Happy New Year! I spent the day on the slopes and I feel tired, but the kind of tired that I love. With that said, believe me, I am fully aware that it is January 1 and I have to post today. I was thinking a lot about the article I referenced in my last post as I was skiing today in the beautiful Sierras–great way to spend the first day of the New Year, by the way. Anyway, I was thinking more about why there didn’t seem to be a humanist presence there.
One of the reasons put forth, that I addressed in my last post, was that we (humanists) don’t have an alternative community to offer. I think it’s more cut and dried than that. I think that it’s simply that humanists are not welcome in situations such as Sandy Hook and why would non-believers go where they are not welcome?
Friedman even said, in his article, “In fairness, it should be pointed out that the families of each Newtown victim chose religious funerals. The interfaith service, by its very definition, precluded the involvement of leaders from non-faith organizations like the Ethical Culture Society or the American Humanist Association.” There simply was no place for us there.
What are we going to do, stand up at a funeral and offer rationality? Go speak at a prayer vigil and question devotion to a god that allowed such horror, or pray aloud, “where the fuck were you oh, god?” No, that would have been inappropriate. In those situations most people need to be told a fairytale in order to remain sane and that’s okay. We respectfully remained silent, something the religious have difficulty doing and so their presence, of course, was very evident, and ours was not.
We simply are not like the religious in that we are not going to foist ourselves upon those who are vulnerable and hurting. We don’t have a belief system to foist upon them anyway. It would be unethical to bring a false sense of hope to them, like the religious do; we can only bring human understanding and love–quietly, without notice.
The Humanists mentioned in the article, actually of us fellow non-believers, do not need to trot ourselves out for the religious world to see. If we do that, we will become like them. We need to reject their promptings, their put downs, their, “See! People can’t do good without God” mantra.
We need to be the ones that are there for the long haul. The ones that will be there when the media attention is gone, and the youth groups and church choirs have moved on to something else and those who are left with broken promises begin to question their god. We need to continue to be who we are, real, authentic and good. The world needs much more of that.