A Call for UU Humanist “Elevator Speeches”

AAHS: Agnostics, Atheists, Humanists & Secularists Freethinkers Forum

Do you have a good Humanist or UU “elevator speech?” You know, a quick summary that explains a complex subject to someone who only has time for a brief exchange of words… such as might occur during an elevator ride?

Our next AAHS: Agnostics, Atheists, Humanists & Secularists Freethinker Forum is a fun chance to bring, test, or create your best elevator speeches in time for the next issue of UU Humanist Association’s journal. All are welcome, and if you would prefer just to listen to others’ ideas, that’s perfectly fine! More details below:

The Journal of Religious Humanism would like to challenge you to be creatively brief.

So, if you were asked, upon entering an elevator: “Hey, what is Humanism, anyway?”

And you had to reply before exiting, what would you say?

  • In one floor? In 10-15 seconds? No more than a dozen words?
  • In four floors? 20-30 seconds? No more than 50 words?
  • In twelve floors? 45 – 60 seconds? 100 words, tops?

The Journal editors would love to include your positive description in our next issue. Please pick one of the elevator-ride durations as described above, and submit before Jan. 31, 2020, along with your name, phone number, connection to Humanism, and other succinct and relevant information.

We’ll try to include as many entries as we can, but reserve the right to edit, with your permission. We select and edit on a rolling basis, so earlier submissions have a better chance of being included.

Have a burning need to say more? To a four-floor speech you may optionally add up to 250 words of biography and details of what inspired you. To a twelve-floor speech, up to 750 words (also optional).

Secular Humanism. Religious Humanism. Plain ole’ humanism. Whatever you call it – tell us and our members/subscribers what it means to you.

Some unsolicited advice: perfection is rare and takes too long. We accept diamonds in the rough. Think fast, write just a little slower, revise sparingly, and send it in. Who knows? You could make us proud and we might make you famous (within a limited Freethinking universe).

If you can’t make Sunday’s meeting but still wish to submit your elevator speeches to the UU Humanist Association by Jan. 31, please email them to aahs@uusm.org and we will pass them along to Roger Brewin of the Journal of Religious Humanism.

Need some examples?

Here are some Humanist Elevator Speeches from a number of perspectives:

One-floor elevator speeches:

“Belief and trust in human effort.”
-John Dietrich, Minister, First Unitarian Society, Minneapolis, 1930s.

“Wonder, imagination, fulfillment, creativity, meaning: available to everyone – religious or not.”
-Marilyn Westfall, Humanist spokesperson and published poet, in “How to Thread a Needle,” Journal of Religious Humanism, 2015

“Religious Humanism celebrates individual rational choice in loving community.”
-Roger Brewin, UU Humanists Association Board member, 2019.

Four-floor elevator speeches:

“Engaged in the flow of life, we aspire to this vision: our informed conviction is that humanity has the ability to progress towards its highest ideals. The responsibility for our lives and the kind of world in which we live, is ours.”
-Stephanie Downs Hughes, DuPage UU Church, on Humanist Manifesto III, Journal of Religious Humanism, 2003.

“Humanism tells me human life is … worthy of respect and care. Environmentalism tells me: to be human is to be part of an interdependent circle of all life. Environmental Humanism compels me to work to reduce human practices that threaten the survival of life on earth.”
-Carol Hepokoski, Meadville Lombard Theological School, in “Being Human on a Warming Planet,” Journal of Religious Humanism, 2016

Twelve-floor elevator speeches:

“A humanist accepts the scientific worldview, its explanations of the origins of the universe and the evolution of humankind as a natural part of that universe. We believe those things for which we have found evidence, reflected on and refined by the use of reason and critical thought. It is through human will and human work that the ills in our lives can be overcome. That which we revere and find sacred is manifest in our human freedom to choose the good, our quest for truth, love of justice, practice of compassion, and creation and appreciation of beauty.”
-Kathleen Korb, minister of the UU Congregation of Greater Naples, FL., UUHA General Assembly workshop: If Not God, What?, 2003

“As a Humanist I accept and rejoice in the reality of our world and our lives here and now. To me the idea of Heaven pales in comparison to the grandeur and majesty of this delicate planet on which we find ourselves. How can any notion of an afterlife be more compelling than the drama of our human experience: human emotions, sensations, struggles, triumphs, opportunities gained and lost? What could be more glorious than just being alive for whatever time we have, and how could we ever appreciate being alive without the sure knowledge of our eventual death?”
-Susanne Werner, DuPage UU Church, in “Nature ‘N Us,” Journal of Religious Humanism, 2003

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