Meeting Was Held On -

Sunday, November 11, 2018 8:48 PM

Braving the first snow of the year, 14 of us met at the home of Corrie and Andrew Baines to think more about the definitions and effects of ‘trust’.

Trust in an individual or institution takes time to develop, but can be eroded quickly. We assume we can trust what our political or religious leaders, doctors, teachers tell us. People trust what they read in newspapers and hear on TV. Unfortunately that trust is not always merited. Corrie pointed to a very serious conflict of interest existing in the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Institute, between members of the board and highly placed employees of ‘big pharma’. These conflicts were not declared which resulted in a serious breach of ethics (and Corrie’s trust).

People increase their trust when an organization or individual can arouse fear. For example in a notable percentage of cases, ‘expiry dates’ are irrelevant and incorrect. With breast screening, widely encouraged in the 70’ and 80’s, women learned to fear breast cancer, and were easily convinced to undergo screening

‘Belief’ gets in the way of how we trust. If we hate and fear ‘the other’, we have been brought to the will of our political and religious leaders. But a refusal to hate has allowed Izzeldin Abuelaish to survive the murder of his daughters and niece at the hands of Israelis. His book I Shall Not Hate is well worth reading. Izzeldin believes that ‘hate is a communicable disease’.

There’s a wonderful song in the show South Pacific that suggests “You’ve Got to Be Carefully Taught”. Another song related to our discussion is Barbra Streisand’s new song “Don’t Lie to me”.

A member asked why it is so easy to believe the unbelievable. One suggested answer was the fact that most of us were brought up in a religious faith. If you have learned to trust the mythologies of religion, accepting them as truth, you can learn to trust any powerful, figure. If you’re offfered something you already want to believe, it will not be difficult to sustain the belief.

Should we trust our hospitals? Doctors? Teachers? Political leaders? If we are already critical thinkers,  Corrie’s suggestion was “trust everything until it proves to be untrustworthy.” Trust is “the best available version of the truth”.

Suggested reading: Conspiracy of Hope, by Renee Pellerin (a thorough investigation of the history of breast screening, including much important information about Corrie’s struggles to reveal the truth)

“Imagine” by the Beatles- the closest we have to a humanist anthem

Our Nov. 7 meeting was an exceptional example.

Although we are all humanists, some believed that they could not bring themselves to vote for anyone who places their faith ahead of their objectivity, by publicly wearing a symbol of their religion (a skullcap, cross, turban, etc.) They are demonstrating that their basic thinking is irrational, and could manifest itself in their leadership. Others felt that we should never put stock in what people “wear’’; that a person who is displaying their religious faith may also be the kind, compassionate leader we seek. It is not easy to determine what underlies the outward picture, but we must never define ourselves as ‘superior’. The ‘us’ and ‘them’ attitude can become dangerous.

We ended up agreeing on many of the difficult issues, breaking down the components of the arguments by listening to the views of each person around the table. Good stuff….

A recommended reading: The New Human Rights Movement, by Peter Joseph.

Past Events

Wednesday | May 1st 2024

May – Dinner & Discussion

Yummy Yummy

5:30 PM

Wednesday | April 3rd 2024

April – Dinner and Discussion


5:30 PM

Wednesday | March 6th 2024

March 2024 – Dinner / Discussion

Indian Desire

5:30 PM