I read Paul Fidalgo’s Morning Heresy most every day and I often find material for the blog in the links he provides. But the Monday edition began with this brief editorial comment that I found very compelling.
I was horrified this morning, as I clicked on a news item in my Twitter stream about the beheading of a boy in Ghana, whose stepfather allegedly thought he was a wizard or something. That’s horrifying enough, but the article also contained, much to my shock, two photographs of the body. (No, I am not providing a link.) I turned away as quickly as I could, but at this moment, and I suspect for some time, that image is seared onto my brain, and my heart beats faster and more nervously every time it crosses my awareness. It reminds me that even while we haggle over tactics and what to emphasize and “mission creep” and freethought taxonomy, the real work is to get people to a) stop believing in the patently nonsensical and b) remove it as a justification for heinous acts for those who may or may not believe it, but do things in the name of the nonsensical. Yes, I want the values of humanism to be ascendent, and I want us to stop being fooled by gurus and prophets and fake alt-med, but I know we have to stop, right now, whatever it is going on in human existence that causes something to happen like this murder in Ghana.
It’s not an either/or, of course. We can — must — do both. But let us not lose sight of the fact that much of the world is irrational in a very dangerous, malevolent way. And this kind of thing only fuels my commitment to pursue both atheism and social justice with equal effort, guided by humanist principles.