't put off my task of writing for the HSNM Newsletter merely for thrills, in fact I've usually made a couple of false starts by the time this third Saturday of the month comes around. Sometimes it takes the good conversation of our Topical Meeting to set me on the right track. While I rarely write about the topic that was under discussion, the meeting fills me with ideas, new insights into my new friends from HSNM, and the pleasant feeling of having stretched my mind and imagination. I came away from the January meeting thinking, "It's not 'just talk.'"

I hear that from time to time: "We humanists need to do more than just sit around and talk." I completely agree, especially in the context of how HSNM goes about our education mission. We have to attract some attention in order to bring people to our Speaker Meetings and our Humanist Sunday School, to our website and newsletter and the many resources they reference. One of the best ways for us to get attention and convey our humanist ideals to the wider public is to be out there working visibly in the community on humanist causes. Since a humanist cause is just about anything that reduces suffering, increases personal freedom, promotes social justice, or elevates humanity, there is simply no end to the possibilities for "doing."

So how do we decide what to do? How do we organize? How do we convey to associates in the field what humanism is, what HSNM is, and why we work under the umbrella of a humanist organization? For that matter, how do we process the experiences, rise to the challenges and share the "aha moments" that result from getting out there and working in the community? Regardless of the format or the topic, this is what our "talking" meetings provide every single month - a venue in which to articulate and broaden our opinions and observations of life and society. To be in the company of caring, thoughtful people who are focused on both the objective reality of the world "out there" and the deep inner mysteries of consciousness and emotion is utterly affirming and inspiring. That's not just me cheerleading - I hear it time and again from members old and new.

We had 17 people at January's Topical Meeting. If you sat down and took an inventory of the professional, volunteer, creative and educational pursuits of the assembled, it would blow your mind. I have found this to be true of any and every gathering of HSNM members and prospective members in any number and combination. The breadth of experience our group comprises (which takes some probing to uncover since this is not a boastful bunch) informs our meetings such that they never fail to educate, challenge, and energize.

When HSNM asks for your involvement, it is not the "Uncle Sam Needs You!" appeal for an army of rough cut followers who will be shaped body and mind to the service of a hierarchical machine. We are not proselytizing for a higher power or loftily ordained mission. We are seeking individuals in all their individuality and diversity to shape and enrich our organization from the ground up. It's a lot of talk, but not just talk. I hope more of you will use this Newsletter to join the conversation, to let us know about what you think is worth doing to back up the talk, and to find other members to team up with who are also looking for outlets for humanist and humanitarian action.

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Copyright © 2012 Zelda Gatuskin

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