Do people stay the same forever?
Or can they change their character?
REFLECTIONS BY EIGHTH GRADE STUDENTS
“Humanism is the belief that people can improve themselves, a belief dating back to the Renaissance….Even though I believe in God, I am a secular humanist rather than a religious humanist. This is because I think that being a Christian or a Muslim is not necessary when it comes to changing your character. We make our own choices, think our own thoughts, and speak our own words. Therefore, we ultimately fix our own problems and change ourselves by ourselves because no one else can control our actions and will.” Milena
“I am a humanist. I know people can change if they want to. I’ve even seen it happen with my own eyes. I find there is a God watching out for us, but he lets you choose your life and how to live it. God does shine his light inside of us at times and just reminds us he is always there for us.” Bronson
“Give light, and the darkness will disappear of itself.” Desiderius Erasmus
“…society is like a book and each person is a page. The page may be ripped, torn or maybe destroyed, but there is always hope that with help it may be repaired. Unfortunately, that mistake can always be seen. Worst case scenario, the page is destroyed and there is no hope of returning to its potential. So, yes, I believe if people work very hard with support they can return to the Bridge of Character, but if you’ve destroyed your chances it’s useless.” Owen
Click HERE to learn more about the Bridge of Character.
“I am kind of a humanist. I believe that life is a maze, that you start when you take your first breath of air. After that first choice, every turn will change your fate forever, and once a choice is made, there’s no going back. I think that people can change, though….but this kind of determination is rare and far between, and for most, change is just a far-off thought or an unrealistic dream that will never come true….
“I think that becoming a better person is not something we can learn. It’s something that we all contain, like a sixth sense, we just have got to know how to use it. Like the sockeye salmon knows where to spawn, or the deer knows to run, it’s something we have but must be determined to use. We must be the wind that blows away the black cloud or the calm after the storm.” Cole
“If you keep thinking about what you want to do or what you hope will happen, you don’t do it, and it won’t happen.” Desiderius Erasmus
“I, personally, am a secular humanist. I do believe in God but I do not believe he can help get you back on the right track. That part is up to you. God like a little child’s imaginary friend. The child can talk to the imaginary friend, tell their friend all of their problems, but the imaginary friend cannot do anything unless the child’s mind wants it to. God is here for consoling and letting you know that you always have someone, but he cannot physically help you, though he can silently encourage.” Saniya
“There is a reason that we have doctors and therapists in this world – they change people for the better. Some people seem to be too far gone and cannot be reached; I wish I could say otherwise, but it’s usually true. But that doesn’t mean that they have always been this way. There was a time when these people, with the help of others, could have come back to the good side.” Kylie
“I do believe people can change if they try hard but that’s not because of God. It’s with help from counsellors or doctors. Yes, God helps you choose the help, but he doesn’t do the change….The thing I don’t understand is why everyone says God is controlling us. Yes, it could be their beliefs but if he controlled us, wouldn’t we all be joyful, wise, happy and perfect?” Jaxon
“I am a secular humanist. I still believe in god, but I don’t do good things just for him, I do them out of the goodness in me.” Kyla
“I don’t do good things to go to heaven or because I think I’m being watched. I do good things because I feel good and I become happy when the person I helped becomes happy” Isabel
“Being a Humanist means trying to behave decently without expectation of rewards or punishment after you are dead.” Kurt Vonnegut
“I believe that if you try to, you can change the way you are. I do know people that have been in depression, but with the help of others have become happy human beings once more….I am a religious humanist, believing that there is a god out there that is watching over us. I believe that if you ask for help to become a better person, God might assist, or he will let you try it on your own. I believe he won’t always be there, holding your hand along the way.” Alyssa
“I believe that if someone works hard, puts immense amounts of effort into it, and is determined to do so they can become better. Although this will not happen overnight….You can’t just expect to get better because you want to…. I am a religious humanist. I believe that we change ourselves, but our strength to do so comes from God. God has a path of life chosen for us and we need Him to figure out what that path is. But it is our decision if we take that path. He does not force it. It is there as an option. Just like when your mom asks you if you want an apple or a donut. She doesn’t force you to take the apple, but you know that it is the right choice. If you take the donut, you life isn’t going to end, but if you take the donut every time she asks, you could have problems in your life, and could soon regret the decision.” Sarah
“As human beings, our greatness lies not so much in being able to remake the world – that is the myth of the atomic age – as in being able to remake ourselves.” Mahatma Gandhi
“I am a religious humanist and this is what I think. When you were in your mother, you were given a soul, a heart and a brain. When you were born, you learned how to control yourself. Right now, you have reached the stage where you can tell your hand to do that, and it does. You are reading this and you are thinking about it because you are able to do so. Whenever you want to improve, you can….In first term, my marks were really bad. I told myself that I was going to change. I told myself that I was going to get my homework done on time, and do everything that can cause me to get great marks. Right now, my marks are improving. That is an example of how I improved on the Bridge of Character. But, of course, I would not have done that without God’s help.” Nadia
“I kind of think I am a humanist but not a full on one. I do think you can change yourself on the outside but not on the inside.” Colin
“I am in the middle. I believe people, through hard work, can become better people, but I also believe that no matter how much you change, the past will always live with you. I believe that the person you once were will always be inside of you even if it’s been covered with happiness from the person you are now….” Jamie
“I am not a humanist. I feel humanism is just a bunch of baloney….We are born, we have DNA. Now DNA is what we are. We cannot just switch it out. It is us. There is no changing, just hiding.” Dylan
“You cannot change what you are, only what you do.” Philip Pullman
“I am not any kind of humanist….I see people as parts of a machine. All parts are unique but at the same time are all similar. All parts have a role in the machine. When a part is faulty, you just can’t hope that it will fix itself. You have to replace it, or the machine will not work properly.” Brennan
“I do believe in humanism – though I’m not sure if I’m secular or religious. I think that if the effort is put forth, people could become better as human beings. With or without a God, it is our responsibility to learn how to becoming better people for the sake of our and future generations. I believe that we need help to improve, so it is up to all of us to work together, encouraging and rebuking each other, to become better people.” Zoe
“How noble and good everyone could be if, every evening before falling asleep, they were to recall to their minds the events of the whole day and consider exactly what has been good and bad. Then without realizing it, you try to improve yourself at the start of each new day.” Anne Frank
“I think all people in the world have goodness and badness inside them. Some people choose to follow the path of goodness and some people follow the one of badness. How the person is depends on which way that person chooses to go. So I believe that if a person following a path of badness chooses to – or wants to – be a good person, that person can walk on the path of goodness by efforts, care and determination. But if we try to force a person to be good, and not convince the person, she will never be good no matter what we do, because the person didn’t choose her own path.” Isabel
“All men make mistakes, but a good man yields when he knows his course is wrong, and repairs the evil. The only crime is pride.” Sophocles
“I believe people can change and become better people if they work very hard at it and get help if necessary. But I also think that some people can’t change because they do not have enough resolution. People can be lazy and not have strong wills to do something so that they never really change although they want to. Additionally, I think others, in contrast, don’t change because they do not have much humility. They think that everything they do is right and that they don’t have to change because they are already the best people there can be in the world.” Juli
“There is nothing noble in being superior to your fellow man; true nobility is being superior to your former self.” Ernest Hemingway
“I believe that any human being can improve themselves if they put in some effort. I also believe that, overall, people cannot make the world a better place. There will always be bullies, robbers, cheaters and kidnappers. I know this because I believe that when the first person sinned, all people were born sinners. I also know this because throughout time, people have always been evil. There has never been a time when life was perfect for everyone. The reason this is true, and probably always will be true, is because people do not have resolution. If people did what they thought was right, the world would be safe for everyone. The thing that keeps the earth a liveable place is the people like Nelson Mandela or Benjamin Franklin: people who have integrity, honour, respect, kindness and many other good traits. I want to be a person who is beneficial to this world and I hope you do, too.” Dawson
Click HERE to learn more about humanism.
“We are responsible to learn to be better people. What would the world be with no one on the Bridge of Character? It would be disturbing. Chaos everywhere with no one to depend on or to become right with, which would be terrifying. Civilization would be destroyed.” Solomon
“I believe people are neutral creatures who carry out positive or negative tasks. In that case, people do not necessarily have to work hard to become better people; they need to put effort into not doing bad tasks.” Ann
“My dream career is to get a Ph.D. in psychology, retire, and work as a philosopher. I’ve always liked having a fierce debate on how people should act, and doing what I like will be an enjoyable career. Thinking about all I’ve covered today on humanism and all we talked about yesterday (philosophical questions), I really just find it enjoyable to do things like that.” Alex
“Learn from yesterday, live for day, hope for tomorrow. The important thing is not to stop questioning.” Albert Einstein
Click HERE to read more philosophical thoughts of middle school students.