Making a Movement


All Over the World

A bright is defined as a person whose worldview is naturalistic (free of supernatural and mystical elements).  There are lots and lots and lots of persons who have such a worldview. They are different in many ways, but they share a common outlook on the world, one free of supernaturalism.

Of course, not all these brights know they are brights, since this terminology has only recently been introduced.

In many societies in the world, potential brights maintain a low profile regarding their worldview.  All too many of them just don't mention their outlook to others, and and hence the worldview of brights is insufficiently expressed within a given culture.  

There are far more brights than seem to exist, and society would benefit greatly from the full civic participation of these people. We hope to build a constituency of individuals who see themselves as fitting the given definition of a bright and who will use the term to self-identify as occasions may present.  In other words, these Brights, by personal use of the new label as they themselves wish, add to the visibility of brights within society and increase the likelihood of other brights also coming forth.

Side note on capitalization: You will find both upper and lower case forms of "bright" on this site. A temporary technique involves using uppercase in regard to persons who have signed up as part of the Internet constituency, with lowercase for generic use.  (We have previously extensively capitalized the B as an interim modus operandi to help delineate the noun form from adjectival. As the neologism has appeared in more media, however, we are phasing out this practice as unnecessary.)

This Web site (www.The-Brights.Net) allows brights to sign themselves into the "Internet Constituency of Brights." [If you sign, you will be in on the ground floor of a movement.]

Note: For now, the U.S. is the focus, but the movement itself has no boundaries. All brights are welcome to the Internet constituency. There are already Brights in Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, England, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Israel, Japan, Netherlands, New Zealand, Poland, and South Africa.

The-Brights.Net will be a corpus of individuals who can and will speak their minds (as brights, free of “sundry supernaturalism”) and vote their consciences accordingly.  By their visible example, they can help other brights to step forward and take on the challenge of more firmly expressing their worldview. There will be greater social and political action by brights as more persons take on the identity of brights.

The Brights Movement is an endeavor to unite brights under the umbrella of a common name.

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Why Unify?

The primary focus of the Brights Movement is the marginalized situation of brights in the political and cultural landscape of society. 

Today's brights are all too invisible. They are ignored by most and their philosophical perspectives are disparaged by many.  Unlike their fellow citizens whose worldviews are more culturally accepted, all too many brights are reluctant to engage themselves fully and openly in civic concerns and the business of the nation.

Having a naturalistic worldview means that brights are not themselves religious, although they may (for social reasons, for example) participate with family or others in organized religion's institutions and practices. By their presence and contributions, they augment those institutions.

If brights are candid about their personal perspective on ultimate beliefs, nature of and origins of the universe and life, and so on (revealing their own outlook in ways that fellow citizens do theirs), they may find themselves considerably less welcome at the "civic table" where decisions are made.  Brights are hampered by existing labels loaded with cultural and historical "baggage." To avoid using such terminology, they simply stay silent, or inactive. The Brights Movement hopes to facilitate more open and active civic participation by persons whose worldview is naturalistic.

If we are successful with this movement, then before we are done everyone (politicians, media, do-gooders, religionists, clergy, friends and family, acquaintances and employers, etc.) will acknowledge and justly attend to the voices of the many and diverse brights.

The brights—all the varied persons whose worldview is naturalistic—can speak out within our society. They can combine voices and begin candidly to self-identify and thus foster a social climate that allows and encourages religious individuals to similarly identify the nonreligious as brights.

The more brights we have speaking out with identity as brights, the louder will be the voice for reason in our faiths-flooded high religiosity politics and culture. Our society very much needs the full civic participation of brights.

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Toward a Visible Constituency

Many individuals have already declared themselves to be brights.  Each of these "pioneer Brights" has wanted to be counted as one in the constituency of Brights. When the cyber-population count is large enough, we can start to use our power as brights to influence legislators and the public, and to help build better civic understanding of the naturalistic worldview and of the full right of citizens to hold that worldview.

If you decide that you are a bright, please sign up to be one of the new Internet constituency so that you can be counted.

While all Brights are encouraged to join local and national organizations to express solidarity with the "community of reason" or "freethought community," this Brights Movement is not and never will be an organization.  It can, however, and should (given the tenor of the times) become a constituency, and when it grows large enough, it will be heard by society and politicians!

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Aims and Actions

One long-term goal is to change the vocabulary of mainstream society” such that bright is used in a new way, somewhat analogous to the use of the word gay. (The end results can be similar, even if the etymology is different.)

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The Nature of this New Word—Bright

A Noun?—Yes!  What we have learned from the term "gay"--which took on new meaning in the vernacular within less than two decades--is that society can indeed learn to give a different connotation to an existing term.

“Bright” in customary usage is of course a modifier (adjective), so we are introducing a new use for a familiar word.

This “bright(as a noun) has a rigid meaning:A bright is a person whose worldview is naturalistic (free of supernatural and mystical elements).  Brights base their ethics and actions on a naturalistic worldview, one free of any deities, fairies, angels, ghosts, demons, sprites, etc.

Meme?—Maybe.  A meme is a word, idea, or behavior that spontaneously spreads through a given social group. Memes are analogous to viruses. Once a meme gets started, perhaps by someone on TV, or in some song or some joke, it spreads from person to person somewhat like the flu. No one really plans for memes, they just seem to happen, and they can spread swiftly.

The noun “bright” may or may not be a meme that catches on and spreads spontaneously, but we can “make bright happen”!  The vocabulary can take hold if and when enough of the brights of the nation use the word to identify themselves.

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Potential Cultural Benefits

What are the advantages to those of us who do hold a naturalistic worldview to pursue this sort of action to change vocabulary?  Here are benefits we would suggest for consideration":

  • By adopting and using the new noun term, we collectively surmount a diverse "philosophical lexicon" which blurs and disguises what is actually a critical cultural commonality.

    The umbrella term makes more visible in society our mutual life stance and garners greater capacity for all our fellow citizens who share a naturalistic worldview to translate their outlook into positive social and political action.

  • Having this term in the lexicon and using it in the public sphere lets us break free from the "comparative terminology" of the dominant culture, which so capably casts a dark shadow over those who do state publicly their naturalistic beliefs, tying up their identity and social standing with negative labels in such a way that they all too commonly avoid disapproval by way of civic silence. 

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Spreading a (Possible) Meme

Right now, we are putting forth to all the various persons who have a naturalistic worldview, this proposal regarding the new "umbrella term" [bright]:

  1. add it to your linguistic repertoire
    You can use this new noun, as circumstances seem conducive, to identify yourself by your generic worldview.

  2. help to establish it within society
    By strict adherence to its simple definition, and by following a general usage protocol, you can by example spread the meaning in a positive way to persons with whom you interact.  You can tell others there is a national constituency of Brights.

There will be a series of interim steps to pursue to promote adoption and correct usage of this new umbrella term [ bright] within our broader society. These steps are expected to evolve based on progress of the movement.

The nation can learn to think of “bright ”as a term for an individual with a naturalistic worldview. (What a nice, clean dictionary entry!) 

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Getting On Board the Movement

A later movement goal would involve facilitating political and social action. The first step, though, is linguistic and interpersonal--Brights spreading the word about the bright idea.

We must succeed in getting lots and lots of brights comfortable with using the noun identifier (in correct syntax) and signing up as Brights. Brights can increase awareness:

  • within the freethought community and
  • in appropriate situations with others, such as in the example scenario (see Being a Bright: Scenario).

By far the priority focus is spreading awareness to those persons who already have a naturalistic worldview and freely say so. The reason is simple, those involved in the community of reason are easily identifiable using existing organizations. These "just might become Brights" could certainly benefit from simple exposure to the new term, followed by direction to this Web site, to learn more and to decide if they would themselves find the term useful.

A secondary awareness focus involves alerting those nonreligious individuals who have a naturalistic worldview but are not affiliated with any group. This group will be influenced mostly by media accounts during the initial growth of the movement.

Bright activists are those who wish to engage energetically in efforts to spread the name and cultivate its “meme potential.” If you would like to be part of a cadre of such activists, Email to The-Brights@the-brights.net and say so. Creative people with talents in art, media, and web building are more than welcome to contribute their ideas, talents, and products to the early stages of this movement. Activists—together with the Brights themselves (individuals)—will hope to “Brighten”  society.

The long-term goal of the B rights Movement (a ways down the path for now, just like that billionth hamburger of McDonalds was once far to the future) is to establish a clear and welcome "place at the civic table" for people whose worldview is naturalistic, whose understandings are conceptually free of supernaturalism and mysticism, whose values and morality are grounded in the natural world, and whose conduct proceeds from such a basis.  In their civic participation, we feel, lies hope for a free and democratic society in the world, and perhaps for the real world in which we all reside.

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Broad Outline of Action (Summary)

 The Brights' Network will seek social and civic influence generally in three stages:

  • Grow the Brights numerically to increase general visibility and raise awareness (current priority)
  • Call for and/or facilitate individual actions by Brights in specific situations (future)
  • Arrange for actions by cadres of constituents in explicit circumstances (future)

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The Brights' Net
P.O. Box 163418
Sacramento, CA 95816 USA

E-mail: the-brights@the-brights.net
To be counted as a Bright, please use the registration form.

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