(I temporarily caught what I can only imagine was the Black Plague. I got better.)
As if it isn’t obvious enough that I’m one of ‘those people’, I get very excited about new and interesting pieces I find. Especially when they link to one of my favorite subjects. In this case, I was hit with several of my favorites at once when an internet poster quoted ‘Ingersoll’s vow’.
If you’ve already read it, you can go ahead and leave.
Now we’ve all heard the saying, ‘beauty is in the eyes of the beholder’. As a humanities major, we usually throw that out the window rather early. You couldn’t imagine my shock as the walls of ‘you can’t judge art’ came crumbling down around me. I imagine that is why so many people consider the humanities an ‘easy A’, they think we sit around all day and jerk/schlick off on pieces of art that we particularly like. That is wrong, we only do that on Tuesdays, and we take the art to a classy movie first.
That said, sometimes you meet a piece of art that just takes your breath away. The construction of it, the message, it all comes together to lay you on your back, and tell you that it is going to be on top tonight. You blush, but you’re just going to have to take it. That’s how I feel about Ingersoll’s Vow. So now I’ll just paste the darn thing here.
When I became convinced that the universe was natural,
That all the ghosts and gods were myths,
There entered into my brain, into my soul, into every drop of my blood,
The sense, the feeling, the joy of freedom.
The walls of my prison crumbled and fell.
The dungeon was flooded with light
And all the bolts and bars and manacles turned to dust.
I was no longer a servant, a serf, or a slave.
There was for me no master in all the wide world, not even in infinite space.
I was free to think.
Free to express my thoughts,
Free to live in my own ideal.
Free to live for myself, and those I loved.
Free to use all my faculties, all my senses.
Free to spread imagination’s wings,
Free to investigate, to guess, and dream and hope.
Free to judge and determine for myself.
Free to reject all ignorant and cruel creeds,
All the inspired books that savages have produced,
And the barbarous legends of the past.
Free from sanctified mistakes and “holy” lies.
Free from the fear of eternal pain,
Free from the winged monsters of the night.
Free from devils, ghosts and gods.
For the first time I was free.
There were no prohibited places in all of the realm of thought.
No error, no space where fancy could not spread her painted wings.
No chains for my limbs.
No lashes for my back.
No flames for my flesh.
No Master’s frown or threat,
No following in another’s steps.
No need to bow or cringe or crawl, or utter lying words.
I was free; I stood erect and fearlessly, joyously faced all worlds.
My heart was filled with gratitude, with thankfulness,
And went out in love to all the heros, the thinkers who gave their lives
For liberty of hand and brain,
For the freedom of labor and thought to those who fell
On the fierce fields of war.
To those who died in dungeons, bound in chains,
To those by fire consumed,
To all the wise, the good, the brave of every land
Whose thoughts and deeds have given freedom to the sons of men.
And then, I vowed to grasp the torch that they held, and hold it high,
That light might conquer darkness still.
I just enjoy that, I can feel that. If there was ever a way to summarize the freedom of atheism, I think this is a good go at it.
Have you ever read a piece that gave you those sort of feels, as if it summarized a section of your life better than you ever could?