Vision, Values and Inspiration
In living with integrity by their humanist values, sometimes at some personal cost, the figures described above offer humanists good examples of how to live. They were characterised by a belief in the power of reason, which gave them the strength and motivation to speak out against the orthodoxies of their day, and none of them resorted to violence. Their values remain relevant today, as many of the ideas and freedoms they struggled for remain out of reach for large numbers of people.
Humanism, with its emphasis on shared values based on shared humanity and on thinking for oneself, encourages and supports the independence of thought and empathy with others exemplified in many of the people mentioned above. For humanists the meaning of life lies in making the best possible use of our lives and our abilities – and these and many other humanists have done just that.
Humanists would locate the source of their inspiration in those aspects of the human character (or “spirit”) that make them question conventions, and courageous or stubborn enough to stand up for what they believe to be right. One may be born with these qualities or they may be attributed to culture, education or upbringing, but they are human and natural rather than supernatural in origin.