As I entered the conference hotel just outside Gothenburg city my friend welcomed me with a warm hug. I was the last one to arrive – The Last Finn – as the called me and I was happy to see some friends, amazed by the Swedish logistics and very hungry.
A great deal of curiosity bubbled inside me. Being used to sticking around an organization that is neutral when it comes to politics and religion, attending a humanist seminar was something new to me.
The Norwegian humanistic youth organization Humanistisk Ungdom had gathered 40-ish participants for a Nordic humanistic seminar 23-15.10 not only from Finland and Norway, but also from Iceland and Denmark. I heard a rumor about Swedes among us, but I never met any.
The actual seminar started with mapping the associations attending. But first we had to create a hashtag to be able to begin with anything (#humnor).
Humanist associations have a tradition of writing manifestos to declare who they are, what they think and how they act. As the last manifesto of Humanistisk Ungdom is from 2006, it was time to write a new one. The goal was not to write a new version of the Norwegian manifesto, but to write a common Nordic manifesto. We got a draft and started to work on it in smaller groups. It was very interesting to develop a manifesto that the association I represented would not sign, and that actually wanted to exclude people, when I’m used to a common will of including everyone.
A little footnote; Prometheus-camps association is neutral about religions, humanists are not, and therefore Protu cannot sign the humanist minimum.
Working on the manifesto was eye opening, it not only gave me a better picture of (Nordic) humanists, it also made me step outside the Box of Protu, which was incredibly healthy.
It was a pity that the Finnish humanists were not attending, but hopefully they find their way to this manifesto and that they get their voice heard.
Even though we had only little time to work on the manifesto, we were able to come up with fine and precise formulations. The only part that we could not handle was to create an introduction, so that part remained perfectly empty.
Despite all the new experiences I felt at home, because we ate all the time, just like at any other Protu event. We were served delicious food and all the diets and allergies were taken into account really well.
The most interesting lecture was held by Arnfinn Pettersen later on Saturday. The subject was critical thinking and was an excellent reminder to check facts, to be patient and to evaluate your argumentation. He emphasized the value of the actual argumentation and how it gradually is disappearing due to the fashion of political correctness, as being afraid to offend anyone in anyway. We discussed about how it really is okay to change your mind and how to listen patiently without judging can be the key to affect someone. Freedom of speech and its various forms were discussed and also different platforms and anonymity.
As final lecture Lars-Petter Helgestadt briefed us about the history, campaigns and the activity on the local levels of Humanistisk Ungdom.
I want to thank Humanistisk Ungdom for organizing such an interesting seminar. The atmosphere was warm and welcoming, partly because the relatively small amount of people.
This was an excellent way to make a larger social network and to find collaborators. We are looking forward to meet and work with these fantastic people again in the future.
member of the International section