Where are we going?
Back in mid-1993, when a motley, ragtag troupe of disaffected freethinkers converged in a South Sacramento home to begin this group, few of us expected it to outlast even a few years. After all, a social undertow of conservative religiosity and religious mania was then flooding the nation, we were swimming against the tide, and our cause seemed close to hopeless. But AOF did outlast those first years. In fact it flourished. That fact often astounds us. So where will we go in the next decade?
Hard to say. Each day is a surprise. But something that encouraged us was how soon Sacramento became fertile soil for other associations like ours, with complementary missions. Many of these have now banded together in a somewhat crazy-quilt confederacy we call the Sacramento Coalition of Reason (SacCoR) - visit its website at https://unitedcor.org/coalition-of-reason/sacramento-area/. One of our near-term goals is to encourage this coalition, help strengthen it, and enable a cross-pollination of ideas with our brothers and sisters in freethought.
Another goal, mid-term, is to foster and grow a permanent meeting facility, a “Reason House” or "Reason Center," to serve freethinkers of all stripes within the greater Sacramento area – not just AOF, but all sympathetic groups – and to help build a lasting legacy. This idea found its first spark in 1991 or thereabouts, at a meeting of the local American Humanist Association chapter. "No gods, goddesses or supernatural spirits will lurk in its foundations, nor inhabit its cosmos," as one proponent wrote then; "the walls will echo with rational discussion (and yes, philosophical argument) and conviviality. The roof will offer protection from whoever would try to still freethought voices."
Through generous donations, teamwork and careful marshalling funds, the Coalition has already taken steps to make this a reality. The homepage for the Reason Center project is here. But, we have far to go. Please support it if you can.
Longer-term goals are slippery, still evolving, and harder to pin. We keep changing. That is our singular constant, change itself. AOF will continue to refocus and evolve its goals as we ourselves evolve, and become better travellers across this landscape of life.
But at this moment, in this slice, within this magical strobe and flash of time, if you ask what we seek on the far horizon, we can say this:
o To encourage all to relish life for life, for the purpose in one's own heart;
o To teach all to think beyond the boundaries of tribal religion;
o To build a community of mind;
o To free our children from crushing authority and contagious, demoralizing memes;
o To sustain open-mindedness and learning as sacred tools;
o To dethrone institutionalized ignorance and superstition;
o To stand for the freedom to speak or to doubt;
o To advocate for the rights and interests of secular and unchurched citizens;
o To understand humanity's rise as a story free from supernatural tyranny;
o To note the role of secularism in the progress beyond slavery, bigotry and misogyny;
o To promote a lovingkindness to transcend nationality, race, gender and sexual orientation;
o To believe in the possibility of human reason and compassion;
o To question all authority, including our own;
o To protect human empathy from those who would exploit it;
o To recognize that while it may be difficult to see the full truth, one can often quite easily identify a lie;
o To defend rights for people, not systems, not governments, not ideologies;
o To assert that intelligence and honesty should not preclude one from public office;
o To recognize the fragility of life and the importance of finding joy in the moment;
o To affirm the inherent nobility of humankind;
o To dedicate ourselves to enlightened activism so that, in the words of Robert Ingersoll, "light might conquer darkness still."