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Thursday, July 26, 2012
the Reason Rally, March 2012
Listening to:birds sing
Reading:Street of a Thousand Blossoms, Tsukiyama
Weather:rainy, humid, 76

You may say I'm a dreamer, but I'm not the only one.

Time to get around to posting about the Reason Rally. Not sure why it took my so long, but I suspect it's a function of my general blogslacking rather than the relative importance of the event. Cuz it was ridiculously kickass and deserves a whoop whoop.

Back in March a giant coalition of atheist groups held a rally on the mall in DC to celebrate reason. All, or most, of the big A's were there, and several who were new to me. Let me list at least a few in no particular order: Hemant Mehta (the Friendly Atheist, fuckin rockstar Eddie Izzard, Adam Savage of Mythbusters, Paul Provenza, the hilarious Tim Minchin, the brilliant Greta Christina, the mighty mighty evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins, PZ Myers of Pharyngula,cosmologist and astrophysicist Lawrence Krauss, Congressman Pete Stark, Senator Tom Harkin, the amazing James Randi, Fred Edwords, Jessica Ahlquist (the Rhode Island kid who got death threats for successfully suing her school to remove a religious banner), etc. Many more.

First, what was it like out there? It was a bit rainy, entirely overcast, so we got wet. We did not give a shit. The atmosphere was incredible. There were 20,000 people there, for real. A sea of nonbelievers. It choked me up, seriously, my heart was filled with joy to be entirely surrounded by people who see the world from my angle. We have plenty of differences and diversity among us, to be sure, but our fundamental worldview is shared: there is no god, we do not let supernatural lunacy dictate our morals or choices, there is no better life in the clouds after death: this is the life you get, and goodness, love, fellowship, charity, and looking out for each other makes sense, that is why we do it, not because a book says so or because a smiting dude in the sky is watching.

I was high on this event from weeks afterward. Just the crowd alone, all the tshirts and signs displaying witty truths, the smiles and celebration, rocked me hard. But some of the speakers got down to it in a way that had me nodding like a fuckin bobblehead in solid agreement, truths that I rarely hear, except in my head as I privately read books and blogs of these great thinkers.

Because it's not easy being in this often closeted minority of nonbelievers. As Tim Minchin says, "I think the trouble with being a critical thinker or an atheist, or a humanist is that you're right. And it's quite hard being right in the face of people who are wrong without sounding like a fuckwit. People go, 'do you think the vast majority of the world is wrong?' Well yes. I don't know how to say that nicely, but yes." It can make you feel really alone to be surrounded by people who believe things you think are literally crazy. You can't buy gay marriage but you can buy a virgin birth? Seriously? You think you're actually helping somebody by merely praying? Please. And these are clearly just the freaky tip of the nutty iceberg.

Many of the speeches were outstanding, but a few were fucking awesome. Greta Christina was among my favorites. When you hear the fundamental undeniable truth about something, it just makes you wanna shout out "hell yes!" or something, maybe "amen!" It was like being in a African Methodist Church or a snakehandling full-tilt boogie evangelical church when she spoke, we were talking back to her rhythmic cadence of the list of things that piss her off. Things like: this political season we are talking about vaginas instead of the economy because the religious right is on a mission to twist up government in their voodoo, we have to endure metal detectors to fly because religious nutcases blew up the towers, a woman can't marry another woman because the believers insist on imposing their own crazy crap on everybody else, schoolboards waste time and money having to fight to teach fundamental biology, women are dying in Africa because idiots tell them baby jesus cries when they use condoms, etc.

And the music. Just awesome. Fuck the Fucking Fucker in the Fucking Pointy Hat. Yeah, we went there, just a little. It was mostly a day of reason but there was a bit of religious ridicule for comic relief, don't get your panties in a bunch.

I'm not doing this thing justice, it was truly a huge, memorable, beautiful, inspiring, thoughtful, celebratory, fun event that has never happened before in the US in my lifetime. I'm hoping it was the first of many, a chance to see we are not alone, a chance to see reason is not gone from civilization, a glimmer of light of a growing enlightenment.

permalink posted by cat 8:10 AM

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the Reason Rally, March 2012