I drove to Washington, D.C. this weekend to join the Rally to Restore Sanity. Though the massive crowd prevented us from actually seeing the program, it was wonderful to be in such a diverse crowd with one thing in common: mutual respect.
A group of people on the steps of the National Gallery of Art - East held a sign proclaiming themselves atheists, but I felt no urge to jog up and say "Hi! I'm one of you!" even though I was wearing my insider's t-shirt. Atheists might never become a strong political voice in this country--there's just nothing there to ritualize. I'm cool with that as long as society neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg, to paraphrase Thomas Jefferson.
Okay, I did overhear one skinhead say that he felt like punching someone, but of the tens of thousands of people we came into contact with--actual physical contact, that is--he was way outnumbered. So much humor, so much tolerance, so much positivity. It was a beautiful experience.
We the people came together on an achingly beautiful day in the Garden of Giants.