I'm a little concerned that I'm going to come off as a flake
It was wonderful. It was liberating. It was the most civilized group of people speaking out with incredible passion and energy you can imagine. Apparently the "Park Police" stated that it was the most well behaved crowd they'd ever seen on the Mall. Honestly, even the protesters were surprisingly calm - Westboro never came close to the actual crowd.
I didn't expect to spend so much of the rally laughing. Not only were the comedians funny, pretty much every one who spoke had a least a few jokes and got a few laughs. When you consider how many people spoke, suddenly I see a LOT of new stuff to laugh at. The feeling of being able to laugh out loud about some of the blatant hypocrisy of religion in a crowd of thousands was so unifying - it's completely outside of my experience.
To be in a crowd that large and have something in common with every one of them was kind of a strange feeling. I'm not a "joiner" by nature, so maybe this feeling is more common for other people - I've never experienced anything like it. Yes, there are noteworthy differences among atheists, and yes, those differences matter. But that's what makes it work - we can truly
agree to disagree about all kinds of stuff and still join together to work for the good of all.
There was a call to action theme throughout the day. But for those of us who aren't out, it was still incredibly inclusive. There were so many suggestions of ways to participate, and frequent acknowledgements that each should participate as best suits them. Lots of talk about politics, lots of observations of the true number of us.
It rained more or less all day. It didn't matter. I didn't care. Obviously someone was handing out condoms in African and making Jesus cry. Or maybe it just rained, because it's March in Washington DC and that's a common weather event. Who can say?
One big complaint: Bill Maher had almost nothing for his video performance, he just did a brief intro to a segment from his show that aired right before the Superbowl. I know that's when it aired because one of the people in the segment mentioned it - there was no mistaking it. That was kind of ... irritating. If he couldn't be bothered to say something specific to that audience, why bother participating at all? That's my most negative observation of the entire day.
It's hard to be clearheaded about this, I'm still pretty wound up from the whole experience. It'll take a few days to get it into some sort of perspective and decide what to do with it. My lack of belief is not brand new, but the desire to get involved is. I'm just overwhelmed by options right now - I'd have never expected to feel like I have more choices than I know how to evaluate about my atheism and my politics!
And that sentence just clarified why this is hitting me so hard. Suddenly it's like the world just opened up. Excuse me while I go shed a few more tears of relief...