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 Message
    From: jmsatb5@aol.com (Jms at B5)
 Subject: Re: JMS: Bravo on the Ramirez
      To: rec.arts.sf.tv.babylon5.moderated  
    Date: 2/24/1995 4:41:00 PM  

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"There needs to be some with god, or else what you build your life on
will collapse."

Nope. Start with many of the Founding Fathers, many of whom were
deists or freethinkers or non-believers. Go back to pre-christianity, to
the great works of literature and art and architecture that survive to
this day. You cannot stand in the shadow of the Pyramids, or in the
massive burial mound in New Grange (the oldest standing structure on the
planet, pre-bronze age), and not feel awe and respect for what has been
done.

(Nuts, I left out the word "relationship" in the first sentence,
after "some." Pretend you read it there.)

Lots of people pretend to, or offer lip service to, or may even in
their view have "some relationship with god." But not damned nearly
enough of them have some relationship with the suffering of their fellow
human beings. There was our good old buddy James Watt, who said that we
don't need to preserve the forests because soon Christ will return and
eliminate the problem.

Understand clearly and do not misrepresent in any reply: I have NO
problem whatsoever with believers of any stripe. My problem emerges when
someone tells me that if I don't think as they do, my life is without
meaning or foundation. No one is entitled to make that determination but
me.

I'm an atheist. Straight up. I believe in the stubborn nobility of
the human being singular, the dignity and grace of our art and our
intellect and our heart. I believe that a race which can write a sonnet,
split the atom, and walk on the moon has *nothing* to apologize for.
I believe that because we are only here for the duration of our life, and
that there is nothing after, that therefore *each* life is as precious
and valuable a resource as diamonds, and far rarer. The Mona Lisa is of
note because there's only one. There is only one of each of us. To quote
from Lost Horizon, I believe there can be no greater or nobler creed than
the simplicity of, "Be *kind* to one another." I believe that we are
stewards of our planet and brothers and sisters to the entirety of its
population. I believe in the power of common men and women who, despite
pain and loss and overwhelming odds, can come together in common cause
and walk together into the future. I look to World War II, where ordinary
people, starting out outgunned and unprepared for war and hit by
depression and surprise attack, shrugged off their coats, straightened
their spines, and walked off to beat the mightiest military force the
world had ever known; David facing a black-uniformed Goliath that stood
astride the planet on legs of fire and steel. *That's* what we can do
when we make up our minds to do it.

As Delenn said, we are better than we think and nobler than we
know, and at the end of the day, when we face that black, implacable
wall of death, for my money what matters is being able to look back at
one's life the way one looks at the end of a long day; did we fight our
own battles, were we as kind as we could be, did we move the future a
little closer, did we uplift and ennoble and enrich?

It says in the Bible, "no greater love hath a man than that he lay
down his life for his brother." In the case of Ramirez, or the crew of
the Narn cruiser in "Acts of Sacrifice," it's true regardless of whether
the person is an atheist or an alien race.

Your question is framed around the premise of "who serves god?" but
my concern is "who serves humanity?" One may be a monk and remain in
a monestary, and speak once in a dozen years, and serve god through the
daily effort and daily prayers that are the beginning and end of his
days. One may be an atheist who gives to charity, helps build homes for
the homeless, and helps his fellows where possible. The former serves
only himself; the latter serves humanity. Both may approach their bed
at night with a clear conscience within the dictates of their beliefs.
(And yes, obviously those are two extreme examples, I'm not trying to
describe one camp or the other in such all-encompassing terms.)

That which I choose to build my life upon will not "collapse"
because it has met the criteria I set for it. I've told my stories,
touched other people; daily I receive letters from people who say that
my show has inspired them to begin careers in the sciences, or helped
them to deal with the death of a parent, or were moved by the sacrifices
portrayed in this show to give a little of themselves and switch to major
in social sciences or social work, or to become involved in charities.
The good work of this series will continue long after I am gone, and that
cannot be taken away, cannot collapse. It is already done.

And in the end, yes, all we have is the question of whether we go
with dignity and honor, knowing that we have lived our lives with passoin
(passion) and compassion in equal measure. For me, that knowledge is
enough to sustain me when the game is finally called on account of
darkness.

You do not have to believe as I do. I do not consider your choice
a vain or foolish one, or attempt to invalidate it, or suggest that it
will collapse of its own weight. All I ask is the same in response.

Do not consider this a flame, for it is not meant as such; only as
a most...vigorous response.

jms

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