Taking my own advice on Perspective and Context I thought I’d give readers a little more info about me so they can understand where I’m coming from in this blog. First, let me explain a bit about what I envision as the purpose and future of this blog. A couple of things got me interested in writing a blog in the first place, not least of which was “everyone is doing it”. I’d have to say that my primary purposes for this blog are to create a sort of legacy of thought for my children to one day read and for the cathartic release of getting some of these thoughts (read rants) off my chest.
A couple of years ago I helped my grandfather write down a “legacy” shortly before he passed away. He was a hard-working stern imposing figure in my youth but since the passing of my grandmother several years prior he had softened considerably. I enjoyed the conversations we had while we worked on his legacy. In the end it ran to about ten typed pages and reading over it I was taken aback by how meager and shallow the thoughts he chose to leave behind him were. It was extremely sad that at least half of it was involved with the severe emotional trauma and disappointment he felt over his one wastrel son. He and my grandmother had basically raised my uncle’s eight kids after raising their own six and it had taken a toll on him. My heart ached for him reading those pages because after a life that included living through the Great Depression, serving in the U.S. Navy during WWII (where he met my grandmother who was in the W.A.V.E.S.), raising six children, and a long and successful career as a mechanical engineer working on DoD missile programs, he chose to spend half of his legacy on the evils of alcohol and drug abuse. I bitterly regretted, for his sake, that this one negative aspect of his life had such an impact on him and I vowed that when I came to the same place in life that I would mount a better, more philosophically profound, effort than he was able to. I’m hoping to get an early start on that with this blog.
As for the cathartic release, I think it’s normal for most people to rant to those around them about the issues they face and get some sort of human response back in return. I know I personally feel the urge to rant but unfortunately on some issues I have no one to rant to. I have been interested in both religion and politics for as long as I can remember and these are obviously dangerous subjects to take up with people like co-workers and even family sometimes. Until recently I was surrounded by people at work who, although we were close friends, were diametrically opposed to my viewpoints on both religion and politics, which made for many short, uncomfortable conversations on those topics. For example:
Me: Yes, I do think stem cell research should be legal and well funded by the Federal government. The potential benefits to mankind are tremendous!
My boss: But what about the lost souls?
Me: What’s a soul?
- end of conversation -
While I have been an atheist for a long time, have many openly atheist family and friends, and feel very comfortable as such I just don’t have an outlet for discourse on the subject. I’d say I’m easily the most atheist of all the non-believers I know. Like most atheists they couldn’t really be bothered to give such nonsensical tripe as religion a second thought, and rightly so. Unlike them though I am energized on this issue by the negative impact I see religion having on government and the future of our species, all other species, and the whole planet.
Many people refer to the wonderfully campy sci-fi of the fifties and promises made in Popular Science and demand to know where their personal robot butler and flying car are. While I agree, I’m as much of a technophile as anyone, I’m more interested in humanity finally achieving the even older promises of the Enlightenment. I’m sure America’s Founding Fathers and their Enlightened brothers (and sisters) in Europe thought that with the creation of the United States success was near at hand.
I weep for the tremendous backsliding this country has suffered on Enlightenment issues in the past century and especially since the creation of the #@$%ing Moral Majority. I weep for America’s youth growing up to be voters without acquiring any understanding at all of the purpose of the American Experiment. I weep when, in low moments, I conclude that The Experiment has failed. Then I get pissed (American usage) and say to myself, “Self, not on my watch. America will only fail when the people that actually know what the Enlightenment was about give up and abandon Her.” So I also intend to use this blog to voice my support for Enlightenment ideals, secular government, science, art, and everything else beautiful in this world. I’ll do my small part while I can. Mr. Sagan, here is my candle. May it be joined by many others and continuously push back the darkness further and further.
Well, enough of that. In addition to those high falutin’ purposes I’m also interested in pretty much everything under the sun, from aardvarks to Zoroastrianism. I’m a small business owner struggling to get a couple of internet-based companies started up in this lovely economy. I patronize the arts as much as my meager means allow, especially local performance art. Even though professionally I’m a left-brained software engineer I also enjoy creating a little art of my own from time to time, especially logo and web designs. I’m a father and and a husband. I even ride a unicycle and juggle. No joke. When I was very young, maybe 13, I read about the Renaissance Humanism concept of Homo Universalis and it inspired me to try to become at least conversant on every subject I could. I also just take a pure simple pleasure in learning and knowledge. In my opinion, no time spent learning, even through failure, was ever wasted, and it’s how I plan to spend my life. I expect to blog about some pretty esoteric subjects from time to time whenever something strikes me as important enough to record.
I do have a purpose for blogging about a diversity of subjects. It’s not just the junk bin of my mind. There are more than a few excellent blogs treating with the issues of science, secular government, and atheism already and I have no plans to try to compete with the likes of Professor Dawkins, P.Z. Myers, Sam Harris, Austin Cline, or Hemant Mehta. My contribution to the overall effort will be to show critics of the atheist movement that we’re complex humans, just as they are, and as such possessors of human dignity and deserving of the same respect they accord other religious folks. It is much easier to marginalize a minority that is perceived as one dimensional, especially if you can portray them as dangerously different, and I don’t intend to allow them any excuse to perceive me that way. I’m tired of being marginalized, frankly. It’s very exciting to see the growth of a movement to do something about it, and I hope to contribute my share through this blog.
Oh yeah, I guess I should address why this blog is anonymous. I wish it weren’t necessary but as a small business owner and occasionally a job seeker I simply can’t afford to be disciminated against. While I am “out” to everyone I know personally I can’t have a google search for my name turning up this site where I criticize un-reason and demand equal rights for “heathens”. Several of my customers are religious organizations actually. It’s sad to say that in this day and age in America that this would be a concern but the fact of the matter is that you just can’t go around professing atheism and expecting equal rights or fair treatment… yet. While the EEOC does protect atheists from workplace discrimination that doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen. I’ve experienced it myself.