It seems as though I’ve been preparing for this moment for most of my life. A moment where I can accept and be proud of who I am. A moment where I can be honest with my friends and family. Most important, though, I want to stand up for what is right.
I know that many of you will be disappointed. Some of you won’t care. Still others (who are still in the closet) will wonder what it’s like to be truly “out.”
I’m not talking about orientation, I’m talking about beliefs. I believe in reason and science. I believe in thinking for one’s self. I believe in morality. I believe that a human’s highest calling is to find a spiritual peace with himself and others. I believe in generosity. I believe in the pursuit of happiness. I believe in compassion. I cannot claim these beliefs to be uniquely my own, for humanity has been striving for these things ever since the dawn of consciousness.
The stand that I am taking today is not simply that I believe in the afore mentioned values. The stand I am taking is that I believe in the unique solidarity of these values. That the study and contemplation of these values can stand alone without being attached to a particular tradition or dogma. For too long the study of morality has been attached to fairy tales. For too long compassion has been handicapped by myths. We cannot afford to let this continue. If we are going to make any progress at bringing peace, love, and relief to a world that is hurting, we have to be willing to pursue ultimate Goodness and Truth, aside from our tribal traditions and myths.
The problem with traditions and myths is that they cannot be proved. Neither can they be disproved. They are simply cerebral ideas and concepts that we hold onto at all cost. But the cost of such loyalty to these ideas is starting to add up. Humanity’s desire for peace, justice, and Truth is held back by differences in opinion over things we cannot even see or study. Our absurd loyalty to constructs of the imagination is turning us against one another. Judgment is replacing friendship. Accusations are replacing openness. Violence replacing civil discourse.
I, for one, am choosing to not form opinions over things that cannot be seen or studied. I am deciding to pursue Goodness and Truth on their merits alone, detached from any mythical claim that has no basis in reality. If we as a global community decide to do this, it will set free the study of ethics and morality from the nonsensical dogma that has held them back, allowing them (and us) to flourish.
Many others have taken this stand before me. I follow in the footsteps of Albert Einstein, Johannes Brahms, Karl Sagan, Dave Matthews, Robert Schumann, Thomas Edison, Claude Debussy, Barbara Ehrenreich, and Aaron Copland, to name only a few.
I am a person. I am a human. I am an atheist.