“Kindness” covers all of my political beliefs. No need to spell them out. I believe that if, at the end, according to our abilities, we have done something to make others a little happier, and something to make ourselves a little happier, that is about the best we can do. To make others less happy is a crime. To make ourselves unhappy is where all crime starts. We must try to contribute joy to the world. That is true no matter what our problems, our health, our circumstances. We must try. I didn’t always know this and am happy I lived long enough to find it out. - Roger Ebert
As an atheist, I'm often come across the opinion that those of us without religious belief lack the kind of values that are motivated by faith. I reject this idea. My beliefs and values are as strong as anyone I know who would consider themselves religious. I believe in community and my best self is motivated by love and compassion. I'm held up and sustained by those who love and are compassionate towards me in return. I feel that each of us has the responsibility to leave the world in better shape than we found it.
In an article written in September 2011, Roger Ebert put into words the sentiments I have struggled to express. And he did so much more elegantly than I could ever dream of doing.
The man was a poet. He was smart and funny. He was passionate about his interests and the people he loved. And with his words, he comforted me more than I can ever express.
The article is called "I do not fear death" and was published in Salon. Unlike Roger Ebert, I do fear death a great deal but perhaps I'm a little less frightened now.