Humanist Perspectives: Doing Humanism


This post is part of our Humanist Perspectives series. In this series, we invite guest contributors to explore active humanism and what it means to be a thoughtful, engaged member of society. Please share your thoughts in the comments!

Doing Humanism
by Jennifer Hancock

Being a Humanist isn’t just a philosophical stance one takes to distinguish oneself from our religious brethren. To be meaningful, Humanism must be put into practice. So how does one “do” Humanism? How does one go about being the best human being they can be?

The way I answer the all-important question of how to be a good person is to be ethical, compassionate, and responsible. It’s the last part of this trinity that requires the most effort. It isn’t enough to want to do good and it isn’t enough to care about the suffering of others. To actually be a good person, you have to do something about your good intentions.

To me, the best way to do Humanism is to do good deeds. When I reflect back on my life, the times that stand out as being moments when I truly felt like I was living up to my potential and doing the things I should be doing were those moments when I was helping others.

I’m sure I’m not the only person who feels, upon reflection, that I should be doing more. Obviously, we can’t tackle the world’s problems on our own. But we can do something. Choose a cause and volunteer. It doesn’t take much. For instance, the Humanist Families group I belong to made comfort care packages this year for the local Red Cross. Just make the time to become active. You will feel better and the world will be slightly better off because you made the effort. And that’s the best way to do Humanism.

Jennifer Hancock
is the author of the new book, the Humanist Approach to Happiness: Practical Wisdom. She can be found on the web at