As Becca mentioned in an earlier blog post, this past weekend was the 2011 CFI Leadership Conference, and the representing ISSA officers (Franklin, Ed, and Becca) learned a great deal and had a great time. The biggest problem was simply the number of hours in the day- we would wake up at 7:00, listen to speakers, talk and eat with other groups, then go back to the dorms and continue discussion over various forms of alcohol, staying up till as late as 4am before getting up the next day to repeat the process.
There were many highlights of the conference, including a truly excellent presentation given by our own Ed Clint about our positive experiences doing interfaith without sacrificing firebrand activism, and what other groups can take away from our experiences, which sparked a significant amount of talk about interfaith the rest of the weekend.
By Sunday morning everyone at the conference was pretty exhausted, and there was an award ceremony scheduled for 9:15 that morning. Becca and I were exhausted after only getting around four hours of sleep, and Ed had gotten less than an hour, so I can only imagine how he was feeling in the morning. But, being the good little ISSA representatives we were, we got up and drove over to the conference center to support the award winners. When the “Good Without God” award came up, we were extremely surprised to hear that we, in fact, were the winners, and the three of us went up to accept the award. There wasn’t any real clarification for what we won the award for, and we weren’t thinking very clearly as it was, so I will say that Ed did truly an excellent job of describing the bus ad campaign ISSA ran at the beginning of the year and how it was in large part thanks to the ideas generated at the CFI conference last year, and when he was done neither Becca nor I could really think of anything to add.
However, like any other situation like this, shortly after we sat down I thought of about a million other things we should have said while we were up there (other than, “I’d like to thank God,” obviously). I should have talked about our Interfaith Bake Sale, in which we not only worked with the Navigators to help raise money for Japan relief, but inspired MAFA to join our cause. Or our multiple blood drives we do every year. Or our service trip to Florida to help build houses with Habitat for Humanity. Or even just the board game night we did with the Navs and MSA, which, while not service related, makes significant steps forward in improving negative perceptions about atheists and show that we are just normal people who like to have fun, and, most importantly, love board games.
We should have brought up that, while it was only the three of us accepting the award, we really have our entire membership to thank. While the officers are usually the ones who plan the events, it isn't us who are "good without God"- it is everyone in the group, and without you guys, we would have never been up there accepting the award in the first place. The reason we won this award is because ISSA is filled with truly great people who not only believe that you can be good without God, but that we must demonstrate it as well. You all are truly an inspiration, not only to your officers, but to secular groups across the nation.
So, in short, thank you everyone! We were truly honored to accept the "Good Without God" award on your behalf, and all of the officers of ISSA are looking forward to an even better year starting this fall. Hopefully I'll be able to be more articulate when we go up for the next award we get :D