I'm not a feminist anymore.
I was at one time, most of my adult life anyway. And I'm happy to say that the majority of my friends would call themselves the same.
True feminism is a range of ideologies, political, and social movements designed to establish and achieve equal political, economic, personal, and social rights for women, and to establish equal opportunities for women in education and employment. The feminist movement won women the right to vote, hold public office, work, own property, be educated, to enter contracts, have equal rights within marriage, and it continues to work to gain equal pay for equal work, and to protect women and girls from rape, sexual harassment, and domestic violence.
In other words, feminism worked to treat women as people. Not property. Not "less than."
But now I think this term, feminism, is outdated and needs to be changed to reflect its very idea's greater meaning: no one is "less than." I submit to you that we need to move beyond feminism. It's time to be Humanists.
I believe every person -- Every. Person. -- is created equally and should be treated fairly, and a large group effort is needed to effect change in that direction, just as the feminist movement worked so hard to achieve for women. Granted, there is still a ways to go (same pay for same work, anyone?), but I don't think we can afford to work on justice for just one segment of the population at a time, do you?
According to Simple Psychology: "Humanistic psychology begins with the assumptions that people have free will. Exercising that free will colors the choices we make in life, the paths we go down, and their consequences..." And every act has consequences, good, bad, or otherwise. Humanists also believe that "people are basically good, and have an innate need to make themselves and the world better. The humanistic approach to life emphasizes the personal worth of the individual, the centrality of human values, and the creative, active nature of human beings. The approach is optimistic and focuses on noble human capacity to overcome hardship, pain, and despair."
Yep. That's me. Or, at least what I strive to be.
I whole-heartedly embrace the ideal that people are born "good." It's the choices they make -- the free will they exercise -- that start to color their state of being, their personality, and yes, whether they will be "good" people or "bad" people in their future. And there are extremes of both.
Although I'm not a religious person, there are indeed, those whom you might call 'saints' in this world. Those are the folks who have decided to, quite literally, give everything they have and everything they are to lift up others in this world. True saints are few in number. If each generation sees one, we should count ourselves lucky to have witnessed that kind of living.
Don't get me wrong: I believe there are so many more people in the world who go above and beyond on a regular basis! A good many of our firefighters, police, medical personnel, military members, teachers, among others... these are everyday heroes, and deserve respect from every quarter. They are the people who make a community worth living in. They are the people in positions for which I don't mind paying my taxes! These are the people you hope your children look up to, and respect, and become in their own lives.
Then there are those of us who fervently hope we will make good choices and raise our children to be the kinds of everyday heroes we admire, too. We help where we can, and we'll even go out of our way to assist someone in need. We are good people, except when we're not; but at least we have the grace to feel bad when we knowingly don't exercise good judgment or knowingly don't make a good choice. We feel guilt for hurting someone else, and make amends where we can. "I'm sorry" are two words good people aren't afraid to say.
There are those people who really don't care about anyone but themselves. It's a dark and lonely place to be, but they don't see it that way because they are dazzled by their own shallow glow. Narcissists. You know one when you meet one, because they have an innate need to dampen everyone else's light, so they don't have to compete. Life is all about them. Everything is personal -- good and bad. And they will let you know it is ALWAYS someone ELSE'S fault/doing/being/saying. We can only hope these Islands of Ones and Onlies will someday wake up and see they are alone in a sea of other narcissists.
Unfortunately, there are people who choose to become just plain evil. We have seen evil in history's genocides. We have seen evil in people who who hurt and torture others, including animals, "just because." We see evil in those who want anyone who doesn't believe what they believe to be judged and damned. Evil is hate in action. It's what's left when the self burns away everything else in order to gain what it believes is "power." It's what's left when someone has convinced themselves that others are "less than." But because there is always someone else who will come along and wrest that power from them, one way or another, there is eventually nothing left but evil in these people.
What does it truly cost each one of us to treat everyone as we wish to be treated? How does one person's gender, sexual orientation, race, marriage, religious outlook, height, weight, whether or not they have children, eye color, age, or favorite drink between Coke and Pepsi affect you? Really, I'm asking: how does it affect you if someone doesn't believe exactly as you believe? You won't be friends? Ok, don't invite them to your house for dinner. But don't for one moment think they are "less than". Believing -- and acting -- otherwise leads to narcissistic and evil choices. Don't let's go there, ok?
I am a Humanist. I believe we all have the ability to be saints, but we have more opportunities to be the everyday heroes and good people. Let's go there instead.