Freethinkers meeting July 25th

Thank you to everyone who turned up for the meeting and a special thank you to Jane for organising the room and food, which were both excellent. If anyone needs a meeting room for fifteen people or so in the centre of Wakefield, then Rustico’s has to be your first choice.

Nobody at the meeting knew anyone else apart from me so a certain amount of social discourse was required. Normally this would be just a few minutes of conversation but when you have a group of highly intelligent/motivated/opinionated/extrovert people, it becomes an event in itself.

It was my intention to take notes of the discussion but it rattled along like a runaway express train, switching tracks every five minutes that I found it impossible to keep up. The women were in the majority in terms of numbers and one topic of conversation I do remember was the ‘guilt’ factor women have to deal with when it comes to spending time with their children. It was mooted that this was a purely biological function as one of our group was a step mother and she did not suffer from this condition. It was generally agreed that men do not suffer any anxiety over this issue.

I remember one comment was made about social acceptance. It concerned living in Hebden Bridge which is considered by ‘average society’ to be radical and liberal. The experience of the person making the comment was that the residents were radical and liberal so long as you conformed to their community rules; step out of line and it is a different story. This was not dwelled upon but after the meeting it struck me that an opportunity for an in depth analysis was missed there; surely all communities have a set of rules that its members are expected to abide by – otherwise it would not be a community? The perfect example is our own Freethinkers group. Despite its title, it must operate with some kind of structure and vision for its members. If some hard right individuals joined in some of the meetings and voiced racist opinions and trashed the venue as well for good measure, wouldn’t the others want to remove these people from further meetings? And yet the Freethinkers group as a concept needs members with different viewpoints to attend otherwise the entire rationale behind it would be redundant. The question is, how tolerant is a community of a divergent viewpoint? I would guess Hebden Bridge is more tolerant than the average Conservative club but not as tolerant as a Freethinkers group. Maybe we could discuss it via comments here. Anyone have any insights they can share?

We did discuss the failings of most schools with regard to students who did not fit in with the general definition of success within the school system (actually, isn’t this an echo of the point about communities and what they will endorse and what they will exclude?) but to my mind the topic was too broad to get any real critical thinking skills applied to it.

In conclusion, although we had a thoroughly enjoyable time, it was felt something of value needed to be teased out of a meeting such as this. In order to achieve this in the future it was agreed that a formal structure for a meeting was required with one or two specific topics lined up for discussion. In this way, it was hoped, an enjoyable evening could be had as well as some new insights into how the world works or indeed, how we ourselves work.

This I think, would be the real value of the group; to make us think beyond our own world view. Thanks again to everyone involved.

Leave a Reply