Please welcome the newest addition to the American Humanist Association staff, Member Services Assistant Daniel Green!
TheHumanist.com: What is your educational and work background?
I graduated from Georgetown University in 2013 with a degree in government. After that, for two years I worked for the Secular Coalition for America, which lobbies for church-state separation and for increasing respect and visibility for nontheists.
TheHumanist.com: How did you first learn about humanism?
I think I first learned about humanism through Kurt Vonnegut. I read a number of his novels in high school and did a research paper on him for a literature class. At the time I was looking for alternatives to religion, or at least seeing what else was out there, so I discovered his work at a good time.
TheHumanist.com: Did you grow up in a traditional religious faith? How did it impact you?
I was raised Roman Catholic and identified that way until I was about fifteen. Thankfully I did not have some of the horrible experiences with religion that I know many have had. However, I did see how religion affects personal relationships, how it prevents scientific literacy and research, and how it actively condemns critical thinking and skepticism, both of which I think are valuable qualities. Also, religion seems to do a much better job of dividing people along artificial boundaries and heightening our differences, rather than uniting people and working toward bettering humanity.
TheHumanist.com: What interested you most about working for the American Humanist Association?
During my time with the Secular Coalition I learned a lot about the American Humanist Association, and I was really excited at the opportunity to continue working in the movement. The first thing that drew me to AHA was its work in advocating for church-state separation, which is one of the things I am most passionate about. The second is all of the great work that the AHA does to create alternative secular options to religious services and institutions. I know a lot of people can suffer from losing social networks or community services once they leave religion, and I think AHA can play a really special role in helping those people.
TheHumanist.com: What book has influenced you the most?
There have been so many books that have made an impact on me, but none come close to Epictetus’s Enchiridion. His work was my first in-depth look at the philosophy of stoicism, and it completely changed the way I see the world and how I interact with it. That book challenged many of the assumptions and notions about life and happiness that I held, and I would highly recommend it to anyone.
TheHumanist.com: If you could have dinner with any three people in the world (living or dead), who would they be and why?
I would have dinner with Christopher Hitchens because he was the first person who really laid out a lot of the issues with religion for me and also because he led a fascinating and full life. I would love the chance to talk to him about his experiences. Second, I would choose Marcus Aurelius who was the last great emperor of Rome and one of the prominent Stoic philosophers. I love Roman history, so that would be too interesting to pass up. Last, I would choose Bill Hicks who was an American comedian who died before his time. He was very funny and also a unique thinker, so it would be a pleasure to just sit back and chat with him.
If I needed some comic relief, I would choose Karl Pilkington, sidekick of Ricky Gervais, as a fourth. If you don’t know who he is go to YouTube right now and get ready to laugh until you cry.