The Humanist Manifesto

No two humans are born identically. As time goes on and humans gain life experience, the differences only increase. Each human being represents a completely unique life experience. Two people can watch the same movie, but not from the same place at the same time through the same lens. Given these differences amongst us, it is highly problematic to assume that a system of equal opportunity can be devised. How can we have a system of equal opportunity when no one is equal? Naturally, any form of evaluation will be more favorable to some than others. Those with the characteristics sought out by the evaluation will excel, while those with a different mix of characteristics will flounder.

The point ought not be to rank, but to get the most potential out of each human being. We can measure this by the contribution the individual makes toward collective human happiness. However, we must keep in mind that one’s contribution is dependent on what others are doing. Each individual is only one link in the system, so we must view contribution as a collective process. For example, if a farmer grows a whole bunch of nutritious food, but there is already an overabundance of nutritious food in the market, is the farmer making a positive contribution to collective human happiness? The solution would be for some to switch tasks in order to reduce the surplus.

Ideally, everyone would be doing activities that 1) they find enjoyable, and 2) contribute as much as possible to the collective happiness of humanity. Modern society has the most trouble with the first element. Mainstream modern institutions teach people to complete the tasks assigned to them whether they like it or not. There is no serious attempt to match individuals to the tasks they find most enjoyable. Nor is there an attempt to alter the tasks so as to become enjoyable. Nor is there an attempt to teach the individuals to approach the tasks in an alternative way that will make the process enjoyable. Instead the bureaucrats focus on accomplishing their assigned institutional ends, viewing the human beings they must deal with as little more than means toward those ends.

In order to progress, we must construct a flexible society. We must put an end to institutions that provide only one or a few paths to success. We must cultivate an attitude that views each human being as full of potential. And we must also design and construct ecosystems offering resources for the development of every type of human being.

No one should be a victim of their environment. Whether one grows up in a Chinese village or an elite Massachusetts college town, one must have access to the full range of resources for human development.


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