Interview with Daniel León, member of the organising team of the 8th International Symposium of the World Centre for Humanist Studies.
From the 16th to the 18th of April, under the slogan “A New Humanism for a new world. Plural exchanges from a world in crisis”, the 8th International Symposium of the World Centre for Humanist Studies (WCHS) will take place virtually.
To find out more about the characteristics and intentions of the event, Pressenza spoke with Daniel León, member of the WCHS international coordination team and member of the organising team.
What does the title given to this 8th Symposium mean, what do you aspire to?
The title of the Symposium has to do with our aspiration for Humanism to become the “sign”, we could say, of a new stage of humanity. And what do we understand by “Humanism”? In general terms, the placing of the human being as the most important thing, as the central value. Or better still, the evolution of the human being as the central value. Above other entities such as homeland, religion, progress, economy, etc., to whose service the human being is normally subordinated. Humanism also affirms the equality of human beings, the freedom of ideas and beliefs, the repudiation of all forms of violence, and a tendency towards the development of knowledge over and above what is accepted as absolute truths.
Note that if these ideas were to find their way into the world of tomorrow, it would undoubtedly be “a new world”, a new sun, as Schiller says, under which men could once again become brothers.
Please tell us something about the main themes that will be addressed.
Well, there are a few thematic axes: Humanism at the present time, post-humanism, trans-humanism, overcoming violence, the elimination of nuclear weapons, the climate crisis, an economy for freedom, the gender question, progress in health and education from a humanist perspective, new conceptions of consciousness, transcendence and spirituality. There are two more axes: “new lifestyles”, and “visions for the future”.
Can you tell us more about the programme and the possibilities for participation?
There will be more than 80 presentations and round table discussions on the themes I have just mentioned. I find them all very interesting. I am particularly interested in Judge Baltasar Garzón’s presentation on legal aspects that a New Humanism could incorporate, and also in Dr. Julia Carabias’ presentation, which will try to show how to access a “world of well-being” while recovering the sustainability of the environment. It is also noteworthy that on the last day, Sunday, there will be a tribute to Dr. Akop Nazaretian, for his contribution to the understanding of the human process and his legacy of a hopeful vision for the future of humanity. Friends from Argentina, Chile, Mexico, Spain and Russia will participate in this tribute.
The programme with the different speakers and timetables is available to everyone on the symposium’s website, which is http://2021.worldsymposium.org.
The modality of participation is through the registration form on the website. All registered participants will then be sent a code to access the different zoom channels.
What have been the milestones prior to this Symposium and how do you evaluate its results?
This is the 8th WCHS Symposium. The first one was held in 2008, so we have been doing approximately one Symposium every 2 years. Although in the last year we recorded a growth of WCHS of about 20%, we cannot evaluate our action from a quantitative point of view, as our function has always been to raise awareness about the crisis of humanity, and the possible ways to overcome it.
Nothing human beings do in the physical world if it has not first passed through their minds, as an idea and as an image of action. Coincidentally, the historical process shows that the main factor that brought about “the rise of man” has been the development of his consciousness, or, in other words, the development of knowledge and the corresponding intelligence.
The WCHS is part of the Humanist Movement, a movement founded by Mario Rodríguez Cobos (SILO). What is the current development of the organisation and what activities does it carry out?
In the various Centres of Humanist Studies, the approaches of Universalist Humanism are studied in their individual and social aspects, and new paths are investigated that lead to the development of consciousness and the evolution of the human being. It is not an easy task, but it is probably the most important thing that can be done in this world at the present time.
World Symposia, on the other hand, allow for the exchange and transfer of ideas between different schools of thought that are oriented towards the evolution of the human being. This can be mutually beneficial and accelerate joint change. In this Symposium you can see the participation of many presenters who do not participate in the Humanist Movement – I have not counted them, but I believe they are in the majority. That gives us great joy: it will really be, as the subtitle says, a plural exchange.
What do you think is the contribution of the WCHS in particular and of New Humanism in general to the current crisis that humanity is going through?
Neoliberalism has advanced in the last 30 years in the world, producing an accumulation of wealth never seen before in history. Suffice it to mention this sad symmetry: the richest 1% of humanity holds 50% of the total wealth, while the poorest 50% must survive on only 1% of the existing resources. And to make matters worse, this gap between rich and poor is growing ever wider. These are figures that show a world that is too unequal and inhumane. These figures mean that dozens of children die every day from malnutrition-related diseases. And all the while, billions and billions are spent on weapons.
In general terms, New Humanism denounces this “anti-humanism” that characterises today’s world, and proposes procedures and actions to move towards a more humane world. It is within this general movement that it falls to the WCHS to study, search and clarify the best ways to achieve this, or at least to make the attempt… For there was a very wise man who once said: “the real struggle of man is in his conscience; it is therefore important to awaken it”.