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20 January 2009 @ 05:50 pm
Letter to the President (I)  
Dear Mr. President,

If all goes well, you'll probably be hearing a lot from me. I'm really excited about the change you plan to enact with your administration, and one thing I'm excited about in particular is your emphasis on transparency and accessibility. As part of my duty as a US citizen- one of your employers- I hope to keep tabs on governmental actions in coming years, and let you and my Congressional representatives know what I think.

Right off the bat, I want to thank you for two things you mentioned in your inaugural address. First is your commitment to returning science to its rightful place. Science isn't perfect, but it's the best tool we have for understanding the world around us and for improving our interaction with it. So often in the past few years, we've seen solid scientific findings and years worth of research shunned in favor of fear and superstition: attitudes that once led to a dark age that lasted for centuries. In recent times, we've seen anti-intellectualism take root among politicians and, even worse, among the administrators of our schools. I know your grandmother died this past year- so did mine, of complications related to Parkinson's Disease. I can't help but wonder, had the Bush administration thrown its support behind stem-cell research, whether things might have played out differently in her final days. Even if the research was too new to benefit my grandmother, surely it could benefit thousands of others in the future. This is just one example of trends in policy and thinking that I hope you, like I, are committed to help reversing.

Second, I wish to thank you for including non-believers when speaking of America's diverse religious makeup. I'm an atheist myself, and it was wonderful to be publicly recognized and acknowledged with respect. Several members of my own immediate family, unfortunately, refuse to do that, and I know their attitudes are, unfortunately, not rare. Some atheists liken themselves to homosexuals in that we have to remain "closeted" with certain people. It ends up being a very large group of people. I saw a poll once, for instance, in which 90% of respondents said that they wouldn't vote someone into public office if that person admitted to being an atheist. The first step to overcoming intolerance and stigma is reinforcing in the public eye that a nonreligious viewpoint exists, and that the people who hold that viewpoint aren't necessarily bad or amoral because of it. So again, thank you for acknowledging me and thousands of others whose world-views don't happen to include a deity.

Best of luck in all the challenges that lie ahead! I'll do my best to offer my time and my thoughts when and where I can.

[Contact info omitted- y'all know who I am. Or, in Pittsburghese: yinz know who I am, n'at.]
sageblessing on January 21st, 2009 12:03 am (UTC)
Absolutely brilliant.

I was really excited to hear him say that he'll be working to restore science to its rightful place in federal policy. I'm thrilled!! What an incredible feeling to hear him say that after the assclown behavior of the past 8 (plus?) years.
Miusheri: girmiusheri on January 21st, 2009 12:45 am (UTC)
Thank you! Oh yes, thrilling indeed! I can't help but think of Carl Sagan and imagine how happy he would have been of the same.
The Perfidious One, amethyst_hunter: Basketcat is pleasedamethyst_hunter on January 21st, 2009 02:31 am (UTC)
I noticed those bits too!! (the science and nonbelievers, respectively) and I went "HELL FUCKIN' YEAH BABY!!" at the TV. :D

Oh God, (no pun intended) we're gonna have someone with a REAL BRAIN in the White House!! *swoons*
Miusheri: girmiusheri on January 21st, 2009 02:38 am (UTC)
The dream's a reality now! Darth Cheney has boarded the Death Star and departed the system!

(And yes, he took Jar-Jar with him!)
(Deleted comment)
Miusheri: www.the-brights.netmiusheri on January 28th, 2009 09:51 pm (UTC)
No apologies necessary. Glad you had an enjoyable trip! =)

Yeah, I muted the ridiculously long invocation (I made a shorter, earlier post that's sort-of about that) and cringed at all the God references, for all the reasons you state. Whatever it is Obama feels about the Invisible Sky Man, that really shouldn't come up at a state function. And I absolutely hate the idea peddled by religious types that we mere, sinful mortals can't do great things on our own; that we are totally dependent on the assistance of an all-powerful invisible helper (who might smite us on a whim but really does love us), and that we need the threat of a big scary boogey man to scare us into being good.

I was just thrilled that Obama mentioned non-believers at all, without being disparaging. I can't remember the last time any public official said, "Hey, there are non-believers out there, and they're a part of this country." As opposed to, "There are non-believers out there, and they are MINIONS OF SATAN. BOOGA BOOGA!"

As expected, it'll rest upon what he actually does, rather than what he merely says, that will impress me.

Deeds are far more important than words. I plan to write in about what he does, too, good or bad. ^_^