Monday, March 26, 2012

Lessons and Stories from the Reason Rally

by Gary Berg-Cross

There’s now considerable coverage of the Reason Rally. An example is USA Today's Richard Dawkins titled article with his quotes, as well as a random sampling of what some other prominent speakers such as:
  • Friendly atheist blogger Hemant Mehta urged people to run for office, any post from school board to Congress to dogcatcher.
  • Greta Christina, author of Why Are You Atheists So Angry?, attacked every major faith, even the teachings of the Dalai Lama. In a long litany of what makes her angry, she got all the way back to Galileo (overlooking the modern Catholic Church's restoration of his reputation).
  • Adam Savage, co-host of Mythbusters on the Discovery Channel, said there really is someone who loves and protects him and watches over his actions -- "It's me!"
Various folks have their candidate for 10 best signs at the Reason Rally,  including the Village Voice, while others are posting pictures from the Rally. All contributing to a secular archive and perhaps an inspiration for the next rally. People are talking about it.
Leal (JoyfulGypsy) used the CNN ireport for some commentary on excellent the mix of rhetoric from professional performers - singer/comedian Tim Minchin (rapping Storm), comedian Eddie Izzard, Mythbusters star Adam Savage & reasoned speeches from Richard Dawkins, Michael Shermer, Laurence Krauss and James Randi. She made the point that Reason Rally's success will be measured by the head count or the media immediate media coverage. Rather its success will be better judged by, “how well it starts what will be a long journey to a more secular future.”

With that in mind Secular Perspectives would welcome attendees and interested parties thoughts on this, starting with a sharing of stories and thoughts from the day and follow up. Many people, such as on Twitter, have remarked about the emotional high and being " beyond thrilled". Participants reported a wonderful sense of having a real community and the joy of being together with kind, thoughtful and kindred spirits. A  feast of eager-to-discuss-reasonably people. As a coming out event for some it was perhaps an ending of a splendid isolation to a more splendid community in which one can honorably belong and identify with.
I think that collecting some of these thoughts and stories in one place like Secular Perspectives will help keep the moment, break down more solitary walls and move forward on our journey towards a more enlightened and humanistic society. So please add your thoughts, haiku, photos, stories, life session, quotes etc. to the site, either as commentary to this blog or a new blog if you wish.

"I have children. I want to raise them in a world they can add value to, that has value for them. I want for them to feel entitled only to working hard at doing what they love, in order to be excellent at it, and to share their lives and the rewards with those that they love. "
                                                                                                    Adam Savage


Gary Berg-Cross said...

Left Hemispheres ( one quick thought on the tenor of people's measured response to religious protestors:

" was ok because the Christian protesters were actually a very small contingent and, more importantly, being with so many atheists made it irrelevant. It was neutered into a sideshow for our amusement. Related to that, we ran down to the area where the Westboro Baptist Church was protesting and right when we got there the WBC had packed up and driven off. I don’t know their reasons, but I would like to think that it was because they weren’t getting the usual reaction. They simply weren’t making anyone mad. It was another sideshow from people that are, in all actuality, irrelevant."

Gary Berg-Cross said...

Derek at the Illini Secular Student Alliance (ISSA) posted some thoughts on the Rally at:

He covers the major speakers and activities and records an assiduous and devoted Boswellian style reaction as admirer, student, and recorder of the speakers' words.

He prefaced his remarks with one simple observation:

"Never in my life have I ever been to an event this exciting with a crowd so energized. I have been to my fair share of large gatherings, such as sporting events, only to see fairweather fans skip out at the 7th inning stretch or bail at the first sight of rain. There was none of that here. From the opening remarks to the closing ceremonies ~20k atheists cheered, jeered, sang, and danced through the cold and the rain.

In essence, this embodies the unbreakable spirit of our movement. These are people not stubbornly fixated on their own self-righteousness due to rigid ideology or a lack of imagination. They are a people who are wholly unwavering in their search for objective truth through empirical reasoning and the scientific method. And they will not be silenced - not because they are obstinately set in their ways but because they are quite simply correct....."

Gary Berg-Cross said...

Greta Christina, who has made it a personal challenge at the rally to explain to the layperson why exactly atheists have reason to be angry also posted some follow up thoughts on her Blog

"I feel entirely incapable of writing a summary of the Reason Rally. I may take a stab at it at some point: right now, all I have is a generalized cyclone of sensations and impressions. This was a life-changingly stunning event. I am exhausted, and exhilarated. I feel like I could sleep for twelve hours. I feel like I want to bounce out of bed and take on the world. My voice is still raspy. My smile muscles are aching.

All I have right now is a generalized cyclone of sensations and impressions… distilling into one idea.

If everyone who came to the Reason Rally does just one thing for atheism that they haven’t done before?

This movement will be radically changed.

If you came to the Reason Rally, and you do just one thing for atheism that you haven’t done before? If you tell one person that you’re an atheist? If you start wearing atheist T-shirts? If you start crossing “In God We Trust” off your money? If you start hanging out with your local atheist group? If you organize one event with the local atheist group you already hang out with? If you donate money to one atheist organization? If you run for public office as an out atheist? If you start re-tweeting things about atheism?

If you do just one thing for atheism that you haven’t done before… this movement will be radically changed....."