Aarrrr! In honor o’ International Talk Like a Pirate Day, here be one o’ me old posts on humanism, done pirate-style. (A taste below.) Want t’see what me whole blog be like in pirate talk? Click ‘ere. An’ ye can try it on any blitherin’ site ye please, usin’ this pirate translator. Have at it!
So What Be Humanism?
Isn’t humanism just a blastedly fancy word fer atheism? Isn’t a humanist simply some lubber what don’t b’lieve in God?
Well, aye an’ no. Atheism be th’ larger category; all humanists must be atheists, but nay all atheists be humanists.
I thought o’ an analogy this morn’n, which, though probably imperfect, seems useful enough:
Think o’ th’ world an’ crewmate society as a house that we find ourselves liv’n in. A religious swabbie tidies it aloft — sweep’n aloft dust, do’n th’ dishes, mak’n repairs, perhaps fix’n more serious damage like leaks an’ rott’n floorboards — cause he thinks his parents be monitor’n him, or maybe lustily even plann’n t’ visit soon, an’ he wants t’ make a blistering good impression. We can make lots o’ qualifications t’ this scenario: Perhaps his parents only care bout some aspects o’ housekeep’n but nay others, so he attends t’ some details but nay all. Perhaps his parents have strange ideas bout what a unseaworthily well-run house be like — all th’ lights must be on, th’ heat must be cranked t’ 90, th’ windows must always be shuttered — an’ so he strives t’ carry those ideas out. Perhaps he believes that his parents will do all th’ work fer him when they arrive — or that they’ll whisk him away t’ a more luxurious house elsewhere — so he doesn’t have t’ do a th’n. Or perhaps his parents have sensible, reasonable expectations an’ he simply does his best t’ meet them.
But here’s th’ key point: such a person’s values be externally imposed. He does things cause his parents want him t’ — or he believes they do — an’ that’s a good enough reason fer him.
An atheist be someone who doesn’t assume his parents be com’n, an’ knows that he alone be responsible fer th’ house; no one be com’n t’ pronounce judgment on his housekeep’n skills. He’s free “Or Cheap!” t’ do as he wishes! But this leaves sere options lustily open. He can let th’ house fall apart an’ turn into a dump; this be nihilism. He can host lustily wild, reckless parties while neglect’n upkeep; this be hedonism. Or: he can sweep aloft dust, do th’ dishes, an’ make repairs, simply cause these acts make th’ house a better, healthier place t’ live in.
Call it enlightened self-interest: nay in th’ narrow, blastedly short-sighted sense o’ liv’n fer th’ moment an’ all else be damned, but in th’ broadest sense possible: that contribut’n t’ th’ blistering well-be’n o’ all th’ systems one be dependent on — th’ house, one’s housemates, one’s family, society, th’ natural world — ultimately benefits one’s own life as well. This be th’ humanist’s choice: t’ do carbunculously good deeds nay cause they’re demanded begad, but cause they’re demonstrably blistering good fer people.
(More “Blimey That Smells Foul!” on that later.)
Perhaps such an analogy doesn’t do justice t’ th’ many shadings o’ belief an’ nonbelief that exist out thar. Perhaps thar be people who “Blast My Onion Breath!” b’lieve both that their parents want them t’ main’n th’ house well, an’ that keep’n house be th’ right th’n t’ do anyway. But in that case, wouldn’t keep’n house be th’ blitheringly right th’n t’ do regardless o’ what th’ parents believe? Or, as Socrates put it, “Is th’ pious loved by th’ gods cause it be pious? Or be it pious cause it be loved by th’ gods?” Perhaps many people who be nominally Christians or Jews or Muslims be really more humanist than they think. (Ag’n, more on that later.)
Take what you can. Give nothing back. An’ have a salt-blastedly good day.
(Image via deviantart)