This image of two men shows why our movement transcends all the false offerings of religion; it shows the moral courage and intellectual honesty of humanistic atheism, as well our love for all our brothers and sisters in the only life we have.
It’s 2012, and records are being broken. First it was the Reason rally, which drove tens of thousands of people to Washington, D.C., and made it the largest atheist/secular gathering in world history. In April, the Global Atheist Convention was held in Melbourne, Australia, and unsurprisingly, that event because the largest atheist event in Australia’s history.
As we celebrate our progress and continue the fight for a more rational, more humanistic society free of the shackles of superstition and religious pseudo-morality, as we continue the march towards full legislative and social equality for all atheists in all countries, it is important to reflect on the things, large or little, that makes our community strong.
The Global Atheist Convention was large enough of an event to attract a sizable cohort of Muslim protestors. These protestors carried signs saying “Athiesm is the CANCER, Islam is the cure”. (Yes, with the misspelling.) Also, as you can see in this video, there were synchronized chants of “Ayaan Hirsi Ali, burn in hell. Burn in hell. Christopher Hitchens, burn in hell. Burn in hell.”
The thing that cracked me up the response from the crowd, which partly consisted of the singing of the song “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life” from Monty Python’s Life of Brian. That we could take something so hateful, extreme, and ignorant, and respond to it in a fun, innocent, and parodic manner is simply amazing.
Lastly, it would be blasphemous of me to mention “inspiration” at the convention and not talk about Christopher Hitchens himself. There was a video played at the convention that paid tribute to him. It perfectly captures his tone and unapologetic stances, and the last section of the video called “On Death” hits the nail on the head when it comes to summarizing what he lived for.
It’s 2.00AM Chicago time, and I spent the last few hours making this video. I’m reading Christopher Hitchens’ letter to the American Atheist Convention, an event that he missed because of his sickness. In his letter, Mr. Hitchens describes in unmatchable elegance the resolve we must have to fight for the future of humanity.
He was not flawless, he was far from perfect. But for all his faults, the world is truly a better, more secular, more loving, and more humanistic place.
(This is also the launch of the new Youtube channel of Inspirational Freethought. I do not know yet what content will follow, but I promise it will be worth your time.)
In the rigorous pursuit of truth, atheists love to argue and debate with each other. Yes, there are many issues in the emerging secular community that still needs to be worked out. Whether we agree with each other or not, we often forget to take a moment and say “Thank You” to the people who have given a voice to those who have no voice, who have made it their life’s work to pave the road for secularism so that we could be here today.
You are unquestionably one of my heroes.
Dear Christopher Hitchens,
Your clarity of thought, your incisive wit, and your genuine and earnest disdain for religion are an inspiration to me. They have been since I finished reading god is not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything and will be for as many years as I have. Be assured that your effect today on people like myself, all over the world, has been immense. Those of us in positions of education will continue to encourage the development and constant use of critical thinking in our students in part because of you.
I want you to know that you are unquestionably one of my heroes. You stand in rare company.
May you find whatever ease you can in the time you have remaining. Thank you, sir, for so very much.
A teacher in Pennsylvania
It was not an easy journey.
… I cannot give you my atheism, nor do you desire it I imagine, but your words, though they come from a long line of brilliant atheists, gave me the confidence I do have in my stance. My passion to see others such as myself, toppling on the edge but not quite over, finally make their way into ‘de-conversion’ is stronger, and more honest, than anything I had done as a Christian.
I say all this simply to say, ‘thank you.’ Thank you for taking the extra step as an atheist and speaking up where other had been silent…
We can only continue to speak up, and to help people out of the muck, and to see what a life well-lived really looks like, no longer passively longing for the eternal reward of kissing ass or burning in Sheol like the garbage religion would have us believe we are.
A ‘new’ atheist,
Perhaps you truly don’t know the impact you have had.
Your works have helped in the battle for truth and compassion based on reason and logic. Your struggle against the forces of dogma has allowed people like myself to openly live as atheists. We need not be ashamed of the simple possession of critical thinking. The free expression of one’s self is a true gift, and you helped make that so much easier for so many of us.
I am certain that there are people walking around in our world that have benefited from your work, yet have never heard your name nor read anything you have written. I hope you take this as the deep compliment I intend it to be. You have helped create a better environment for all of us. As someone who has read your works and knows what you do for all of us, let me simply thank you and offer you best wishes.
You can read more letters like this and submit your own on DearChristopher.com.