Every new year, many people will see a deluge of certain types of messages on social media. A barrage of messages commemorating the year that has passed, and countless messages of goodwill and hope for the coming year.
As a humanist with many religious friends and family members, I often see invocations asking for protection for friends and family aimed at different gods and different envisionments of God going into the new year. These messages are heartfelt and they are invariably well-received since many of my friends and family members are both theists themselves and live in spaces where theists are abundant which leads to many of their friends also being theists. Today I wanted to share my perspective as a humanist on the new year and the opportunities that I feel accompany this time of the year.
While I won’t speak for anyone else, I do not believe in fate. My position is that our actions are fully our own and that therefore our choices have weight. I do not believe we are merely playing a part in an eerie cosmic play, or that our movements were planned by forces beyond our comprehension eons before our most distant ancestors were ever conceived. I firmly believe in humanity and in the idea that our decisions play a role in the shape of the world around us. There is a beauty to this position that I often feel that people discount: it makes it so that every day is an opportunity.
I find that the new year is a wonderful time to sit and contemplate our role in the world around us. As a humanist who does not believe in fate I find that my position here makes me thoughtful and considerate when I consider my role in the world around me. I am also human and don’t always consider the weight of my words and actions as thoughtfully as I should, nonetheless, this time of year tends to make me feel a bit more introspective and philosophical and that allows me to have a firm appreciation of the beautiful opportunity and hope that accompanies the month of January.
January is a special time of year in the minds and hearts of many. There is something… almost magical about the prospect of being done with a calendar and starting a whole new one. When we gaze at a new calendar there is an excitement that fills many of us. Whether it’s the excitement that comes with feeling new opportunities or the hope that the celebration of our favorite holidays will be even better this year than they were last year, there’s something that stirs many of our hearts when we think about January.
If you ask me to succinctly describe my position on this matter I’d give you a simple, somewhat poetic response. I’d tell you that, to me, the new year feels like when someone first walks into an art class and sees a new canvas waiting for them. I get excited at the prospect of creating something new, something that fills other people with delight, curiosity, and hope. And as a humanist, that feeling extends, to an admittedly somewhat lesser and more mundane extent, to every day.
As a humanist, and to some degree as an optimist, when I think of a new year or a new day I think of it as an opportunity. I don’t see myself as needing protection, I see myself as having a new chance to not only make my life better but also to make other people’s lives better. I hope that my contributions, on as many scales as possible, make the lives of other people happier and more fulfilled, and when I think of the new year I think of all the chances I’ll have to inch closer to that goal.
To me, a new year represents the largest collection of chances I’ll have to make other people’s lives better. As a physically disabled freelance writer, it isn’t always easy for me to directly contribute to the happiness and well-being of other people, but I hope that what I create can entertain, educate, and otherwise incite positive feelings that allow me to leave a mark on the lives of those who stumble across my works on the internet.
From one humanist to another, here’s hoping your 2024 ends up being a beautiful and joy-filled year. Let’s make this year one where our goals align with our humanistic values and we get to make the lives and hearts of our families and friends as peaceful and serene as we all deserve!
Actions and choices to improve lives in the new year.
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