29 tot en met 31 juli was Utrecht het verzamelpunt voor jonge Humanisten uit Europa. Daar vonden toen de European Humanist Youth Days plaats. Lennart Kolenberg, bestuurslid van IHEYO, hield de openingsspeech.

My dear humanist friends. My dear atheists, secularists, agnostics, rationalists, sceptics, pastafarians, laïque and freethinker friends. Welcome! Welcome to the Netherlands, welcome to the 2016 European Humanist Youth Days!

I am so thrilled to stand here addressing you!

So thrilled to welcome you to Utrecht, a city full of humanist history. A stonesthrow away from the University for Humanistic Studies, where the Amsterdam Declaration was signed, where IHEYO was reformed, where young professionals are taught to bring their humanist values to education, science, business and care. That was overseen by John Locke, as he wrote on his Essay Concerning Human Understanding. A city in which Descartes lived out his final days, in which numerous more influential humanists and scientists have worked.

And now it is the stage of another chapter in humanist history. It’s the sight for the 2016 European Humanist Youth Days. In 2013, in Brussels, I remember a certain Belgian urging the participants of the first edition of the EHYDs to make humanism “bigger, louder, faster, stronger”. So we took up his call. And here we are.

Bigger. With nearly 150 participants, this is the biggest international young humanist gathering in the history of IHEYO.

Louder. With a not-so-silent positive protest on Sunday.

Faster. Well, not sure what to make of that one.

Stronger. Because it’s my belief and my hope that these Youth Days will leave European organised humanism in a better state.

And let it be clear. There is a need for humanism, a need for unity and co-operation, a need for a new approach based on values. Because the problems facing Europe are substantial. A large number of displaced people are looking for shelter, putting pressure on existing schedules. They bring new faces, new ideas, new beliefs to our societies.

Against these changing settings because of this ongoing globalisation, terrorists aim to spread fear throughout Europe. It seems like important humanist work and values, criticising, questioning, but also tolerance, seem to be dangerous. Cartoonists, shopaholics, people celebrating their fundamental human rights. Everyone seems to be a possible target.

But here we are. Advocating exactly these fundamental values and this important work. Now, more than ever, it’s important that we stand as one for these values. That we’re moved by the work of others, and move to actively do our part. So in advance, thank you for being here.

A special thank you to our speakers, great people in their respective lines of work and thought. I hope you will enjoy these Youth Days as much as we will.

Foto: Jan Reinier. Kijk voor meer foto's op de facebookpagina van de European Humanist Youth Days.

Lees ook het blog dat Lennart in aanloop naar de European Humanist Youth Days schreef.