Personal story towards being a humanist

Shingai Rukwata Ndoro ChiseLling The Debris
SINCE July 2014, I have been writing this column for The Sunday Mail.

This was after I read about fellow Africans who were made to mow grass, drink fuel, eat raw snakes, sexually abused and do many other humiliating things. I also watched some videos of the same issues.

At the age of 13, despite being a minor, I followed my grandmother into Christianity without being familiar about other religions and non-religious worldviews. Although I was an active Christian, there was a lingering doubt as a young critical thinker. I had many unanswered questions. I needed a mature mind to do my own research if there was to be nobody to assist me.

By fate, in 1994-6 (not sure anymore) I was given a Jehovah Witnesses booklet “Reasoning from Scriptures” (1989) by a workmate. My affinity to Christianity lost weight after many questions were answered. I sought for more readings outside the doctrinal confines of Christianity to learn and I never regretted the search for critical understanding.

At the age of 28, I did not only become a non-Christian, I also terminated affinity and affiliation with any other religion. With time, I evolved into a well-defined humanist at the age of 34 until now at 47. During this evolutionary journey, I discovered about sovereign agency and power of causation.

From then on, I did not use religious affinity and affiliation for me to affirm and recognise anyone’s agency and self-determination. I have refused and continue to refuse to have humanity and citizenship to be qualified based on race, gender, ethnicity, religion and nationality.

There is an unrestrained tendency by some who are religious to bully and impose their religiosity on others. Their deity is theirs alone and is relevant to their own lives. There are many instances of domineering Christian tendencies in non-religious or secular organisations, places and events.

Zimbabwe is a secular republic and constitutional democracy. Religion belongs to the private sphere. Public resources should not be used for its promotion. The state cannot hold a brief for any religion.

Its citizens should interact and engage each other freely as humans and citizens without regard to religious qualification or lack of it. This is where secularism comes into effect.

When I was born, I had no religion until adults socialised or indoctrinated me into it. I was a full human being without regard to any affinity and affiliation to a particular religion  I have Christian relatives, friends and acquaintances some of whom are persons of goodwill. We have mutual bonds of affection without consideration of religious affinity, affiliation and practices.

We are creatures of parental union and biological science informs us of the process of our conception, birth and growth. This means religion grew out of social construction and therefore human-made.

Being religious or non-religious doesn’t make anyone a better human being and citizen. What makes us better human beings is when we are drivers for common humanity to acknowledge and recognise individual life, freedom, private property and the pursuit of self-chosen happiness.

What is good is that which is grounded in shared values: recognition and affirmation of humanity regardless of human constructs; honour individual commitments (“say what you do and do what you say”); derive earnings out of honest labour; take full responsibility for the results, effects or consequences of own choices, decisions and actions; and discover and actualise sovereign agency and power of causation within one’s locus of control.

Substantively, morality (concept of what is good and bad) is as follows: Harm – do no harm to another or oneself; Integrity – live honestly, speak truthfully and act productively; Productivity – value excellence and reward “the fruit of meritorious deeds,”; and Negativity – reject the false, hurtful and fatalistically motivated.

In Orientalism, the chief of all teachings is, “Avoid evil, do good, purify the mind.” Plato in “Republic” (380 BCE), said morality was “the precepts of the (moral) law are these: live honestly, harm no one, and give to each his fair due”.

This was later codified in 535 CE as “to live honorably, to injure no one, to render to everyone his due” (Institutes of Justinian). Such sense of morality requires no authority, tradition or convention but consciousness and endless ASK’ing (asking, seeking and knocking).

To a humanist, one should live conscientiously. We need to exercise our own humanity in a better and helpful way.

If you are to judge or relate with any fellow human being based on a religious consideration and qualification, be informed that you are being discriminatory, hurtful and to the extreme, hateful.

Judge others by way of character not religious affinity, affiliation and practices!

  • Feedback: [email protected] and Twitter,@shingaiRndoro. A gallery of previous articles is found at www.sundaymail.co.zw/author/shingairukwata

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