We did indeed drive to Washington for the Reason Rally, and I think it worked out pretty well. I wish the weather had been better – we wound up leaving before PZ, Randi, Dawkins, and Eddie Izzard were up because it was just too cold and miserable. But I was satisfied that I got to go and be counted among the crowd, and it was especially great to see Adam Savage, Greta Christina, and Tim Minchin.
The crowd was impressive for such a rainy day. I’ve seen estimates ranging from 8,000 to 30,000, and we’ll never know for sure, since they couldn’t get a satellite image through the cloud cover, plus the length of the event (9 hours or so) and the weather meant people came and went. But it was definitely crowded, as well as diverse – families and young adults up through senior citizens, and a pretty good mix of ethnicities – which is a great improvement over the mostly-old-white-guys demographic of the Godless March a few years ago. The camera people really seemed to enjoy getting shots of little kids and grandmas while Tim Minchin was singing “The Pope Song” (comprising at least 50% foul language).
Most importantly, the crowd was happy and upbeat. There were a couple of negative opinions voiced onstage (including Dawkins’ unfortunate exhortation to publicly ridicule and mock religious people, rather than frankly questioning religious ideas and institutions), and a few cranky protest signs, but the event mostly stuck to David Sliverman’s expressed purpose of “Yay us!” I was also moved by the appeals to be as out as possible. I confess, as out as I am, I tend to avoid the subject in casual conversation, even if it naturally comes up. I’m now inspired to be more open about my participation in the non-believer community even with people who don’t know me well. It would be nice to believe that I could be totally out and open, even when the time comes for me to look for employment again, but I don’t think I’m that bold yet.
For those who couldn’t be there, here are some highlights:
Adam Savage’s speech, which culminated with the outstanding, much-quoted sentiment,
And finally, I have concluded through careful empirical analysis and much thought that somebody is looking out for me, keeping track of what I think about things, forgiving me when I do less than I ought, giving me strength to shoot for more than I think I am capable of. I believe they know everything that I do and think, and they still love me. And I’ve concluded, after careful consideration, that this person keeping score is me.