In 2010, at a time when Malta may not have been so open to addressing diversity – in culture, religion, and worldviews – as it is now, a small group of like-minded people met to establish a Humanist association in Malta, knowing that, while local culture is heavily influenced by the long religious history of the islands, there are those who have no religious views.
As the world’s population continues to grow, the challenges we face together can only increase: climate change, immigration, pandemics and more. There will be a faster depletion of non-renewable resources; increased energy consumption; higher levels of pollution; greater movement of people from dangerous or poor societies to safer and richer ones; more international travel; and transmission of new diseases.
In this context, the ethical response as a human family must be united, based on a common fundamental set of principles that nevertheless recognize a diverse range of cultures and experiences. This is where Humanism plays a crucial role: it is based on a set of values that can be the basis of a universal ethical framework.
First and foremost is that humanity needs to base its policy on reason and cooperation. COVID-19 has taught us that science-based interventions, enacted in a timely manner, can save a lot of suffering. Covid emphasized the need for a coordinated and rapid response in all sectors of public health, with the free flow of reliable information and objective advice.
The second principle of a humanist ethical framework is to live a moral life that respects the freedom of others (and brings its own reward in the knowledge that one is living a good life, regardless of the afterlife). As Simone de Beauvoir said, one cannot want freedom for oneself without also wanting it for others. As many feel that they are living in an increasingly crowded and complicated world, mutual respect and tolerance are the only thing that makes it possible to live together in a series, and advance the common good.
Third, the humanist perspective is based on compassion. Respecting each other’s freedom does not mean that we are indifferent to each other. On the contrary, one can hardly be called a Humanist if his actions do not listen to the cries of the disadvantaged and marginalized in our society.
Ten years of Humanism
Since its official foundation as an NGO in 2011, the Maltese Humanist Association (MHA), for a number of years under its weeping President, Ramon Casha, has advocated equality, tolerance, inclusiveness, secularism and reason-based morality in Malta, by supporting man. rights and freedom of belief for both religious and non-religious. The MHA was a strong voice during the divorce campaign; supported equality in marriage, the availability of the Morning After Pill, and cremation; contributed to the National Curriculum on Teaching Ethics in Schools; advocating for women’s rights and LGBTQ +; and contributes to debates in the press and social media on such as the Constitution and racism. He believes in the autonomy of the body, and therefore supports both the woman’s right to choose, and the right to die. Since 2015 MHA celebrants have helped to mark important life events such as funerals or souvenirs, weddings and baby welcomes, in a secular but very personal way.
The MHA is a secularist organization, calling for the separation of church and state to ensure equal treatment, and tolerance, for all. We do not believe in any divinity, but we respect the beliefs of those who think otherwise, and we are avowedly not anti-religious. We fully support freedom of thought, religion and belief, and all internationally recognized human rights, and we detest unjust discrimination in any form. We only pray that our rational and ethical approach to life be recognized and accepted as an equal, alternative, but not threatening, worldview.
In the 2021 State of the Nation survey, 7% of respondents did not believe in God, and 40% disagreed that religion is important to them. If these figures can be extrapolated to the current population of Malta, it appears that around 35,000 people living on these islands are atheists while religion is not important to many more: A non-religious ethical voice definitely needs to be heard. in an increasingly diverse and multicultural way. society.
We have made a lot of progress since the beginning, and now we have some 2,000 followers. But much remains to be done before we see a completely neutral state on issues of religion, belief, or lack thereof, and the acceptance that, like other minorities in Malta, Humanists are part of the community, which does not do not carry others. will, but differ on religion – though not, in many cases, on other fundamental values.
We will continue to work for a focus on a rational and constructive dialogue with the Maltese community. To this end, we are expanding our Youtube channel and events program, including our ‘7 minutes soundbites’ series and our ‘Humanist Exchanges’ on current topics. Due to Covid, they are currently online but we hope to meet again in person soon.
Does this sound interesting? Our website maltahumanist.org contains our latest updates including a quiz on Humanism. Who knows? You may discover that you are a Humanist too!