My HAPI Perspective at the World Humanist Congress (2023)

In August 2023, I attended the World Humanist Congress with several of my HAPI friends. This three-day gathering brought together individuals committed to promoting secular humanism. By the end, it significantly influenced my perspectives on humanism, democracy, and the global community. I am excited to share my experience and how it has left a lasting impression on me.

Day 1: Embracing Diversity and Humanism

The congress opened on August 3rd with a heartwarming speech by Sandi Torvig, a remarkable individual who shared her journey in the entertainment industry and opened up about her gender identity. Not only did Sandi’s story shed light on her personal struggles, but she also sprinkled her speech with humour that had the audience in stitches. Her unwavering dedication to humanism became even more evident as she seamlessly wove her life experiences into her message of inclusivity and acceptance. Sandi’s pride in being a humanist resonated deeply with the audience, setting a powerful and cheerful tone for the entire event.

The HAPI Team in full force.

During the parallel sessions, I had the opportunity to present the HAPI – Green Movement and ClimatEducate Project initiatives to a diverse and engaged audience. It was inspiring to see humanists worldwide coming together to discuss solutions for environmental challenges. I owe immense gratitude to HAPI – Humanist Alliance Philippines, International, for providing this platform to share our projects and collaborate on global issues.

Day 2: Democracy and Humanistic Values

The second day was equally enlightening. Wonderful Mkhutche, whom we chatted with the day before, took the stage to discuss democracy and humanistic values. As he shared insights from his experiences in Malawi, I couldn’t help but feel a twinge of envy. In Malawi, humanists are actively included in meaningful conversations, debates, media, and government affairs. They are not just heard but respected and valued. I left that session with a renewed hope that the Philippines could one day achieve the same level of recognition and inclusion for humanists.

HAPI Youth Ambassador Junelie Velonta (far right), made a bold impression

Lars Fr. H. Svendsen‘s thought-provoking talk on hope added a layer of depth to the day’s discussions. He emphasised that hope is not merely waiting for change but actively working toward it. Hope gives us direction and shapes our future. It’s about having a vision for a better world, even if it’s not realised immediately. Lars’ words resonated deeply, reminding us of the importance of our collective efforts as humanists.

Art and Activism: Victoria Gugenheim’s “Humanist at Risk”

Day 2 also gave us the opportunity to explore the thought-provoking art exhibit titled “Humanist at Risk: Terror, Trauma, Transformation” by Victoria Gugenheim. Her artwork beautifully depicted the challenges and triumphs of humanists worldwide. It was a stark reminder of the importance of defending humanist values and advocating for secularism, especially in regions where these principles are under threat.

Day 3: Uniting for Humanism

On the final day, August 5th, of the congress, we gathered in front of the Copenhagen Planetarium, raising our hands with the letter ‘H‘ drawn on them, a symbolic gesture, led by Victoria Gugenheim. This simple yet powerful act symbolised our unity as humanists, transcending geographical boundaries and cultural differences.

Throughout the congress, we were given thought-provoking keynote speeches on freedom of religion and belief by Nazila Ghanea and Abid Raja. Their impassioned talks reminded us of the vital role humanism plays in ensuring that everyone can practice their beliefs, or non-beliefs, without fear or discrimination.

About the Author

Diosa Aguila-Aguirre

Diosa Aguila-Aguirre is the HAPI-Green Ambassador! She is a dedicated educator and environmental warrior.

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