I'm writing this letter as an invitation and to beseech all of you to join us in healing the public rift that has arisen within the Secular community and detracted from our movement. Some have suggested this is more of an “awakening” than a “movement” and I agree; I would like to think however that this should most definitely apply to us first? Am I seriously to believe that there are supposed “freethinkers” in this awakening that have come to the conclusion that peace is not possible between the pioneers of our accomplishments? Some of the greatest minds on the planet, and we are incapable of finding common ground and behaving like rational adults? Sorry, but I just don’t buy that.
Look, I am nobody in this effort really, just a concerned activist that would like to see logic and reason be what guides our government, laws, policies, education, and decisions. I would like to see E Pluribus Unum & Carl Sagan quotes displayed in public places instead of the 10 Commandments. I would love to see all good people caring for one another regardless of what god they do or do not believe in. I would like to be taken seriously by those that believe this to be a Christian nation, even though many of us know this was always intended to indeed be a Secular nation. I mean, in reality this has been a struggle for over 200 years in this country - people of varying beliefs just wishing to follow the Constitution the way our Forefathers intended. And what a struggle it has been for many minorities, including Atheists. But finally, after all this time, here in the 21st century, we are at long last starting to be accepted (even though we remain the most distrusted minority in America), do we really want to add to our plight?
But why have we begun to gain acceptance? Those that care and are honest know it is because we have used brains over brawn, logic over faith, and reason over emotion to achieve our goals. It is because we have used these amazing minds of ours to understand that there are certain ways that mature, rational, intelligent human beings conduct themselves when they want something, want to demonstrate something, or want to prove something, especially to those that disagree with us based on faith and/or emotion. There are rules of conduct that simply MUST be followed, because when they are not things like ignorance, irrationality, illogic, and immaturity are often not far behind. And no one and no belief system should ever be allowed to break the rules just because they are in a position of power or just because they can. Is this not one of the main arguing points that demonstrate the irrationality of a ‘God’? For the more power a rational & just being or group has, the more responsibility is required not only to hope to retain that power but to establish and maintain credibility and be respected by the masses.
Why is it then that some are ignoring these rules and standards of logic and etiquette? How is it that any person that wishes to be taken seriously, listened to, looked up to, and respected can so frivolously disregard the very nature of what we have based this awakening on? How can the biggest players in this ‘game’ allow emotion, ego, and selfishness to take center stage above the very words of wisdom they expect us and especially our opposition to listen to? Are any leaders in the Secular movement honestly so attached to some personal mission or vendetta(s) that they have willfully forgotten where they came from, what this is about, and what is truly important here? And are we seriously going to allow this to spread like some disease - thereby undermining all we have worked for?
I personally have managed to stay out of this conflict for the most part, honestly I am not fully aware of all the different sides to this story, and truth is I really don’t want to know…but what I do know is this is ridiculous and should be to you too. Grown adults, FREETHINKING adults that have disposed of the irrationality of religion to instead mimic the absurdity of schoolyard bullies or to allow such to affect you in such a way so as to dictate your words & actions no matter how irrational or who it hurts? Is this what we have become? Is this where the movement is headed? To have some of the most brilliant thinkers on this pale blue dot bicker, hurl insults, use vicious tactics, and conclude outright that peace is not possible amongst our own? Where is the logic? Because here is the bottom line for me…I don’t care who you are, how intelligent you are, what your standing is in this community, or how important you believe yourself to be…if you cannot behave like a rational human being, if your argument consists of ad hominems and cheap attacks, if you gain pleasure from the misery of others, if your tactics are anything other than honorable, then in that moment when you choose to ignore the rules, that is time for YOU to be ignored. You have forfeited your right to rational discussion or to be taken seriously, it is time to step down and allow someone more disciplined than you to take over in your stead. It doesn’t matter how right your argument was, how many facts you have brought to the table, or what the other side has done to incite you…as long as they have followed the rules and you have not, it is game over for you as you have just lost your standing and you risk ever being listened to again. Even if the ‘other side’ broke the rules first, I think we can all agree that is still not reason for you to do the same. We as leaders of this movement are expected to be BETTER than that, to behave differently than the likes of internet trolls.
With the damage that has been done, is rational discussion still even possible? We believe it is…
Lee Moore from A-News, myself, and a respectable number of supporters have begun the process toward a summit and a series of ongoing talks among the various divisive factions, and we do this with no expectations of the outcome BUT we do expect from the onset for supposed rational humans to behave - rationally. Initially we are not asking nor expecting any side in the discussions to come to an agreement on their respective positions. The first step is merely to get the various sides to sit down and agree that they disagree but that we are going to make every effort to adhere to the rules of debate and just being decent human beings; for we will never be able to come to any sort of agreement if some insist on behaving like fools and/or insist that this is not at least...”possible”. All things are possible where there is the will to be open, listen, compromise, and achieve consensus.
Countries, governments and administrations disagree on a regular basis, which is why things like open discussion, summits, peace talks, and the United Nations are necessary. We have debates constantly within our own government and during election season, there are debates in courts every day all across this nation…stop to think about just how many people disagree on a regular basis? But to be respected and to be taken seriously they all are expected to share at least one thing, civility in debate. They are expected to follow the rules, and when they do it means that 2 or more rational people can disagree on a variety of subjects yet refrain from acting like imbeciles, THIS is how you set the stage for getting things done, when you agree to and demonstrate a basic respect for yourself as well as fellow human beings regardless of their position or how wrong you believe them to be. Granted, not all beliefs, views, and mentalities are deserving of respect, but this does not mean we should ignore the rules thereby damaging what we have built, undermining our purpose, risking our reputation, or losing our integrity. There simply is no excuse for rational people not being able to find a way to communicate with one another rationally.
So I ask, nay, I implore all of you to consider taking part in this attempt to bring reason BACK to the reasonable. To at least support the attempt to have the beautiful minds that help create this awakening come together like the incredible people they are and prove to all that this IS indeed possible. That arguably the most rational beings on the planet can put their ‘reason where their mouth is’ as it were and find ways to actually direct these freethinking minds towards constructive means of communication. I ask everyone to recall the positive intentions we all had when we first joined this mission, and that I hope you still share as I do? They are still relevant and important, as is this.
Please join us in helping find a way for us to discuss things openly and intelligently and to establish a guideline to follow for all that are a part of this movement, to all who wish to be a part of it, and to hopefully again encourage the discouraged?
Join us in reason…
Bernard "Flash" Kellish
Acting VP of PR & Marketing
National Atheist Party