I really love this essay by Amy Roth (aka Surly Amy) wherein she issues a challenge to the atheist and skeptical community to do something positive, even something very small, to help other people. Her thoughts are very much in line with where I’ve been heading with my activism over the last year or so.
The skeptic and atheist communities have been riddled with negativity lately. But it is in our power to change that, starting today. If even half of the people who self-identify as skeptics or atheists made a promise to actively do better, we would, as a whole, become the leaders that the world needs. Not one person, not a tiny group of horseman, but all of us collectively as a movement could show that humanity (and the animals) will benefit from humankind discarding the shackles of superstition and pseudoscience and instead embracing the ideals that come with compassion, caring and empirical knowledge.
You do not need God to do good, but you do need some sustained effort to show that it can be done.
I issue you all a challenge.
Starting today, right now, make a promise to combat the negativity we face as atheists or skeptics and do a good deed.
There are a lot of ways you can do that. It can be as simple as tweeting some words of encouragement to the women or oppressed groups online that you know get regular harassment. You could dedicate your time to a local charity. You could rescue a shelter pet or vow to eat at least one vegan meal a week. You could help a local senior group by delivering meals or giving rides to the store or to the doctor. You could donate art supplies or money to a local school. You could help build a house. The list goes on and on. But whatever you do, be vocal about it.The only way we are going to rise above the rampant sexism, and the harassment and the overall shitty reputation that this community has, is by actively changing and doing better. The good people need to rise up over the bad. If you are a lurker or a fence sitter, this is your call to stand up, speak up and be counted. If you never comment, now is the time. It doesn’t have to be here on this blog, but it needs to be somewhere. Because I know there are more good people than bad people out there. It’s just that the good people often don’t want to get involved, so they stay silent. But the voices of the good need to rise above the hate and negativity so we can move onward!
This also fits really well with the Week of Action that is being sponsored by the Foundation Beyond Belief in April, only this is a more ongoing challenge. And my response to that challenge is: I’m in. All the way. If my humanism is nothing but an abstract set of arguments, it is sterile.