A humanist eulogy

I recently did a course through Future Learn on humanism. One of the set tasks was to write your own eulogy from a humanist standpoint. That is, there is no afterlife and once you’re dead, you’re dead. It’s a viewpoint I feel quite happy with. Don’t worry I am not planning on dying anytime soon. I hope that I am around for many more years to come!

A eulogy for Robyn

Wow! What a life! What a life my friend lived! She lived with passion, enthusiasm and vigour. She was never afraid to try something new. To create a challenge or set a goal. She annoyed us with her special projects and obsessions. She annoyed us with her bossy and dominating personality but still, we loved her energy and drive. Her get up and go! Her pizazz! 

Well, her get up and go has finally got up and gone and her chirpy voice with it. We are sad at her passing but OUR lives are richer for her being here and we pause today to celebrate that life. That temporary cohesion of elements and energy that combined in a unique way  and in this time-frame, to make the human we called Robyn. 

Robyn’s one life was, in the end, a life well-lived. She tried each day to make a difference to someone or some cause that needed a little boost. She had kind words to say to those who would listen. She had new tricks to learn and she kept us entertained. 

Robyn’s philosophy of life and death was a simple one. 

We start from nothing. We end as nothing.  But our life is our everything and it is not for nothing. 

For her, a life well lived was one that leaves behind a string of memories and inspiration for those of us who remember her.  We remember her travels. We remember her photos and quirky little movies. We remember her stories. We remember she couldn’t type to save her life and was hopeless at editing her own work! But these things did not stop her from getting out and having a go. For being brave enough to put her thoughts out in the world. 

In her autumn years, she supported the plight of older women, The Old Chooks. The older women marginalised by society who became vulnerable, homeless and forgotten in a culture that values youth over the beauty of a caring soul. She asks that you support charitable causes that help older women rather than put flowers on her burial place. 

Robyn’s motto “Be Invincible, Not Invisible” will live on in her memoirs and autobiographical short films. 

Robyn’s last wish was for you to stand here with her one last time, to enjoy the good food her family have prepared and add one small memory of your time with her to the slips of paper and add it to the jar being passed around. 

She asks you to move on, think of her fondly and know that she’s looking forward to becoming fertiliser for those trees!


I know some of my posts have been a bit dark lately. Don’t worry, I am not feeling dark. I am grateful that I have a secure job in an “essential Industry”. I am grateful that I am still healthy and have plenty of food in the cupboard.

If you are feeling dark and need help, please reach out to services such as Lifeline

Stay Calm and wash your hands!

 

A universe without God?

Discovering Humanism

I don’t believe in an all-powerful god sitting somewhere looking down on us and letting bad things happen to people who don’t deserve it. As an 11-year-old, I couldn’t figure out why, if god made everything,  did (he) make the devil. The scripture teacher smacked me on the bottom in front of the class for that question.

At the same time, I felt a strange sense of jealousy when my best friend, Annette, would go to church on Sunday. When she had something special to believe in, and I had nothing. When her family had elaborate rituals, and my family had nothing. The sense of community it gave her.

Later as an adult, I went on to describe myself as agnostic. I believed there must have been “something” to believe in, I just wasn’t sure what.  I couldn’t say for certain there was NO god. I couldn’t prove that god didn’t exist. But neither could I prove god does exist. That feeling of disquiet I felt as a kid remained. I wanted to believe in something; to give me “purpose” and focus.

When my daughter converted to Judaism and lived as an Orthodox Jew in Israel, I was in awe of her strength of passion, and again jealous of her sense of commitment and surety. I was jealous that she was so sure of what she believed that she was willing to turn her life upside down for it. That she had a way of ordering her life that made sense to her. I struggled. Why was I here? What was my purpose? What was the purpose of the Universe?

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I reflected on my jealousy and realised part of it stemmed from the fact that if there was no god and if I did not follow a religion, then everything was up to me, and I had to be responsible for all my own actions. That burden sometimes felt too heavy. I wanted someone to tell me how to live my life and how I should act.

I have changed my mind again and now I feel liberated and free. I have discovered there are people like me and we are called humanists. Why did it take nearly 60 years to find this out?

Humanists believe in science. They do not believe in God, gods or supernatural beings. They do not believe in an afterlife. They believe we live one life and we have a moral obligation to live that one life well. To not damage others or the universe. To exist in harmony and peace.

Notre Dame - God's grandest house?
Notre Dame

Humanists understand that life is uncertain and we can not know everything. We can, however, use rational thought, experimentation and our senses to learn about and then explain our universe and the amazing things in it.

That describes what I think and believe. There are people out there who feel the same way and hold conferences, have debates and write books I never knew existed. I have found my tribe! My lack of religion is not a calamity, it is not a shortfall in my character or upbringing. It is sensible, rational and true.

I came from nothing, I will become nothing. I have no memories of life before I was born because there was no consciousness. When I die, I will again have no capacity to feel or think and I will be nothing but a pile of saggy flesh and bones hopefully nourishing a tree.

I will be gone, and maybe I will be remembered kindly by those who knew me. That is up to me, and how well I live my one life.

 

 

House of God?