Inspirerande Ingersoll

Den amerikanske liberale fritänkaren och religionskritikern Robert G. Ingersoll (1833-1899) var en känd talare som drog stora skaror lyssnare när han angrep religionen och talade för frihet. Han skrev även många texter. En svensk översättning av några av hans essäer kom redan 1884 under titeln Fria tankar (som jag lyckades köpa på ett antikvariat). Författaren Mark Twain sa om honom: ”Of all men living and dead, I love Ingersoll most.”  Ingersoll var framförallt en inspiratör, som genom ett ofta mycket vackert språk visade på något bättre än religionen. Här är några exempel:

”When I became convinced that the Universe is natural — that all the ghosts and gods are myths, there entered into my brain, into my soul, into every drop of my blood, the sense, the feeling, the joy of freedom. The walls of my prison crumbled and fell, the dungeon was flooded with light, and all the bolts, and bars, and manacles became dust. I was no longer a servant, a serf, or a slave. There was for me no master in all the wide world — not even in infinite space. I was free — free to think, to express my thoughts — free to live to my own ideal — free to live for myself and those I loved — free to use all my faculties, all my senses — free to spread imagination’s wings — free to investigate, to guess and dream and hope — free to judge and determine for myself — free to reject all ignorant and cruel creeds, all the ”inspired” books that savages have produced, and all the barbarous legends of the past — free from popes and priests — free from all the ”called” and ”set apart” — free from sanctified mistakes and holy lies — free from the fear of eternal pain — free from the winged monsters of the night — free from devils, ghosts, and gods. For the first time I was free. There were no prohibited places in all the realms of thought — no air, no space, where fancy could not spread her painted wings — no chains for my limbs — no lashes for my back — no fires for my flesh — no master’s frown or threat — no following another’s steps — no need to bow, or cringe, or crawl, or utter lying words. I was free. I stood erect and fearlessly, joyously, faced all worlds.

And then my heart was filled with gratitude, with thankfulness, and went out in love to all the heroes, the thinkers who gave their lives for the liberty of hand and brain — for the freedom of labor and thought — to those who fell in the fierce fields of war, to those who died in dungeons bound with chains — to those who proudly mounted scaffold’s stairs — to those whose bones were crushed, whose flesh was scarred and torn — to those by fire consumed — to all the wise, the good, the brave of every land, whose thoughts and deeds have given freedom to the sons of men. And then I vowed to grasp the torch that they had held, and hold it high, that light might conquer darkness still.”

—  

”Intellectual liberty is the air of the soul, the sunshine of the mind, and without it, the world is a prison, the universe is a dungeon.”

”Churches are becoming political organizations…It probably will not be long until the churches will divide as sharply upon political questions, and when that day comes, if there are not liberals enough to hold the balance of power, this Government will be destroyed. The liberty of man is not safe in the hands of any church. Wherever the Bible and sword are in patnership, man is a slave.”

”Christianity has such a contemptible opinion of human nature that it does not believe a man can tell the truth unless frightened by a belief in God. No lower opinion of the human race has ever been expressed.”

”We are satisfied that there can be but little liberty on earth while men worship a tyrant in heaven.”

“Each mind has the right to lift all curtains, withdraw all veils, scale all walls, explore all recesses, all heights, all depths for itself, in spite of church or priest, or creed or book.”

”The government has no right to invade the privacy of a citizen.”

”I am an individualist instead of a Socialist. I am a believer in individuality and in each individual taking care of himself. I want the government to do just as little as it can consistently with the safety of the nation. I want as little law as possible.”

”As long as woman regards the Bible as the charter of her rights, she will be the slave of man. The Bible was not written by a woman. Within its lids there is nothing but humiliation and shame for her. She is regarded as the property of man.”

”In my judgment, the woman is the equal of the man. If there is any man I detest, it is the man who thinks he is the head of a family — the man who thinks he is ”boss!””

”The whip degrades; a severe father teaches his children to dissemble; their love is pretense, and their obedience a species of self-defense. Fear is the father of lies.”

“Let us all hope for the triumph of Light – of Right and Reason – for the victory of Fact over Falsehood, of Science over Superstition.”

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