Crowd at the Reason Rally and the Washington Monument

Thoughts at the End of the Rally: How’d We Do Four Years Later?

I’ve said this to colleagues so many times over the past few months, it feels like a cliche, but I think this bears mentioning here: In general, the 2012 Reason Rally was a kind of primal scream for the American nonbeliever, a chance to show the strength of our raw numbers and enthusiasm. I think it did that really well.

What I wanted for the 2016 Reason Rally was something broader, not a “we’re here and get used to it” message, but a celebration of our values and a declaration that we would work to put those values into action to make a better world. It’s not as fiery as the 2012 message, but I think necessary, and more in line with what we really want.

For me, and for CFI certainly, it’s never been just about raise-up-the-atheists. That’s part of it, but it’s more. It’s really making the world a better place using science and skepticism as our tools, humanism as our guiding values.

Sitting here now on the floor of the exhibitors’ tent, as everything is being disassembled and Wu-Tang is performing what seems like a million miles away, I think the 2016 Reason Rally got there. I think with the mix of speakers, and the wide breadth of messages and calls to action, we got there.

Yes, we loudly and proudly championed the equality of atheists, and we took head-on the injustices and manipulations of religious dogma. But we also talked about building alliances with people who think differently from us. We talked about climate change and renewable energy and GMOs and vaccines and helping a girl in Afghanistan get the education she yearns for. We had a Hindu Member of Congress talk about saving the lives of secularists in Bangladesh, we had someone asking us to look into each other’s eyes and marvel at the workings of evolution that allowed them to arise, and we had countless calls to get civically involved so that things can be made better for everyone.

And we had Q. Didn’t have Q in 2012. So there.

This is Paul Fidalgo signing out for the day. My sincere thanks to Nora Hurley and Matt Licata for their very hard work today. They are among the best colleagues one could ask for.

See you tomorrow at the mini-con!