Bloggers like me are faced with an eternal dilemma. When we write something controversial, people who disagree usually let us know loud and clear, and often with creative speculations about our mental state, dubious parentage, and so on. On the other hand, people who agree rarely speak up in similar numbers – and I don’t blame them; how many permutations of “I agree” can you write? This means it often transpires that the majority of our feedback comes from the vocally ticked-off minority. After an especially raucous comment thread, sometimes even I feel a little bit battered and defensive.
It’s frustrating that this happens, although I admit I’m as guilty of it as anyone. When I get a comment or an e-mail objecting to something I’ve written, it’s easy to pounce on it and write a fierce, point-by-point rebuttal. But when I get feedback expressing gratitude or praise, I’m often much slower to respond. It’s hard to write a detailed and appreciative reply to someone you agree with without sounding trite or cliched.
The reason I bring all this is up is because it seems to me that, after all the various fracases this week over the planning and schedule of the Reason Rally, people’s tempers are getting frayed. And I don’t blame the organizers for feeling besieged, considering they’re hearing mostly hearing from a minority of people who are vocally unhappy with something, and not from the tens of thousands (fingers crossed!) of other people who plan to show up.
So, just to balance the scales a bit, let me say this: I’ve got no complaints whatsoever. I’m completely happy with the way this has been planned. I’m going to the Reason Rally this weekend to meet up with some good friends; to mingle and schmooze with some of the awesome people in the secular movement; to hear high-profile speakers give a voice to my views on the National Mall; and to participate in a show of political strength that shows the nation that us atheists have to be taken seriously. And you know what? I’m going to have a damn good time doing all of it.
And we ought to be fully aware that events like this don’t just happen. Check out the size of the sponsors list on the right side of the Reason Rally homepage, and just imagine the hundreds of hours and thousands of dollars of volunteer time and effort that have gone into organizing this: all the arrangements that had to be made, all the permits that had to be secured, all the invitations that had to be sent, all the advertising and promotion that had to be done, all the strings that had to be pulled. They’re not even charging for the privilege of attending!
So, from the bottom of my heart: Thank you, Reason Rally organizers! We have tremendous gratitude for all that you’ve done. The secular movement is advancing by leaps and bounds, and it’s all due to your hard work. I, for one, would be happy to express my appreciation in a tangible way if I meet you there (a hug, a hearty handshake, a round of drinks on me, bacon and doughnuts – take your pick). And as for the rest of you – if you’re going to the Rally as well, or if you’re just happy to see the secular community growing and thriving, make sure that the people who make it happen know that you appreciate them too!
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