Atheist philanthropist and co-creator of The Simpsons, Sam Simon, has finally succumbed to cancer:
Nine-time Emmy winner Sam Simon, who wrote episodes of “Taxi,” “Cheers” and “It’s Garry Shandling’s Show” before co-creating landmark animated series “The Simpsons” and eventually becoming a philanthropist, died Sunday of colorectal cancer at his home in Los Angeles, his reps confirmed. He was 59 and was diagnosed with terminal cancer in late 2012.
Sam Simon has known for some time now he was going to die. He’s bee living with colorectal cancer. Unlike many super wealthy pastors, Simon knew he couldn’t take his wealth with him and has been giving boatloads of it to charity as his time on earth expired.
“I’m an atheist, but there’s a thing called tithing that a lot of religions do. Ten percent was the minimum you were supposed to give to charity every year. And I always outdid that,” Sam explains. In 2002 he started the multi-platform Sam Simon Foundation, one arm of which rescues animals from Los Angeles kill shelters and trains some of them to be service dogs for the hearing-impaired and veterans who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder. Then there’s the mobile veterinary clinic, also in Los Angeles, which offers free surgery and free spay and neuter services. But it’s not just animals; another arm of the foundation funds the Feeding Families program, a vegan food bank that offers free meals to some 400 Los Angeles families a week. “We’re on track to distribute over a half-million pounds of food to more than 65,000 people this year,” its spokesman tells me. Sam is also the largest individual donor to Save the Children, which just announced a new global philanthropic community called the Simon Society.
It also seems some religious people projected their own motivations for charity onto Sam, which is said was unfair:
“People say I’m trying to buy my way into heaven, which I don’t believe in. So that can’t be true,” Sam says. He paid for those atheist billboards that make news from time to time. Like the one by the Lincoln Tunnel, in New York, that read, IT’S A MYTH, on a picture of the stars over Bethlehem.
I know that Dave Silverman knew Sam, so if you want to leave any sympathy for Dave in the comments, I’ll make sure he sees it.
There is no heaven where Sam continues to be (and, thankfully, no hell where he will be tortured for his skepticism despite his terrestrial good deeds). There is, however, the earth he left, and people who believed like him who can be inspired by his generosity and kindness. While Sam is gone, his charitable example can live on in us. That’s the only way we can live on, and Sam most certainly will in the people whose suffering he helped to alleviate and the world he helped to change.
H/T Friendly Atheist