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IHEYO newsletter April/May, 2016

Dear humanist friends,

For the last four years, I’ve been lucky to be involved in the work of IHEYO. When attending my very first meeting of the European Working Group, I joined ten young humanists, representing 5 organizations. There, in Berlin, I was coaxed into running the General Assembly in Amsterdam that year, and run for Chair of the European Working Group in the process.

Since then, through meetings in Amsterdam, Bucharest, Brussels, Utrecht, Oxford, Oslo and Malta, I’ve met hundreds of people somehow finding themselves involved in the world of humanism, atheism, skepticism, rationalism, agnosticism, laïcité, freethinking and what other name they use to identify with IHEYO. I saw the involvement in international activities and interaction grow, cumulating into the European Humanist Youth Days, which will run from July 29-31 in Utrecht, The Netherlands.

So many people, so many ideas. So many reasons to team up with IHEYO. So many stories which inspired me, repulsed me, angered me, made me laugh, made me love. I’ve seen our organization, IHEYO, grow and flourish with the help of some amazing people. I’m so proud of the amount of people we’ve been able to reach, to help think for themselves.

I see the great many challenges we all face. I hear the stories of brave bloggers from Bangladesh, am privileged enough to hear them personally. But stories of sacrifice for free thought, free expression, and all that in a tolerant manner, is not something I hear only from my friends from Bangladesh. From Romania, where the number of churches outnumber the public hospitals about 700 to 1, where atheism is still related to communism; from Norway, where only a couple of years ago a law was scrapped to automatically sign every citizen into the state church; from Italy, where only as late as last week the government allowed same-sex marriages; from Germany, where a comedian was forced into hiding, and is being persecuted for insulting a foreign head of state. I see these and many more battles being thought by inspiring, strong people.

I also see the great solutions we find to face those situations. Protests, meetings, talks, posts on social media. And I see that everywhere in the world, the ideas of our basic freedoms, our basic humanist principles, are being recognized, being taken over, being integrated. The world’s ours for the taking. It just takes a long time, bit by bit.

If I may ask all of you something, it’s to acknowledge the great hard work everyone is doing around the world, and to praise one another for it. Keep inspiring each other, keep saying this is the right cause to be working towards. Keep discussing, keep laughing, keep drinking and dancing and partying, keep brushing your teeth and posting it, keep up all of the amazing work!

In short, I’m very thankful for all the great people I’ve been able to meet, for all the inspiration, all the fun, all the eye-openers. We’ll stay in touch!

With lots of LOVE,

Lennart

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