Thursday, July 30, 2009

Networking from a Humanist Perspective

One of the things I have made a concerted effort of late is to network within the online humanist/atheist/secularist community. I've done this the same way I did it in the Iron Maiden fan community - found a good group of people and injected myself into them, blog comments, joining a forum, hanging out with smaller groups of like-minded people. At least I am trying.

It's important to network, and I have chosen to do so with American atheists because they have the best amount of experience dealing with the sorts of procedures that I never want Canadian atheists to worry about. But as we saw with the Halifax bus ads, Canada's far from perfect. We may have to fight less often than our American friends, but we should be ready to rock.

Hemant Mehta's Friendly Atheist blog is a great example of how to follow that brilliant Churchillian method:

In War: Resolution
In Defeat: Defiance
In Victory: Magnanimity
In Peace: Good Will

I am not foolish enough to suggest the concepts of the "War on Christmas" are true. No atheist (well, very few) want to see the theists in this nation have to stop celebrating Christmas. I love the opportunity to meet my family, or see my friends, or make double time-and-a-half. However, we should be concrete: there is a struggle going on, and this struggle (fought on the battlegrounds within the USA) is for our right to equality.

We must be resolute in this on-going battle. We want equality - we want to walk into a public place and not have the Ten Commandments thrust into our face. We want to hold money that does not lie, for in God I do not trust, nor do the 15% of Americans who identify as agnostic or atheist. We want to say a pledge of allegiance that doesn't feel hypocritical. One nation should be indivisible, but placing "under God" into the Pledge has divided the nation. In war, we must be resolved.

And we have had setbacks. Any atheist blog, or humanist news source, can remind us of the court cases we have lost, or the laws enacted that go contrary to our core thoughts. We can remember that it was but twenty years ago when a future president of the United States said that atheists should not be citizens. We can remember that it was a few years only ago that Kansas suggested that evolution and creationism were equal, the same battle being waged in Texas right now. We were sometimes defeated, but always we have risen from those ashes, ready for the next battle. In defeat, we must continue to be defiant.

Yet we have won battles. Court cases have been decided in our favour. When the judgment of Dover vs. Kitzmiller Et Al came down, atheists did not celebrate or hold parties, or pray to the higher power of Dawkins and Darwin for continued victories. We congratulated each other, congratulated the system that has allowed common sense to continue, and most tried not to rub it in the faces of our theist neighbours, for such would be rude, and it would be the same as we have seen for decades. In victory, we must be magnanimous.

And one day soon, I can hope that equality is attained on most levels. That bus ads can be run, that a secularist isn't part of the most hated group in America. That atheists feel free to self-identify as such, without worrying about discrimination or hatred or bigotry. And when those days come, we must remember that bitterness and resentment only breeds more hatred and distrust. In peace, we must have good will.

Bringing me back to H and his blog. Reading it has shown me that the man has a good head for what is right and what is not, and he's not afraid to express that. But he welcomes everyone to his ideas, to truly participate in the marketplace, and isn't afraid to hear the other point of view. Battles lost are highlit so they may be waged again; victories are posted so we know we are making progress, but they aren't oft gloated over. It is a good way for me to have learned the best way to make secularism a way of life, a way of life that seems acceptable to the majority of people who are theists.

Check it out. I've been learning a lot.

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