Marilynne Robinson argues that real humanism means looking at past generations with pity and recognition.
I think it’s very important to deal with the fact that we are flawed – and that we are all flawed. I think that the idea of original sin is one of the most brilliant that antiquity has yielded. People want to set themselves apart from the evil that has existed in the world and exists now, the sadness, all of it. But that makes them hard I think. Because they act as if it were all some terrible error made by other people, that they themselves are not vulnerable to making. And I think real humanism depends on taking the whole history of humankind – which is really something, really a difficult thing! But at the same time we have to look with pity and we have to look with recognition on all the generations that have come before us – and understand that we’re as blind as they are.