Letters to the Editor

For HumanistNetworkNews.org
Jan.  20, 2010

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Religion of little help in Haiti

My first question upon hearing about the devastating earthquake in Haiti and realizing the enormity of the situation and its effect on the poorest people in the Western hemisphere was, "Where is God?" If God existed, would he not prevent catastrophes and human suffering?

Numerous wars on our planet are human-created catastrophes that also cause major suffering and destruction for those caught in battle zones. Humans create weapons of mass destruction and maintain standing armies supposedly for defense against each other. The question therefore should be: "Are we not all one human race?"

And can life ever be peaceful on our planet as long as intolerant religious fanatics are among us?

–Alfred Buckland, Atlanta, Ga.



Humanists speak out about war and peace

(Re: Peace and Justice are Worth Fighting for, Humanist Network News, Jan. 13, 2010.)

Jende Huang's column about war and peace glosses over perhaps the most salient fact about the American wars in Iraq and Afghanistan: it is the Iraqis and the Afghans who have suffered from our taking war to their countries. What right do I or Jende Huang have to decide that it is humanistic to engage in war, which has killed over a million Iraqis and tens of thousands of Afghans? What gives any third party the right to decide to cause the deaths of millions of people for some noble purpose? Do those who will die get to have a say in a policy that will lead to their deaths?

Indeed, the suffering of Afghan women and the domestic enemies of Saddam Hussein should concern all humanists. But it does not follow that engaging in war to liberate them is the best course of action. Huang's condemnation of the "left" for opposing the wars is misplaced. Defending oneself seldom offends humanistic values, but war always does.

Greg Mortensen has done more to liberate women in Afghanistan by building schools for girls than has anyone in the American military. And he did it without one gun being fired or a bomb dropped.

War is organized violence and, except in extraordinary circumstances, not in keeping with the humanistic values I hold.

–Lamar Hankins, San Marcos, Texas

(Re: Peace and Justice are Worth Fighting for, Humanist Network News, Jan. 13, 2010.)

I find the article by Jende Huang shocking, to put it mildly.

As an American and a person who has her roots in the Middle East, I am disturbed to see real human beings (mothers, fathers, children, brothers, sisters, grandparents, aunts, uncles, friends, husbands and wives) killed in countries of this region with funding from our tax dollars and while being cheered on under the guise of defending human rights by the likes of Huang.

In the Humanist Manifesto III it says, "Humanists long for and strive toward a world of mutual care and concern, free of cruelty and its consequences, where differences are resolved cooperatively without resorting to violence. The joining of individuality with interdependence enriches our lives, encourages us to enrich the lives of others, and inspires hope of attaining peace, justice and opportunity for all."

Clearly humanism and peace are synonymous. How can one be a humanist and advocate militarism and war?

–Armineh Noravian , California

(Armineh Noravian is the president of the Humanist Community in Silicon Valley.)

(Re: A Humanist Path to Peace, Humanist Network News, Jan. 13, 2010.)

"War is hell." That's beyond dispute, but humanists like Jeff Nall, who make universal declarations against war, never deal adequately or at all with the issue of unprovoked aggression designed to destroy or enslave. It is true that non-violent resistance can be effective. However, no one should fool himself that such a path is either without horrific human costs or always workable. Think of Pol Pot and Hitler. Yes, war is hell, but the alternative is sometimes a million-degrees hotter.

–Robert Henry, St. Catherine, Jamaica (West Indies)