Let me introduce you to a seriously awesome group of people who embarked on a year-long trip in July as a part of Foundation Beyond Belief’s first ever (and essentially the first of its kind, period) international humanist service corps, The Pathfinders Project. Foundation Beyond Belief (FBB) is a prominent non-religious charitable organization whose motto is "Humanity at Work," which is just what this program is doing.
As an intern this summer, I had the opportunity to represent FBB at The Amazing Meeting, the nation's largest secular conference, and also where I had the pleasure to meet and get to know Conor Robinson, the Director of the Pathfinders Project. He, along with Ben Blanchard, Wendy Webber, and Michelle Huey have been travelling the world doing service projects in different places every month and improving each of the communities in which they stayed. From teaching at a humanist school in Uganda, to building latrines in Haiti, to doing a clean water initiative in Ecuador, these four have done a great amount of compassionate service in a year’s time.
I doubt that I need to go into great detail about why they are doing this, because it’s pretty self-explanatory. Humanists are good without a god, good for goodness' sake, just good because it is right. Increasing the standard of living for impoverished communities is 1) the ethical thing to do, and 2) beneficial for the global community in the long run. The atheist community desperately needs a program like the Pathfinders because churches have had a long head start on organizing and sending groups internationally, the majority of which go to evangelize and build churches, which I think we can agree that that is more harmful than beneficial, and the effort could be going to something that is actually helpful and worthwhile, like digging wells. Here is a finished latrine that they built:
Organizing this kind of service is especially important for non-believers, because we know that there is no afterlife, so all we have is this Earth and this lifetime to make it a better place. If you have attended college you are already immensely more privileged than the vast majority of people in the world, for example 1 in 9 of the world’s population does not have access to clean water. This project is the beginning of what I believe is a big step for the secular community. It is about time to that we give people an option to give back that is not through a religious community, and Foundation Beyond Belief is the pioneering organization in a shift away from solely religious service that I hope develops into many organizations aimed at giving back because it is the moral thing to do, not because an omniscient deity says that you’ll go to heaven.
So going on a year-long service trip around the world is not in the cards for you, that is okay. There are so many ways that you can do your part to be a mindful and compassionate citizen of this Earth. First and foremost, don’t take for granted the resources that you are afforded, i.e. don’t be wasteful. Don’t waste water when you’re brushing your teeth, or washing the dishes, or showering, don’t waste food, don’t waste products, etc. Additionally, if you have the money to spare, support the Pathfinders Project or even just support Foundation Beyond Belief.
Like Pathfinder’s Project and find more about them on Facebook.
Also, Conor decided not to shave his beard or cut his hair during time he’s abroad. Here, have a look, this is him 180 days into the trip, with 150 days to go:
And here’s a picture of Ben after 180 days, he also wrote a really good blog post about his weight loss that I recommend reading: