I just re-read what I wrote to you and realized I left out a paragraph, that jump to raking the lawn would be pretty extreme without this:
"Understanding the outlooks of those who differ from us. What could better describe these exchanges of ours? I don't know if my friend Nathan is a secular humanist or if I am, but I am by nature curious, which might partially explain why I'm awake at 2 oclock in the morning reading about secular humanism and sending you an email."
Not enough sleep, maybe...anyway, this is the whole email. I sometimes write in a word document and then cut and paste it into an email so I don't have to have my email open for so long (if I have it open I can't see if I've got new email, and I've been exchanging emails with a friend of mine in Australia while writing to you. I used to work on his winery in the Barossa valley and he's coming to the states next friday for a mutual friend's wedding, should be good fun).
Anyway, long story short, this was what I meant to send...
I have to admit, I've heard the term "secular humanism" many times and never fully understood what it meant. So, I just went and looked it up on wikipedia (great resource, btw, not sure how I ever survived without it)
These two points jumped out at me:
· Search for truth – A constant search for objective truth, with the understanding that new knowledge and experience constantly alter our imperfect perception of it.
· This life – A concern for this life and a commitment to making it meaningful through better understanding of ourselves, our history, our intellectual and artistic achievements, and the outlooks of those who differ from us.
Understanding the outlooks of those who differ from us. What could better describe these exchanges of ours? I don't know if my friend Nathan is a secular humanist or if I am, but I am by nature curious, which might partially explain why I'm awake at 2 oclock in the morning reading about secular humanism and sending you an email.
I raked leaves yesterday. We have a fairly large property and big maples that blanket our back lawn with leaves, which if left alone turn into a mulchy mossy mess. We'd had a break in the rain (which has now ended as it's raining here now as I type) so I figured it was a good time to get the leaves up. It was no small chore, but there are times when I really need that sort of work to help me think. At one point I stopped and looked around, big swathes of grass were cleared, others still covered in leaves, and it reminded me of the map of the US we'd all had emblazoned across our TV screens for the last 24 hours. Blue states here, red states there. Underneath, though, it's one green lawn.
I don't want to wax too poetic, I think you get my drift. After the yard work, and after dinner I took my older boy to his aikido class (aikido is a martial art that practitioners use to defend themselves while also protecting their attacker from injury, also from wiki, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aikido grin, it makes me sound so much smarter. I'm an idiot in person, without google and wikipedia I can't hold an intelligent conversation).
When class was over, a few parents and Jude's teacher and myself were talking about the election and how important it was to them and to their children. The teacher, Chris, told us how his two teenage daughters were crying they were so inspired, they felt like before when people said anyone could be president it simply wasn't true, and now something like this happens and it changed their perspective.
Putting aside policies for a moment, the election of this man (half white, half black) fulfilled statements made in the declaration of independence that people simply did not believe were true. I don't want to overstate this, it's not like the skies opened up or a burning bush began speaking, but still it's important to recognize his mere election is inspirational.
The conversation turned, however, to McCain's concession speech, specifically some of the crowd reactions which seemed less than cordial. The father of one of Jude's classmates then started sharing some of the really mean-spirited things some of his conservative friends had been sending his way during the election. The juxtaposition of those two mentalities was striking, and I can hear it in your "voice" when you write to me, too, Nadine. It's the fear and uncertainty that I think the Hannity's and Beck's of the world promulgate which has gripped a significant percentage of this country, and that's unfortunate because this should be an exciting time not a frightening time.
I don't want to sound Pollyanna-ish myself, and I certainly don't think I'm going to solve things by sitting down for tea with Ahmadinejad (yes, I just looked it up on wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ahmadinejad ) Did you know he's not the supreme leader, he doesn't have final say on any foreign or domestic policy. I didn't really know that until just now.
More than anything I think we need to put aside terms like socialist, secular humanist, liberal, conservative, red state versus blue state, they presume too much. Right now, people shouldn't be calling each other names or classifying them in one way or another, we should be working together to solve real problems – getting healthcare to children, creating jobs and rebuilding this economy.
You can ask how we're going to pay for all that, and I'll just say we've found $1 trillion to give to a bunch of banks, we can find the money somewhere.
I'm curious, you mentioned the assisted suicide legislation that passed in Oregon, how did you feel about Prop 8 in California banning gay marriage, considering you have a gay son, I thought you might be opposed to it.
Don't feel you have to respond to that question if it's too personal. At this hour, here in the dark with raindrops falling on the roof, and the rest of the house asleep it seems like I can write anything. So, forgive me if any of this late night/early morning writing is intrusive or offensive in any way, it certainly is not meant to be.
Have a good day, Nadine, and I'll "talk" to you soon.