Tuesday, September 26, 2006


Why The Rivalry?

Went to my second London Brights meetup last night, and thoroughly enjoyed it, although I confess to feeling a little dismayed about the rivalry on display between members of the various organisations represented at the meeting, principally the BHA and the National Secular Society.

As a relative newcomer to all this, I am interested in both organisations, and indeed any and all organisations which have members who share all or some of my views. On a personal level, the BHA has proved extremely helpful and supportive in my dealings with schools, while the National Secular Society's excellent website, and in particular their 'What The Papers Say' feature, is invaluable when it comes to keeping me up to date with religious nonsense from across the globe. It's the first site I visit each morning.

I can't fathom why the National Secular Society wouldn't support the BHA and vice versa. I can't see where the conflict arises. It seems to me that — broadly, at least — we want the same things, and that it’s a monumental waste of time to argue amongst ourselves about who's going about it the right way.

1. Most of the negative comments about the BHA and NSS were from well known vocal non-members and/or critics of both. So this was not so much rivalry as dissenting views to all these organisations (including the Brights). In addition there are very few people who have been drawn to those critical views to create an alternative.

2. In the previous meetup, it was recommended (by me as it happens but this is an accepted point of view not just mine) that any Bright is free to and indeed, if they are motivated, should join any and all organisation to work with.

3. The Brights are by definition inclusive rather than exclusive (within the remit of lack of unnatural beliefs of course) and so it should be expected that will be a diversity of views. The challenge is to find the common core of agreement which inevitably, on the way, will lead to disagreements on many topics.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that there shouldn't be differences of opinion. Of course there should. As someone said at the last meeting: 'It's all very well us sitting here violently agreeing with each other...' As you say, the Brights is quite rightly inclusive. I was just a little suprised that some people seemed more concerned with discussing their grievances than the issues.
Any two organisations of human beings with strong opinions in similar fields are likely to clash from time to time.I joined and left both to form my own single member activist party.Saves a lot of hassle!
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