Being a Bright - A "How-To"
A Bright’s Easy ID
Using "bright" as a noun may seem awkward at first. A keen syntactical sense is certainly beneficial. So is a willingness to answer questions about the term in a simple fashion (sticking rigorously to the definition, of course).
Other than using the label as a means to acquaint people you know (or those who inquire) with your global worldview, there are no responsibilities to being a Bright. On the whole, most Brights will be integrating the word to the degree they wish in their lives, and in communications whenever seemingly suitable occasions, in their judgment.
No typecasting of Brights! Each person who is a Bright is an individual, period. The only thing we can know about any Bright is that the person's worldview is naturalistic.
Self-identifying as a Bright will mean saying, “I am a Bright,” but there are no rules to when, where, or how often. Persons just individually decide the extent to which they want to use the word with others. A bit of advance thought to the varied circumstances one is likely to encounter might be helpful.
With the new noun, it’s rather easy to respond to queries as to your religion (“I am a Bright”) and also, as you may wish, to freely present yourself as a Bright in varied settings.
Suppose you are in a discussion with someone and the question of human mortality and afterlife (or similar subject) comes up. If someone inquires about your own perspectives, you can pop up with “Well, actually, I don't hold to the existence of an afterlife. I am a Bright.” The other person’s curiosity will probably take hold: “A Bright? What is that?”
One of the advantages of the word “Bright” is that it allows a really simple and straightforward assertion. You state—“A Bright is a person whose worldview is naturalistic (free of supernatural and mystical elements).” Then, if your listener is truly interested in learning more, you can always proceed to extend the discussion and to explain more fully any philosophical basis behind your particular or favored category label(s).
There is nothing about the umbrella term, Bright, that limits use of any other term, such as atheist, rationalist, skeptic. One can always feel quite free to go beyond the global term to elaborate with more detail about one's philosophical leanings. If you are a Bright, though, you need not use any of the “old terms” that carry cultural baggage or that may immediately paint you into a socially preconceived negative corner (e.g. atheist, secular humanist, agnostic). With the fresh term, people can relate to you as a person and not react to a label.
By speaking out as a Bright, you can in fact help extend the Bright idea to the general population, one query or opportunity at a time. So, if you are a Bright, then why not stand up and be a Bright!
Some individuals may enjoy wearing this 'I am a Bright' concept on their sleeves, so to speak. These enthusiastic folks will use it often in conversations and writing. These are the "activist" Brights. No one needs to feel this is necessary, however. If the word is a meme, it can spread by imitation and because it serves a function, conceptually. It would help to use it more in order to speed things along, but many of us just aren't the promotional types.
Along those lines, it is helpful to remember that seeds flourish best when planted within fertile regions. The priority for today's activist Bright involves employing the word with those persons who do have a naturalistic worldview. They are "under the umbrella" of the term already, and hence most likely to find the word useful and begin to incorporate it into their vocabulary.
When the new noun meaning has taken hold among the "freethinkers of the many varied stripes," then there is greater reason to look outside this arena. Being "activist promoters" at this point among people whose worldview is clearly not naturalistic would not seem a rational strategy to help the "Bright idea" along in a positive fashion.
Language Lesson—Watching Your Syntax
Language is language, and how people use it we cannot control. It is clear, however, that a bit of sensitivity must be exercised until the word "bright" is sufficiently delineated in its added (noun) form.
A Hint. For reasons we hope are obvious, we would in fact recommend to Brights a bit of caution when discussing worldviews to intentionally practice avoiding adjectival uses that could be readily misconstrued as arrogance until such time as the term’s new meaning takes hold in mainstream society…another 20+ years?
Although of course one cannot fully avoid adjectival uses of “bright,” we see ourselves at least trying to minimize confusions. Whenever practical, we will use strategies that especially disconnect the term from its "aptitude-related" meanings in the vernacular (e.g., by pronouncing it in plural form or preceding the term with the article (a, the).
An Example. Perhaps you’d like to think of the "constituency of Brights" as a community and refer to us all together as such. How best to describe that community? We suggest that, although “the community of Brights” or “the Brights’ community” is fitting, using the singular bright (as in "the Bright Community”) is a bit problematic. In the last reference, although bright is part of the phrase, it still can seem to carry the more common meaning of intelligent, rather than the less common meaning, a person who has a naturalistic outlook. The plural form helps to delineate the term as a noun, and thereby promotes the new meaning.
When the context is clearly understood, such as in discussions among Brights themselves, both adjectival and noun forms are handy. However, when using the term outside of the community of Brights (where the context is not so clear), Brights will want to think twice about employing bright as an adjective. They can help the word along to the new intended connotation by making quite clear in their usage that a Bright is a person. This gives the neologism a better chance to take hold.