Opening Words from Sun. August 9 by Joyce Best

Good Morning!

I have been asked to speak because I had given Kyle some of Steve’s philosophy books. We were pleased to have the books being used. I appreciate this opportunity to talk about Humanism and philosophy.

As Humanists we LIVE our values. We do not regularly recite them. But it is valuable to consider them.

Soon after Steve retired in the early 1990’s, he started several discussion groups. Today I am recalling the philosophy study group, its members and meetings. It lasted for more than 20 years. We met monthly at members’ homes. A volunteer would prepare and lead the discussion. The topics varied from Plato to Dewey to “The Federalist Papers” to Mary Wollenstock’s “A Vindication of the Rights of Woman”. Steve sent notices with summaries of the topics and maps of our various locations.

Our committed members differed in knowledge of philosophy. We started with 20 regular participants but dwindled to about 10. In 2002 we started using the Teaching Company videos on Philosophy.

Some of you may remember some regulars. If you knew Walter Hoops you will remember his inimitable personality. Walter was a “Freidenker”… a free thinker with many thoughts to share. He even interrupted Sunday morning platforms with his opinions. And Rosalia Rosenbaum with her unique hair style and Russian background. Angela Bell was a committed participant. Paul Doudna was also a contributor.

We enjoyed the group and were enriched by it.

“Human beings are capable of being ethical and moral without a religion” is often used to describe Humanists. There is debate about Humanism being a Religion. What do YOU put in the box on questionaires asking for religion? “Secular Humanist”? “ Ethical Humanist”? “Other”?

THE HUMANIST MANIFESTO III is a consensus of what we believe and our values. I urge you to reread it. Its first paragraph reminds us “Humanism is a progressive philosophy of life that, without supernaturalism, affirms our ability and responsibility to lead ethical lives of personal fulfillment that aspire to the greater good of humanity.”


Our logos are fascinating. “THE HAPPY MAN” (changed to “THE HAPPY HUMAN”) was designed by Dennis Harrington in a 1965 United Kingdom Humanists’ contest.

Groups have created many varieties using different colors, maps, flags or other images. It is used universally. Our St. Louis Ethical Society version varies a bit. One way it is a person, but TILT IT and you see our building! James Croft and I have not found who created it. Do you know?

A vital important commemoration is the anniverasry of Hiroshima-Nagasaki. Our local Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom observes it annually, often at our Ethical Society building. Yesterday we had a zoom documentary “The Beginning Of the End of Nuclear Weapons”. It gave some hope for abolishing nuclear weapons.

The SATURDAY REVIEW has devoted its current issue to writings from John Hersey, author of HIROSHIMA, and other authors. The PROGRESSIVE MAGAZINE published articles by Helen Caldicott. They all agree on the commitment, we must NEVER let it happen again.

Thank you!

NOTE: The ideas and opinions in this post do not necessarily express the thoughts or opinions of the Ethical Society of St. Louis or its leadership.