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At 78

By Carl S ~

This author reached the age of 78 recently. I didn't like 77. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that 78 rpm was the speed of phono records when I first heard music. ( It wasn't until many years later that my ‘first love’ became "stereo" reproduction.)

I feel funny knowing that the people I admire the most have not lived as long as me. Ravel, Carl Sagan, Bach, Bartok, Pasteur, Beethoven and Shostakovich, come to mind. At the age of 75, I asked myself what I would do for the next 25 years of my life, but by then the course had already been decided for me. I had taken the leap from writing letters to the editor into another direction. These I have been sharing with you.

In the beginning, I found FFRF listed in the back of "The God Delusion." After joining that organization, I started receiving Freethought Today, their newspaper. In one issue was a letter from Galen Rose in Maine. What do you know; he was in the local telephone book! Thus began a friendship and continuing contributions to this site.

I remember as a child going to the movies for ten cents, and watching a newsreel of a completely leveled Japanese city. For years I thought it was of one of those destroyed by atomic bombs. Later, I found out about the carpet bombings that were ongoing before the A-bombs. The effects stayed with me. Now it is unimaginable, as my friend pointed out, that we would engage in warfare with either Japan or Germany. As my old army buddy, who was stationed with me in Germany in 1960, reported to me after going there in 2014, "It's hard to believe we ever went to war with those people."

I remember watching, in the 1950's, on a black and white TV, footage from space captured by a rocket with a camera attached - proof that the earth is indeed round. My father and I watched Sputnik go by overhead, from our front lawn. I watched news of the first man in space, Yuri Gagarin, who remarked, "I didn't see God up there."

These are the most interesting of times. You and I can travel at 60 mph while listening to Baroque music. Talk about time travel! I can pass by a local church built in 1775, wherein for decades believers believed that their illnesses were the result of "sin" and not viruses or unsanitary conditions. The people who lived in Baroque and other periods could never have envisioned our times. And the future holds promise of getting even better, healthier, less ignorant and fearful, as amassing information about reality increases.

I remember an old sign hanging up in a garage, "I've been rich and I've been poor. Rich is better." I’ve been a believer and I'm a non-believer. Non-believer is much better. I had been celibate for years. It never agreed with me. Now I'm not. Guess which is better. Perhaps I've always been "different;" being bounced from parochial schools to public schools, and even being a one-time victim of a pedophile could make you feel that way. It seems I've always seen things unobvious to the average person. No apologies. Having an actual choice between the two, I think "different" is better, and maybe not just for me. "Different" people make the difference. (For instance, both WizenedSage and I agree: It is only those on the outside of religion who can free those held captive within.)

When I first began to think about those next 25 years, some things stood out. Keep writing, for one. It’s only recently that another choice I made revealed itself: to help save the world through a "women and children first" policy. Women and girls need education everywhere and at all times. They need empowerment, choices, and freedom from male/religious domination. I want to see all women now wearing imposed veils and burkas throwing them off and revealing the hair they are naturally proud to have. I want them to eventually feel very comfortable after doing so. Freeing women changes the world. (I have a report from one of the women’s charities I contribute to: in some African villages, when the women in them became educated and thereby contributors to their families, the rate of domestic violence decreased by 85%.) Everywhere women are freed up there is social progress for the betterment of all. This is a proven fact. And religious tradition is the greatest enemy of their liberation. It must be fought against. And as for children, my readers know how opposed I always will be to childhood indoctrination that keeps them from being curious, questioning, and accepting of their naturally endowed goodness. These are my missions. There is plenty to be done.

Someone suggested that atheists should write their own obituaries. This sounds gruesome to me. But on the other hand, it would keep the survivors from writing crap about a non-believer, implying, among other things, the person "really" believed, etc. So, here's an idea for my obit: Carl S. was an atheist-humanist. Atheist by birth, humanist by choice. Carl is with you no more. "He" has gone to that state before he was born, pre-womb, and becoming once again the elements born of stellar explosions. Don't say that you really knew him, because all that you really knew was the surface, not the person; it’s what 99% of the population accepts. Since this is so, he would like you to know you couldn't possibly “know" your "God" or "Jesus" either. What most people know of him or you yourself is usually hearsay anyhow. Neither will what remains of Carl be in any condition to see, hear, taste, touch, smell, or otherwise "experience" another life. (Lawd knows how this would be interpreted by my wife’s churchgoers. They'll probably still be singing their after-life song of, "I'm gonna find out.") Like another Carl S. (Sagan), "he wanted not to believe, but to know." Go and do likewise.

I'm headed over to the DVD player to look at the seafloor life no other generation knew existed. And I'm taking along a good strong cup of coffee, which I'm really, really, going to enjoy. May there be more power to women and ever more possibilities for the children. May there be less and less of religious power. May it not end with a bang, but with a whimper. Meanwhile...