Meetings at FMH
These meetings are held on the second Wednesday of each month, generally with an invited speaker. Notes on the talk and subsequent discussion are given where these are available.
The Basis of Ethics – Phil Edwards, Coordinating Chaplain, the University of Bolton
Phil Edwards opened his talk by defining ethics as being about how we decide what is right and what is wrong, involving every aspect of our lives. Everyone lives by a moral code even if they are unaware of what it is. Â Phil proceeded to outline some of the ethical systems people have used, pointing out the tension between basing our judgements on: (a) feelings or facts; (b) principles or practical outcomes; (c) casuistry or character.
We often have instinctive feelings about what is right or wrong, arising from many factors including our genes and our culture. While these feelings should not be ignored, they should be considered alongside the facts of the situation.Â We may also have particular principles that govern our ethical standpoint, perhaps grounded in absolute standards of right and wrong, for example that killing is always wrong. This is the deontological approach, and is the basis for Kantâ€™s system of ethics, under which what is right is about doing oneâ€™s duty. But principles take no account of consequences, and one principle may conflict with another. So many people today make decisions based on likely outcomes. This is the realm of consequential ethics, of which Utilitarianism is the most common form, based on the assumption that the ultimate aim of all human activity is happiness â€“ we should seek to act so as to achieve the greatest happiness of the greatest number. This approach has problems too: consequences may be impossible to predict, it can be difficult to measure happiness or compare the happiness of different people, and the theory can justify what we may regard as immoral acts.
By casuistry, Phil meant reasoning based on principles but which also considers the particular situation, such as the â€˜Situation Ethicsâ€™ proposed by Joseph Fletcher, under which rules are guidelines that are modified in particular situations. People come first and the only foundation is love. However, loving motives can lead to bad actions, it may not be easy to determine the consequences of loving actions, and there is the danger of judging situations from a selfish point of view.
As an alternative to these systems, which all have problems, Phil suggested that rather than ask â€˜what should I doâ€™ we could ask â€˜what sort of person ought I to beâ€™ or â€˜what sort of person do I want to beâ€™.Â This is the realm of virtue ethics, which is concerned with moral character. Virtue ethics starts with Plato, who thought the most important or cardinal virtues were courage, temperance, practical wisdom and justice. The point was not to display one of these virtues but to have them all in the right balance. Aristotle added the idea that humans have a goal in life – eudaimonia â€“ human flourishing or fulfilment.
Phil then asked whether it was possible to agree a common ground for ethics. It is clear that different cultures have different rules and ethical systems, and these change over time. Perhaps there is no common ground and it is simply a matter of convention, like driving on the left or on the right, one cannot say which is right or wrong but there must be agreement to avoid chaos. In a society we need some norms about telling the truth, about standards restraining violence and killing, about the regulation of sexual expression, about appropriate ways of treating strangers, children, the aged, and so on. But there are limits to seeing ethics as completely culturally relative, cf slavery and systematically denying rights to women.
Perhaps we can all agree that the basis of ethics is that which serves our mutual flourishing or well-being. While this doesnâ€™t solve all our ethical problems, Phil suggested it did give us common ground from which to argue, involving the different ethical systems he had outlined – and others. He ended with the thought that communities of religious people, and Humanist groups, have an important role in providing a vision of what constitutes a good person and a good society, and a goal to work towards â€“ a goal of goodness that acts as a constraint over behaviour and an incentive to work for the well-being of all.
Points raised in the wide-ranging discussion that followed include: there were two sides to human nature, good and evil; authoritarian ethics as pursued by Hitler for example, clash with liberal society, a clash too easily resolved by power; perhaps one should ask the underdogs what they want; has our society become too individualistic, there are limits to sensible individuality and choice; issues relating to human rights, population control, euthanasia and animals; was religious indoctrination of the young unethical, also faith schools and teaching creationism or intelligent design; quality of life ethic as opposed to sanctity of life ethic.
Annual General Meeting followed by discussion of euthanasia
The AGM was quorate, with fifteen members present (plus five non-members). The Committee Report and the Treasurerâ€™s Report were discussed at length.Â It was agreed to change the comment on attendance at FMH meetings to read: Attendance was generally in the low twenties (rather lower at one meeting held when central Manchester was disrupted by football supporters).
The proposed change in the constitution to provide for the position of Vice-chair was adopted nem con, as was the Committeeâ€™s proposal that full annual subscriptions for the year to 31 March 2010 should be the same as for the previous year (Â£15 waged; Â£10 unwaged), with the initial subscription for new members joining GMH during the year variable at the discretion of the Committee to take account of the date of joining.Â As there were no contested positions, those nominated for the Committee were declared elected, namely: Guy Otten – Chair; Robin Grinter – Vice-chair; John Coss – Secretary; Chris Neilson – Treasurer; Marge Rose – Committee member.
The meeting ended with a thoughtful discussion of issues relating to euthanasia, framed round a note prepared by Robin Grinter drawing on material in our introductory course on Humanism.
Peak Oil – Jonathan Redfern, Professor of Petroleum Geoscience, University of Manchester
To preserve formatting, the report on Jonathan Redfernâ€™s presentation is provided here as a pdf file. Points arising in the discussion include:
Pollution â€“ the Chinese are increasing their use of coal which affects the environment more than oil
How are reserve estimates made – using geology techniques for measuring various characteristics. It is recovery rates that are hard to estimate in advance â€“ this may take ten years
Population is our biggest problem â€“ increases from 2.5 billion in 1944 to 6.7 billion in 2009
After oil is extracted, it is replaced by water.
Vegetarianism – ethical and environmental perspectives – Annette Pinner, Chief Executive,
The Vegetarian Society of the United Kingdom
Annette Pinner started her talk by saying that the Vegetarian Society has its headquarters in Altrincham, and has its own links with the BHA. She then summarised the history of vegetarianism, particularly in Eastern religions, but also in the writings of philosophers such as Seneca and Ghandi. She explained that there have been some changes in motivations for vegetarianism recently, with religious justifications less dominant and concerns for health, the environment and animal welfare becoming more important.
Annette focussed on environmental considerations, providing data on the contribution of livestock to greenhouse gases (18%) and meat and dairy produce to our national diet (8.5%) and showing how the growing demand for meat and dairy products as societies become richer is unsustainable. She analysed the benefits and disadvantages of meat as a food, in terms of nutrition, the cost of substitution by vegetable foods, the use of natural resources (especially water, where a kilogram of beef requires 7 times as much as a kilogram of wheat) and carbon storage. Annette pointed out that none of the environmental groups advocate vegetarianism, though they advise a reduction in the use of meat.
Annette then explored four ethical approaches. The deeply embedded â€˜Contractarianâ€™ view is that animals are a resource for human use. Human concerns have priority, so there is at best some concern to limit wanton cruelty. This is questioned by the â€˜Utilitarianâ€™ view that other animals as well as humans have interests, and a capacity for pleasure and pain: hence suffering should be reduced as much as possible. The Animal Rights movement takes this much further by according respect and rights that cannot be violated to all conscious creatures. This movement has fostered the growing belief that animals are not for us to use, and that the enjoyment, taste and nutritional value of meat is not a sufficient justification for its consumption. However there is also a â€˜Relationalâ€™ view that works from the concept of a bond between animals and their owners. This bond involves a duty of care, but not a right to life. Annette suggested that only Vegans are truly ethically consistent since they consume no animal products at all.
In Annetteâ€™s opinion most people do not have an ethical view of vegetarianism, but rely on gut feeling. The most general view seems to be that there is a need to avoid unnecessary harm, as advocated by Peter Singer, but there is also an acceptance that lower standards can apply to animals because they do not possess a human moral consciousness. The Vegetarian Society recognises that as this is the case it has to avoid uncompromising demands, and therefore it does not adopt an agreed ethical position. The society emphasises dietary benefits and offers support for those who have an interest in vegetarianism.
The debate that followed Annetteâ€™s talk generally accepted the need for â€˜sensible compromiseâ€™, but the vegetarian position was strongly defended, for health benefits as well as larger considerations.
Topics from a Hat – short presentations from members on a topic of their choice
Mac Norgate gave a presentation on human population issues, drawing on material from the Optimum Population Trust. Martyna Swieczkowska introduced a short discussion of eugenics in the context of modern medicine and overpopulation.Â We then continued with lively discussion of the following questions posed by Guy Otten:
- Is there an atheist spirituality? If so, what is it?
- How does morality arise if there is no religion?
- Are Human Rights a new humanist morality?
- We live in an age still dominated by religious culture. What would a true humanist culture look like?
- Should religion be studied as a part of anthropology, an aspect of neurosis or as an element in the history of ideas?
- Are the expected guidelines to prosecutors (regarding assisted suicide) going to be satisfactory to reassure (a) the public and (b) those asked to assist a suicide?
- Is atheism intolerant?
Christian Humanism – Sandra Palmer
Sandra Palmer put forward the metaphor of a valley, with the more strident humanists and atheists such as Dawkins and Grayling on the high ground on one side, and traditional Christians on the high ground on the other side. She herself lives in the valley. She thought Dawkins et al attack a stereotype of Christianity, as in the 19th century and modern fundamentalists.Â She gave examples of Christianity as a force for good â€“ Wilberforce, Shaftesbury and Christian Aid, but acknowledged that this did not make it true. She thought many Christians see the Bible as mythological rather than historical, as about virtues for manâ€™s journey, not God-made but man-made out of dialogue and contact with God, and a powerful text of virtues, giving a sense of a voice from the margins, eg Jesus identifying with the out- cast.Â She is a churchgoer, and has a sense of â€˜providenceâ€™ â€“ liberal faith â€“ but finds it hard to accept the idea of a god that â€˜revealsâ€™ himself, or is â€™all-lovingâ€™, in view of the pain and anguish in the world. She thought people reach a position where they cannot talk of â€˜Godâ€™ â€“ either at all or â€˜as a beingâ€™. But she still finds theological reasons for not being a Humanist.Â She likes to take communion, with its sense of sharing, and likes the language of the Trinity, expressing a sense of the transcendent. She went away from church for a long time but missed going to church. Though not believing â€˜in Godâ€™ as a being, and giving up on dogma, she was drawn back when she gave up on faith. She finds that going to church keeps her â€˜rootedâ€™, helping with forgiveness and â€˜duty of joyâ€™. She reckons the church she attends (in Rusholme) is the most interesting in Manchester, with a very diverse congregation and a strong sense of community which keeps people rooted. Sandra likes ritual, community, and a sense of order without dogma, all of this makes going to church worthwhile for her. Lighting candles has a particular appeal, and she generally sits at the back, often looks after the children, and may not participate much in the service.
In conclusion, Sandra reckoned that firing across the valley was unproductive. We should criticise fundamentalism but look to dialogue as to how to work towards the common good and for common understanding. Her talk was followed by an extensive and wide-ranging discussion. It was suggested that most Humanists would agree with the principles she put forward â€“ how could she be a Christian without accepting the basic tenets of the religion?Â Sandra said she was drawn to Bible stories she found powerful, but this was not her only literature. She has found Christianity in the church but accepts that others can find it elsewhere. She doesnâ€™t like people assuming all Christians are the same â€“ and like Sarah Palin.Â Another comment was that we donâ€™t need the mumbo jumbo: Â awe, transcendence and spirituality are inherent in people â€“ why must community in Sandraâ€™s sense be found in church? At the end, Sandra commented that she couldnâ€™t say that Christianity was worthwhile for anyone but herself. It helps to keep her â€˜rootedâ€™ and she thought this was the case for a lot of other people. But people could be good without religion.
Climate Change – the 10:10 campaign – discussion led by Robin Grinter
We discussed the 10:10 campaign to awaken awareness of climate change, and whether GMH should join it.Â Robin Grinter prepared a briefing note that was circulated before the meeting: the report on the meeting (here) incorporates all relevant material from this briefing note. A number of members subsequently attended a Climate Action Now Day Conference on 17 October at which we became aware of the Stop Climate Change Coalition (see www.stopclimatechaos.org).
Whereâ€™s the Equality? – Humanist Chaplaincy in Leicester and Antwerp – Eleanor Davidson,
Humanist celebrant and hospital chaplain
Eleanor began by noting that in both Belgium (where the State funds the clergy on a basis of mutual non-interference by Church and State) and Britain there are state funded chaplains in hospitals from a variety of religious faiths. But in Belgium there are in addition state-funded Humanist, secular chaplains in hospitals. Chaplains from non-religious and free-thinking organisations are funded per institution (though nor per head, so they are not proportional to the numbers of non-religious patients). Â Hospitals in Belgium have an ethical commission, and Humanist counsellors are involved in all decision making. Admittance forms allow for requests for visits by Humanist counsellors. Counsellors are also provided in homes for the elderly, schools, universities, the armed forces, prisons and airports.
This provision in Antwerp is built on 28 Humanist Centres funded by the Ministry of Justice, each with a minimum of 5 well paid graduate staff, trained to help in bereavement counselling, divorce and disability issues. Ceremonies, including coming of age at 12, are provided by paid â€˜moral counsellorsâ€™. The three principles underpinning this service are free enquiry, rejection of dogma and authority, and individual responsibility to create oneâ€™s own moral values and meaning of life.
Eleanor argued that a similar level of provision is urgently needed in Britain. In Britain there are no state funded non-religious chaplains. In Leicesterâ€™s three hospitals there are 17 full-time religious chaplains, all funded from the NHS budget (nationally Â£40 million is spent on the service each year). The provision is based on the declaration of religious belief on the admittance form. However, while Humanism is on the form, few know what it means, and â€˜no religionâ€™ is interpreted as needing religion. Â Surveys show that 1 in 6 of Leicesterâ€™s population express no religious belief, outnumbering all non-Christian groups. This would entitle each hospital to at least one non-religious chaplain. But there is none, even though the Chaplaincy Mission Statement promises spiritual care for patients of all faiths or none.
Eleanor challenged the Head of Chaplaincy on this, arguing that equality and diversity were being ignored despite the claim that the service was for all, and that the declared â€˜access to whatever spiritual care (patients) wantâ€™ in practice assumes that only the religious are entitled to this care in the NHS. She was met by prevarication, but was invited to join the Chaplaincy team on a voluntary basis.
The difficulties that Eleanor faces include: (a) she has no resources or support within the service; (b) she is only allowed to see atheists or agnostics, not those of â€˜no religionâ€™; (c) Christian Chaplains claim that they are perfectly suited to meet the needs of the non-religious, even though they do not understand the need for dignity and respect for a non-religious life stance and often provide inappropriate help and prayer that is met with hostility – one asked her â€˜Have you got any morals?â€™
Eleanor is frequently challenged as to whether she can provide â€˜spiritual careâ€™. She meets this with a non-religious definition of spirit, and the need to reclaim the term â€˜spiritualâ€™ from the religions. She lets people talk, listens, builds trust and gives support whenever any deeper issues emerge. Above all she provides emotional support and comfort that assists recovery without a religious dimension, talking with patients about what they have done in life, what influences and love they will leave behind, how theyâ€™ll be thought of. Freedom from doctrine allows her to meet personal needs. Eleanor concluded by arguing that there is no justification for payment for spiritual care only to religious chaplains. Non-religious patients are being denied an important service. She argued that the National Secular Society is wrong in demanding an end to all chaplaincy provision because spiritual care is needed â€“ but on different terms.
Points arising in the discussion included:
– is a training course for Humanist chaplains appropriate? What would give it credibility?
– the hospice movement is a very important area for work: St Annâ€™s in Manchester has a paid spiritual counsellor who draws on help from wherever appropriate (though on a voluntary basis). Several speakers preferred this approach and were not convinced of the need for state funded chaplains in any form.
– Eleanor stressed how much she needs more support from the BHA beyond a proposed pilot scheme. Â Â In her view, if the BHA does not move into provision in the community: â€˜Humanism will remain an elitist, intellectual organisation and leave the majority at the mercy of the religiousâ€™.
Special General Meeting followed by informal social
Robin Grinter introduced the discussion by reference to the paper distributed with the November Newsletter, which updated his original paper to reflect points arising from the October meeting, at which there was general consensus that GMH should affiliate to the 10:10 campaign. After extensive discussion the resolution â€˜That Greater Manchester Humanists affiliate to the 10:10 campaignâ€™ was not carried â€“ the final vote being 7 for the motion and 9 against, with one abstention.Â Individual members and supporters can of course sign up to the campaign, which is still open.
In the discussion, a number of points arose which had not been made at the October meeting. Several members felt that affiliation would not make any difference to the â€˜greenâ€™ behaviour of individual members and thought that GMHÂ joining the 10:10Â campaign would make little practical difference, and might result in our meetings being skewed a little towards â€˜greenâ€™ concerns and away from more philosophical/ethical humanist issues. There were several places where green matters could be discussed and addressed, GMH was the only place for humanist matters. Some doubt was also expressed as to whether affiliation was consistent with our constitution, which provides for affiliation â€˜in furtherance of humanismâ€™.
13 Jan 2010:
The Secular Medical Forum – Dr Mark Savage, Consultant Physician and Chair NE Manchester Diabetes Network
Dr Mark Savage, Consultant Physician, introduced his talk on the Secular Medical Forum by explaining that the SMF was founded in 2006 following informal discussions at the AGM of the National Secular Society. He then outlined the positions taken by this developing group on a range of ethical issues facing medicine and society. The following summary of the main themes of his presentation includes points arising in the extensive discussion that followed.
The SMF campaigns for a secular approach and is opposed to religious influences which impinge on the services provided to the non-religious. It strongly supports the right for women to have legal and safe abortions and would like to see an end to the present requirement for the agreement of two physicians. The SMF fully supports the use of advance decisions (formerly â€˜living willsâ€™), and recommends that everybody completes one. It believes that legislation for assisted suicide, with adequate safeguards, for terminally ill, competent adults should be introduced in the UK as soon as possible, while fully supporting good quality palliative care alongside this option.Â The SMF is strongly opposed to genital mutilation for religious reasons, and the use of NHS funds for this purpose. It fully supports embryonic stem cell research – and also the creation of hybrid embryos – because of the possible potential benefits for all those millions of individuals who have, or will develop, illnesses ranging from Alzheimer’s disease to diabetes, and from MND to heart disease (Adult stem cells have a very limited potential).
The SMF is concerned that patient care is being increasingly compromised by health care workers with conscientious objections to a wide range of medical activities. These include family planning, abortion and emergency contraception, prevention of infection by â€˜being bare below the elbowâ€™, and medical education. Some practitioners have made moral judgments as to which types of patients they will or will not treat. The SMF considers that people with strong objections to offering normal medical care and activities should responsibly choose to work in a specialty which does not bring their personal views into conflict with patient care. Individual professionals invoking conscientious objections should provide sufficient information to enable patients to make informed decisions before the point of contact.
Mark felt that hospital chaplains are given undue respect – judging by the size of the room allocated to them at his hospital! Each full-time hospital chaplain paid from NHS funds costs the equivalent of at least two nurses. The SMF is not alone in thinking that spending on nurses or other health care personnel would be a more appropriate way to spend limited NHS finances.Â However, if patients feel that pastoral support is valuable, the SMF would support the development of non-religious pastoral support or hospital visiting schemes. Another concern was the extent to which chaplains and other religious representatives are appointed to clinical and research ethics committees. The SMF feels that only people with relevant ethical expertise should be members of such committees, and that there should be no discrimination in the selection process.
Humanist Schools in Uganda – Steve Hurd, South Cheshire and North Staffordshire Humanists
Steve Hood, Chairperson of Uganda Humanist Schools Trust (UK) gave us an informative Powerpoint presentation on Humanist Schools in Uganda, during which he responded to questions as they arose. He has been interested in schooling in Uganda since the 1970s as a teacher and now visits frequently for teacher training through the Open University, which enables him to visit the Humanist schools regularly.
There is currently only 62% participation in primary education in Uganda. The government is phasing in universal primary and secondary education but has very limited resources so most new schools are private, many being set up by Christian groups. Schools can set their own fees â€“ some are costly and good, but most are poorly resourced. Secondary school class size is typically 120-150 pupils. There are many poor families unable to pay school fees: indeed many have no cash income. HIV/AIDS devastated the middle age group so there are very many orphans. The population has grown rapidly from 6.5m circa 1970 to 33m now. The people are very religious, mixed Catholic and Protestant, with 25% Muslim (mainly in the north).
Uganda is a pioneer country in Africa as regards Humanism. The Uganda Humanist Association is active in the community and provides general support to the three Humanist Schools – the Isaac Newton High School, the Humanist Academy and the Mustard Seed School. All are members of the Uganda Humanist Schools Association, which supports curriculum development and professional development of teachers, and all are located a few hours travelling time from Kampala, in rural areas with little cash income, subsistence farmers, and relatively few men. They offer a liberal-secular education rejecting all forms of indoctrination but exposing students to various world views and developing practical skills. The residents of the area are delighted with each school and appreciate the scholarships provided. The schools are educating some 350 children and students are showing real signs of progress. However, if they are to achieve the standards required they will need ongoing support. They are not really â€˜flagshipâ€™ schools, but principals and children are very committed.
North East Humanists, IHEU and the Rationalist Association each support an individual school. UHST(UK) was formed in 2008 to support all three schools and has raised nearly Â£40k to date. They are keen to avoid competition between schools for funds. Particular priorities for 2010 are as set out in the leaflet which accompanied our February Newsletter. The schools have no government funding. TheÂ support received by the schools has enabled students to study using text books and a computer (there is no internet access yet â€“ but it will come) and to undertake simple science experiments, the access road to be improved at one school, and a storeroom built at another so that books and other resources can be stored securely.
A group such as GMH can help by: fundraising events for learning resources; supporting building projects; teacher sponsorship (paying teachers is a major problem – the cost of a senior government teacher is Â£1200 pa, teachers at the Humanist schools receive 50p a lesson); and other specific targeted fund-raising. They are also looking for funding for a primary literacy programme.Â Long term commitment is especially helpful – lots of churches provide ongoing support to a school in Africa. There are possibilities for VSO volunteers.
In conclusion, Steve commented on a number of general issues. UHST(UK) is working with other potential donors including Water Aid and Norwegian Humanists. Scholarships can be allocated by local community meeting according to who is most in need â€“ and should preferably be for four years not just a year.Â Donations can impose costs on schools. Tied funding is one way to make sure donations are used for the intended purpose, eg sending money to a book shop â€“ but this involves three hours travel to collect the books. Girls as well as boys keep in education if they do well initially. Ongoing commitment is vital. Things can go slowly in Africa.
Drugs in the 21st Century – Mark Gilman, North West Regional Manager of the National
Treatment Agency for Substance Misuse in England
Mark Gilman, gave a rousing presentation in which he first pointed out that the attraction with drugs is that they remove unhappiness and do so immediately: the problem is that they soon donâ€™t work so well and addicts canâ€™t imagine life without them.
The biggest expansion of drug addiction in recent history was caused by the sudden availability in 1982-3 of relatively cheap and smokeable brown powder heroin from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iran which replaced the more expensive white power from the so-called â€˜golden triangleâ€™ of Burma and Thailand that had to be injected. With powder available at Â£15 for a bag that lasted two or three days, hundreds of thousands of youths in big cities rapidly became addicted. This leads to crime to finance the habit, at the earliest stage mostly local domestic burglary. Concern with crime (not for the victims) led to a â€˜war on drugsâ€™ to meet middle-class fears by setting up in 1985 a Central Funding Institute for community drugs teams (19 in the northwest). This was expanded as fear of HIV3 /Aids developed after 1987, adding â€˜harm reductionâ€™ to crime reduction as the policy driver.
What is essentially a prohibition policy has failed, since it has led to more crime and international â€˜narco-terrorismâ€™. Â Nevertheless, by 2010, Â£800 million is being invested nationally in these policies – Â£100m in the NW and Â£20m in Manchester. Addicts are given methadone (an addictive but less damaging and less satisfying substitute for heroin) by GPs. Two-thirds of the 350,000 addicts are treated, and only 3% get off drugs. We now have â€˜three-generationâ€™ addicts, and the policy is a big political issue, especially as use of â€˜crackâ€™ (adulterated) cocaine is expanding rapidly.
There is in the North West a self-help, mutual aid response at the grass roots. Liverpool in particular is seen as a â€˜recovery friendlyâ€™ area. However, this response is based on the American Alcoholics Anonymous model emphasising spiritual awareness and moral revolution. In contrast, a new â€˜substance managementâ€™ (SMART) strategy has developed as a non-religious and rational self-help response that doesnâ€™t regard addiction as a disease and doesnâ€™t rely on spiritual assistance. It is supported by a new North West Treatment Agency for Substance Misuse. Scottish drug strategy is very similar, providing professional support â€˜on tap, not on topâ€™.
Individual case work has been tried successfully – by John Marks, 1984-92 – dramatically reducing crime and prostitution in the area. But this was an individual initiative, not backed by a recognised body such as a university, and hostility from the Royal College of Physicians forced him out (and back to New Zealand).
The discussion that followed raised the following issues:
– the need for decriminalisation, as did happen for a while with the reduction of cannabis to level C.
– but will legalisation expand drug use, since plenty of young people canâ€™t handle lifeâ€™s problems?
– isnâ€™t the need and demand for drugs the real problem?
– what is the way forward without interfering with freedom? Is it counselling to achieve understanding Â of the reasons for addiction, see the need to detoxify, and provide support in doing so?
– finding more meaning in life is the only answer, but support for this is too time-consuming.
Exploring Humanism meetings
These meetings began in February 2008 and have been held at various locations, usually on the fourth Tuesday of the month (with no meeting in July, August or December). Most of these meetings in 2009/10 were held in the upstairs function room of The Waldorf in Gore Street, Manchester. There is often a session on current campaigning issues at the end of the meeting.
28 AprilÂ Â Abraham Maslow and Humanistic psychology – John Coss
26 MayÂ Â Â A Humanist perspective on Human Rights – Guy Otten
23 JuneÂ Â Atheist spirituality – Nick Otten
22 SepÂ Â Â Â A legal framework for Assisted Dying – Guy Otten
27 OctÂ Â Â Â The Jesus Dynasty by J B Taylor – Chris Neilson
24 NovÂ Â Â The new website
26 JanÂ Â Â Â Rehearsal for Humanism – Any Questions? public meeting
23 FebÂ Â Â Â Positive Humanism
23 MarÂ Â Â Responses to a member survey