The Brights' Bulletin
April 30, 2008
(Note that links in archived Bulletin issues may no longer be valid.)
MAY 2008 BULLETIN
SOME PLEASANT SURPRISES FROM THE POSTCARD PROJECT
One of the best things at Brights Central is being on the receiving end of the unanticipated remarks that individual Brights email to BC. Even the simple postcard project spurred a lot of spontaneous commentary. Here’s one of our favorites:
Received from Ken: “I will start with state of Texas down here behind the fundamentalist curtain and go right up to all candidates in the upcoming election; I'll make it 30 [cards] or die trying.”
What if more registered Brights had Ken’s enthusiasm and stepped forward with a concrete action of some type on an issue that concerns them? We’ve learned that it really doesn’t take many Brights to spark a response from an American politician. Even just sending out pre-printed postcards in modest numbers will prompt some notice. How do we know? BC had distributed 3,750 cards (to just 212 Brights) when the first ever campaign literature of a current presidential contender arrived in The Brights’ Net’s post office box.
A handful of Brights added a bit of reimbursement to The Brights’ Net to help recoup costs of purchasing the postcards for the Brights’ Awareness Project! That action was definitely unexpected, so thanks, folks!
The nonpartisan action project continues. To view the text and to get directions on how to obtain your FREE postal cards, go to: http://tinyurl.com/5swbnd
TIDINGS OF FINANCIAL STABILITY FOR 2008
The March Equinox fund drive again fell sharply below our aspirations as far as donations received from across the broad constituency, but one person has undeniably given a singular vote of confidence to the organization and to the positive direction in which this movement is headed.
An individual who wishes to remain anonymous contributed $52,000 (U.S.) to further the activities of The Brights’ Net! The donor’s generosity has set the stage for increased activity to elevate the naturalistic worldview.
We cannot expect that major donors such as the one above can fully fund this determined organization. Consequently, if you also value the educational mission to broaden public understanding of the naturalistic worldview and to further constructive civic engagement by brights, consider augmenting the action options that are now under consideration. Here’s how you can add your own vote of confidence.
Click here for general information:
Click here to donate:
The recent substantial injection of funds serves as impetus for our "breaking loose" from some of the severely restrictive constraints at the operational center of the Brights movement. Already the following actions are being implemented in several budget categories. As reference, you may review The Brights’ Net’s budget at: http://www.the-brights.net/funding/Budget2008.html
1.0 [Organizational Support & Staffing]: This month The Brights’ Net welcomes Michael Jones on board as Web Developer. He is busy now learning the ropes. In addition to serving as Co-webmaster with Kevin, Michael will be tackling specific items that have been resting on the back burner. One priority for him is implementing mini-videos on the website. (He projects that Daniel Dennett’s speaking on “The Appeal of the Brights movement” will be announced in the next Bulletin.) Michael will then be consulting with both BC and Theo (Web architect of the current site) to plan its modernization.
2.0 [Office]: TBN has contracted for a small work space in a business setting (close by, but out of the co-directors’ living room!). As soon as the move of operations into the office has been completed, Brights will be welcome to visit.
4.0 [Programmatic]/4.2: The immediate priority is development of a Wiki for assembling online some useful educational resources (lessons and activities). The project was recently initiated in cooperation with four other organizations. It is to be hosted by The Brights’ Net and will be dependent for success on contributions by Brights. (See separate item: “Youth Education”).
THE “YOUTH EDUCATION” PRIORITY
It is no surprise that youngsters who are growing up in societies inundated with beliefs in supernatural realms absorb the milieu and, along with it, many constraints on their thinking. Insufficient learning experiences exist to address this reality. After considering the problem along with leaders in other organzations, Co-Directors are committing resources of The Brights’ Net to a definitive project in “Action Arena 2.” For lack of a better label at this point, it is simply called the “youth education” project.
A REMINDER: The Brights’ Net wishes Brights to contribute their talents in ways that go beyond merely inviting others who have a naturalistic worldview to learn about the movement. Prior polling of the constituency firmly established three arenas of priority for individual and collective action across the years, and The Brights’ Net will coordinate well-aligned projects in these arenas as resources permit. You can see the three action arenas at:
The project involves creating an online repository of accessible activities. The endeavor will be pursued in conjunction with participants from four other organizations (American Humanist Association, Camp Quest; Florida Humanist Association; Objectivity, Accuracy and Balance In Teaching About Religion). It will begin with a Wiki to be hosted by The Brights’ Net, so that Brights worldwide are able to participate as contributors.
Once adequately established, TBN will provide opportunities for interested and knowledgeable Brights to participate, particularly parents, teachers, and those who work with youth.
The project is focused on four niches of educational concern: critical thinking; making meaning; ethics; and open inquiry (these categories may evolve). Check Bulletins across the next several months for specifics.
FEELING DIFFERENT NOW
Sarah (Australia): “I previously identified myself as rationalist but this is a much better way of putting my views without having to be so confrontational about it. Thank you for giving me the language.”
Michell (USA): “By signing up at your site, I felt a little like I was “coming out”! An interesting feeling...”
Yvette (UK): “I feel less alone in my world view, knowing that 'Brights' exist.”
Jordan (USA): “So glad to see this. I wasn’t prepared to wear the large red A but I’m excited to sign up as a bright!"
Jesse (USA): “I feel that associating with the Brights movement helps me in my own self-image as the type of person I am, and strive to be more knowledgeable. Thank you to all of the Brights who have helped me shed the fear of just being myself as an atheist. Hopefully one day ALL those who fit the brights criteria will 'come out' and no longer be afraid to do so. Thank you all again for helping to propel me to a new point in my life.”
COMMUNICATING YOUR INDIVIDUALITY
As a registered Bright, you are a member of the Brights’ constituency. So, what does “being a Bright” say about you and what you believe? What does it say about what Brights believe?
EASY ANSWER: You believe whatever it is you believe! Whatever that is, only you can state it, no one "speaks for you." Brights can state their multiplicity of beliefs for themselves, as individuals. What we CAN say about you and your fellow Brights is that your overall worldview is naturalistic (“free of supernatural elements").
The Brights’ Net offers a static cling window decal that states: “The Brights: No Supernatural Ingredients.” To purchase a decal, go to:
SPEAKING FOR YOURSELF
By being open and affirmative regarding your supernaturalism-free worldview, you spread awareness. Fellow citizens grow to recognize the presence of the naturalistic type of outlook.
When you send a letter to an editor and mention the Brights, give some thought to the Brights movement’s aims and principles. (The manner by which you convey your opinions becomes a factor in the lessons that others learn about the Brights movement.)
Also, make clear that you are an individual Bright. You are speaking for yourself, and not for others, or for the organization. For example, you can sign a letter to an editor as follows:
(a constituent in www.The-Brights.Net)
Occasionally review TBN's communication policies. The link is at:
MANY INDIVIDUALS; ONE UNYIELDING DEFINITION
From Mike (USA): “I appreciate your website and your emphasis on one definition with allowance for various interpretations.”
In a world where variations abound for most terms (worldview, philosophy, religion, belief, etc.), the original stated definition of “a bright” is fixed. This definition is the basis on which people make their decisions to be counted as Brights in the registry, and so it stays the same, even in the face of ongoing discussions and pressures of other evolving terminology.
The single definition is the common factor for all the members of the constituency. Whereas the first principle for the Brights movement acknowledges the individuality of the Brights in the constituency, the second principle addresses their common denominator: a naturalistic (type of) worldview.
The nine Brights’ Net’s principles are listed at:
BRIGHTS AND SUPERS; SUPERS AND BRIGHTS
You are “with it” if you know that:
* the antonym of a bright is a super (for "supernatural")
* the noun: “bright” refers to a worldview, not to the intellect of individuals who hold that worldview
* the word alludes to the Enlightenment, an optimistic time of anticipation that reason and science would move humanity toward a better world
* the zone of demarcation between brights and supers differs from the one that separates religion and nonreligion
You’re “way off base” if you think:
* Supers have superior intelligence
* Brights have superior intelligence
* These terms (brights and supers) say anything at all about intelligence
It is important to the movement that Brights use the noun term properly. Check out the “synopsis page” for an overview or a refresher of “brights and supers” language. You will find the page at:
From DJ (UK): “I think that the natural is super.”
“DISCUSS IT” OR “DO IT” -- IT’S UP TO YOU!
This is an Internet constituency and not a typical membership organization; hence, the movement is dependent on constituents themselves to take action and pursue goals to fruition.
Although millions of words have flowed through the discussion forums of the Brights movement, they have not left a hefty set of concrete results in their wake. Discussion of ideas goes only so far. There is a maxim: “Actions speak louder than words.” However, words ARE actions, and it is important for Brights to consider carefully what words to use to effect in any situation.
One of the latest items under discussion in the Brights forums is the idea of a “field guide” for activism. This idea, proposed by Australian DannyfromTower, was based on a personal experience of speaking out. Here is an interesting tidbit from the thread, which you can read in full at:
“The field guide needs to contain a chapter about developing courage as opposed to anger. This incident has taught me that to stand up and quietly but firmly speak your piece is important. Another chapter needs to be about listening. Doing that properly allowed me to hear what each individual was about, and identify those that were reasonable and those that were not. Several of the Supers have been quite reasonable and, as it turns out, as upset by the process so far as I have been.”
A field guide for courage as opposed to anger would be a worthy contribution to this movement. But, even if a field guide is never produced, the concept alone is worthy of consideration by activist Brights who wish to get some supers on their side to actually work to change unsettling situations.
THE CONSTITUENCY CONNECTION
Do you ever wonder how many Brights are within N miles of you and what changes you might be able to produce if you were able to get together?
For those who want to take a leadership role in connecting a region’s individuals to one another, the answer is available. Check out the information on starting a Brights Local Constituency in order to meet and pursue an action project of mutual interest. You will find information at:
WHAT D’YA KNOW!
Brian (USA): “There are more atheists in the Marine Corps than people realize.”
EARLY LEARNING FOR CHILDREN OF BRIGHTS?
Doug (USA): My wife and I are searching for a preschool program for our 3-year old. Many pre-K programs are affiliated with some church or other. We were wondering if you had any information on secular preschool programs or where to look for such a thing.”
BC'S ANSWER: Some local humanist groups are beginning to consider establishing “voluntary Pre-Kindergarten” programs, but such groups lag far, far behind churches in focusing on youth education. A VPK is a well-formed program for developing core skills and habits for early learning (not a replacement for kindergarten) and can even serve as a “feeder” to an elementary school, but it is a relatively recent idea. While they may eventually prove to be a valuable part of early education for secular parents, such VPKs are as rare as needles in haystacks.
An established Ethical Society or a thriving Unitarian Universalist fellowship in your community may offer a preschool program in conjunction with its activities or refer you to secular programs in your community. (Significant proportions of UU congregants, for example, have a naturalistic worldview. However, even these programs are all too few and widely scattered, and of course you would definitely need to interview whoever was in charge of any program to make sure it fits your needs.
If you have suggestions for Doug, email to firstname.lastname@example.org
U.K. BRIGHTS SENT BULLETIN
Everyone in the UK should have received his/her newsletter from Quentin, UK Brights coordinator. There are 4,124 who received the Bulletin.
USE OF YOUR NAME/EMAIL ADDRESS
The Brights’ Net NEVER provides your email or home address to anyone under any circumstances without your permission. Occasionally we email announcements of local events or information about the formation of a new Brights’ group or an activity in your area that is considered of likely interest to Brights. Such messages are sent from Brights Central.
REFERENCE GUIDE TO BRIGHTS INFORMATION
All the Bulletins, including this one, may be found via the link in the right column of the home page at : http://www.the-brights.net
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Bright Regards from Paul Geisert and Mynga Futrell
Co-Directors of The Brights' Net