The Brights' Bulletin


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Issue #6
October 1, 2003

(Note that links in archived Bulletin issues may no longer be valid.)


The Brights' Bulletin #6, October 1, 2003

Co-Directors: Mynga Futrell and Paul Geisert

Webmaster: Kevin Schultz

 

Hello again, Fellow Brights!

* Brights Update

* Blizzard of Soundbites

* Minding Our Principles

* Families with Children

* Task Team Reports

* New Task Team: Revision of Web Site

* First Brights Meet-ups Take Place (International)

* New BrightRights Web site ( USA)

* Spreading the Brights idea

* Can't Seem to Get Caught Up!

* Tailings

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Brights Update

With thousands of Brights now in 79 nations, the Brights concept has been a focus of considerable attention on the Internet, in media and in organization journals such as Secular Nation and Free Inquiry. The best set of links to major articles on the Internet is found on the new "Bright Rights" site of the American Humanist Association. It may be of particular interest to USA Brights to see what Rush Limbaugh had to say about whether or not the "bright" noun will take hold! http://www.brightrights.org/cites/

PG and MF continue to take and process a steady flow of signups to the Brights, thanks to those who are "stepping out as Brights" with family and acquaintances. The primary task for all Brights continues to be spreading the noun and growing the Brights movement. Along those lines, recently we personally presented a PowerPoint dinner speech on the movement to the Atheists United of Los Angeles, one of the largest local organizations in the U.S. (450 members). We gave them a survey of the Brights history and progress, and they delighted and surprised us with a "Partners in Reason" award.

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Blizzard of Soundbites

We are sifting through an avalanche! The soundbite submission is finished. Kudos to the creativity of all those Brights who sent us several hundred(!) phrases in response to a request for a "simple soundbite to capture the essence of this movement." Look for us to post some of the more intriguing and uplifting phrases on the website in the very near future so that Brights as individuals can scan and perhaps choose a favored "tag line" or two.

Along with the phrases sent us, there were a few personal acrostics for the letters B-R-I-G-H-T-S. Contributors offered varied interpretations, but definitely view us as something other than "non-believers"! To Dennis, for example, Brights equate to

Believers in

Reason,

Intelligence,

Goodness,

Harmony,

Truth, and

Science

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Minding Our Principles

Some who visit the Brights' Net overlook the Brights' Principles link on the home page. Hence, we have made that link more obvious. It is now an eye-catching blue button, placed conspicuously to encourage a look. We have our reasons! Read on.

The movement's "foundational concepts" have long been stated on the Brights' Net site. We seek to sustain individual autonomy and also to avoid the implication that Brights have a single "set of beliefs." Brights is not an ideology or a religion. It is a constituency of persons whose worldviews are free of supernatural. And may it remain thus!

To click and read the Principles, go to the home page for that blue button, or just go directly to http://the-brights.net/here_we_stand.htm

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Families with Children

The first ever essay about the Brights, "The Future Looks Bright," by Richard Dawkins in the Guardian, addressed the describing of children by the religion of their parents. Said he: (C)hildren should hear themselves described not as 'Christian children' but as 'children of Christian parents'. This in itself would raise their consciousness, empower them to make up their own minds and choose which religion, if any, they favour, rather than just assume that religion means "same beliefs as parents". Dawkins projected that such a linguistically coded freedom to choose might lead some children to choose no religion whatsoever.

At the Bright's Net, we have been getting more and more sign-ups from parents and from teenagers, and also a number of inquiries about signups of youngsters. Hence, we have drafted and are now vetting a policy to address the matter of children who seek to be counted as Brights. You may review the Dawkins essay at: (link)

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Task Teams Reports

Forum Report: The Forum group has done a smashing job of getting a Brights' Forum ready to go. They have worked long, hard, and intelligently on the project. Having just received their recommendations on software, policy and procedures, we fully expect a Forum announcement to appear in the next bulletin. In fact, the team will likely have the Forum up and running well before the next Bulletin (three to four weeks).

Newsletter Announcements Report: This team, delayed initially by technical problems with the list-serve (which caused considerable confusion within the team) has reestablished communication venue but has yet to recoup and settle on a leader. Web Links Report: The volunteer Links team has organized a very systematic way of proceeding to invite links and is moving forward as their time permits.

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New Task Team for Upgrading the Web Site

During the FOUR (yes-only 4!) months of operation of the Brights' Net site, we have had a number of comments regarding its rather elementary format. A number of skilled individuals have volunteered to work on the site, so we are re-contacting those who previously exhibited such interest to assemble a new Task Team. This team's task will be to guide revising, improving, or perhaps totally revamping the current web site both for appeal and functionality.

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First Brights Meet-ups Take Place (International)

Brief Overview/Recap

The Brights' Net itself will not be organizing any meetings or membership groups, but there are ways for Brights to get together with other Brights in casual coffee house gatherings called "MeetUps." At our last check, the Brights.MeetUp.com organization showed 735 Brights registered and forty-one cities of the world having five or more Brights showing interest. Last month's largest registrations were: London (28), New York City (23), Washington D.C. (21), Boston (20), and Toronto (17). You can check on your city by going to www.brights.meetup.com and clicking on "Members". The MeetUp site will explain everything, but you must really persevere; that site is quite confusing at first.

Lessons Learned

The first gatherings took place September 22, and the next date is October 27. Based on our own personal experience with the September MeetUp, a few hints for first time MeetUp groups: The staff at the location/coffee house may not know you are coming. Tell a host and/or waiter who you are and what MeetUp is. Print out a sign in advance (from MeetUp.com) and place it on your table. Be on the lookout for others. If you don't like the meeting place, get online and change it for the next meeting.

We Ran Second

In the previous Bulletin we claimed origination of the Brights MeetUp, but we were mistaken. The American Humanist Association (AHA) had already taken that step before us!  We quote from AHA's Roy Speckhardt: "The more messengers the merrier!"

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New BrightRights Web site ( USA)

American Brights, take a look at the American Humanist Association newly launched web site, www.BrightRights.org. This new site, first announced in late September, is an AHA project dedicated to action in the arena of Bright civil rights for Americans. The site states: "The purpose of BrightRights.org is to enhance the image of brights and ensure free exercise of bright rights.” This contribution by AHA to the Brights movement can serve as a model for similar organizations in other nations who, within their own legal contexts, can best aid progress toward human rights for the full range of persons who have naturalistic worldviews.

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Spreading the Brights Idea

Brights Promotion: Most e-mail programs have the capability to tack on text with a feature called a "signature line." Perhaps you would like to create one of your own. Here is one signature we have used:

    Paul Geisert (He is a Bright)

    Mynga Futrell (She is a Bright)

    They are two Brights in Sacramento, California and part of a

    growing constituency of Brights at http://www.the-brights.net)

    Brights base their ethics and actions on a naturalistic worldview

    --free of supernatural and mystical elements..

Brights Promotion: If you write letters to editor, consider how you might couch the word "bright" in your comments, rephrase what you say into a more positive tone, and if possible include the Brights' Net URL [www.the-brights.net]. If you can find a way, seek alternatives to adjectival uses to help establish "bright" as a noun.

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Can't Seem to Get Caught Up!

In addition to our efforts for the movement, we three (Paul, Mynga, Kevin) are deep into planning for Sacramento's 2nd annual "Freethought Day" celebration on October 12. This public event, as its brochure states, is to "venerate the legal basis that sustains pluralism and liberty of conscience for persons of all religions and none." The outdoor program with exhibits and entertainment is quite an undertaking, but it is part of an effort by local nonprofit organizations to educate the community about the importance of reason and church/state separation. When we come up for air, we will find. . .

Oh yes, for the Brights: the logo selection is not yet done, and neither is the "easy" button to aid links to our site, and then there's the response to those queries, and the...  Oh, never mind. Better get going. Although we are still swamped with work for the Brights, we can say indeed: What an exciting venture!

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Tailings

 You can read prior and current Emailed Bulletins in the archive at

< www.the-brights.net/broadcast_archive.htm >

 If you prefer not to receive the Bulletin, please reply to this e-mail and place UNSUBSCRIBE on the subject line.



Brighten Op Communiqué 1 -- Thursday, October 30 2003

"Turn up the Brightness!"

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Infrequent "Brighten Op" messages invite you, as an individual, to take a timely action. The nature of the suggested action will vary (reactive or proactive, critical or complimentary), but in all cases the intent is constructive and the effect, we hope, productive. Brighten Ops will generally relate to a current event and require quick action to be effective.

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Here is a sentence from the transcript of a news conference held by George W. Bush on October 28, 2003 in Washington, D.C. The full New York Times transcript is available at

[link]

The United States' president said:

       "In America, we love the fact that we are a society in which

       people can pray openly or not pray at all for that matter."

His statement above is a tiny indication that Mr. Bush does recognize that the United States' ideal of "liberty of conscience" encompasses ALL citizens, regardless of their ultimate beliefs, religious or nonreligious.

ACTION OPTION:

It would be valuable if thousands of Brights would write and express - in their own way - their appreciation for the president's basic assertion (however "less than ideal or complete" it may be). An American, for example, might say: "Thank you Mr. Bush for recognizing that there are citizens who don't pray. We are often overlooked." Elsewhere, one might write, "The religious liberty your nation gives to all its citizens is admirable..." In writing to Bush, each Bright could blend in a mild "civics lesson" (one sorely needed by this particular official) in a positive milieu.

You can find all contact options to the U.S. president on the Brights' Net at

[ www.the-brights.net/talktobush.htm ]. On the same Web page is a link to background information that may be useful.

SUGGESTIONS:

Write in your own words. (Stay positive; this is a "thank you" note.) Feel free to say you are a Bright and what that means. The Brights' Net is a constituency of individuals, so you will be sending this message to President Bush for yourself, and not as a Brights' Net representative. At the same time, if you wish to, you may certainly identify yourself as a Bright, and perhaps state in your own words what being a Bright means (an individual whose worldview is naturalistic).

RATIONALE:

Comments and actions by pious politicians disturb brights across the globe. Many brights who write protest letters to newspapers or call in to media do so only to complain, criticize, or correct, often after having reached a level of frustration that not only spurs the action but, all too often, influences the tone (negative) and word choice. There is another way for us to act, one that is constructive-- finding SOMETHING positive to say at the slightest actions in a direction desired. The above action opportunity is to reward an "approximation" and state it as a plaudit, rather than a grumble.

 There is a saying that "You can draw more flies with honey than with vinegar." As Brights dab rhetorical honey here and there, they play a role in drawing recognition for the "civic belonging" of brights in many different social and civil contexts. Civic inclusion of brights is a goal, and Brights in most nations can take advantage of the fact that POSITIVE REINFORCEMENT is a powerful tool to mold desirable behaviors.

Wishing you a "Brighten Op" day!

Mynga Futrell and Paul Geisert

 P.S. In a couple of days you will receive BULLETIN 7

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" Brighten Ops" will be sent INFREQUENTLY. Still, if you prefer we NOT send you further such communiqués, please reply to this e-mail by placing in the SUBJECT LINE the words: NO BRIGHTEN OPS.


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