Humanists strongly believe that humankind must take responsibility for improving the world, and increasingly today for protecting the environment that sustains us all. For humanists, human rights, fairness and social justice are right and necessary because they contribute to human fulfilment and happiness and because people suffer in their absence; care for the environment is important because we and other species depend on it, and future generations will suffer if we allow it to degrade too far or exhaust Earth’s resources.
Humanists bring an emphasis on evidence, experience and reason into any discussion on global issues. Humanists take a sceptical view of religious or cultural traditions that limit human potential or cause unnecessary suffering: they would not think an action or convention or rule right simply because it was the tradition or because an authority said it was right. Humanists would demand hard information and reasons for any argument or action on these issues, and might seek evidence or expert opinion, for example, from scientists or philosophers.
One insight that is perhaps particular to humanism is the belief in shared values. Other groups often stress differences – in values, in culture, in beliefs – but for humanists the differences are outweighed by the similarities between people and their needs. Generally, humanists judge actions by their consequences and tend to question orthodoxies, and, unlike some faith groups, they value the contributions to human knowledge and welfare made by science, technology and modern medicine.