The First International Yoism Gathering in Amsterdam
January 26-28, 2007
Amsterdam seemed like the sanest, freest city on the only known-to-be-inhabited planet in the universe. Where else should Yoism have its first International Gathering?
It was in Amsterdam that Baruch Spinoza found the freedom to reject the Judeo-Christian notion of God. Elsewhere, he might have been killed for his rejection of God. As it was, he was "excommunicated" from (shunned by) his Jewish community. His major works were only published posthumously by his friends. It is believed that, if those writings had been published in his lifetime, Spinoza rightly feared that he would have been burned at the stake!
As it was, in his lifetime, Saint Baruch was proclaimed an atheist for his rejection of the traditional notion of God—which he replaced with a notion of the Divine Natural World. The concept known as "pantheism," with which he is associated and which is often based on his ideas, only came into being long after his death.
It is utterly mind boggling how Spinoza could have freed himself from God, Free Will and the special Divinity of the Human Soul (i.e., lying outside of the Laws of Nature/Yo), and the Mind-Body problem way back in the 17th Century, before modern psychological science, evolutionary theory, and modern physics. In many ways, Baruch Spinoza was the first Yoan. In that sense, Amsterdam could be considered the birthplace of Yoism.
Even more striking is that, until the advent of the euro, a picture of this "atheist" adorned the largest Dutch denomination of currency. For those of us wallowing in humanity's pre-enlightenment backwater, i.e., the United States of America, the notion that anyone associated with atheism could ever attain hero status is strange, to say the least.
Along with its tradition of tolerance of different religions, Amsterdam also has essentially legalized marijuana (though the situation is a bit bizarre; see Soma's legal case described here), some psychedelic drugs (e.g., 'shrooms), and all sorts of sexual behavior, including prostitution. Regardless of your feelings about such activities, the freedom and tolerance of Amsterdam is sacred to Yoism. And we must note that, despite making marijuana and prostitution legal, a smaller percentage of the Dutch (6%) are pot users, as compared with 8% of Americans and Brits and 9% of the French (countries with draconian marijuana laws). And patronage of prostitutes in Amsterdam's Red Light District is only 5% Dutch as compared to 40% Brits.
Yes, the Netherlands is proof that morality is NOT contingent on repressive laws. In fact, the nation was horrified by two killings in Amsterdam. One of a gay, anti-immigration politician in 2002 by an animal rights activist, and one in 2004 by a Dutch Muslim of a film maker who made a film critical of Islamic suppression of women. The film maker was shot and his throat was slit while he was bicycling in Amsterdam during rush hour. A letter threatening the nation was impaled on a knife stuck in his chest! The killer got a life sentence, one of a few dozen life sentences since WWII (60 years). Imagine an American state—of which, only four, California, Texas, New York, and Florida, have a larger population—of the same size with so few such violent crimes in over a half century!
But most striking of all was the response of an enlightened nation to their horror and shock. Feeling a need to take action, the national government imposed an exam on Dutch language and culture that would have to be passed by prospective immigrants before they would be allowed to come to the Netherlands. They provided a video along with the exam instructions. The video includes images of women sunbathing topless and gay marriage. Is it possible that the United States and Saudi Arabia are on the same planet and that their inhabitants are of the same species as the Dutch?
By the way, despite the lack of a violent, authoritarian response, the Netherlands has not descended into chaos.
So Amsterdam definitely seemed like the right place for the first International Yoan Gathering!
Note that the gathering planners in the US do not have much familiarity with Europe in general or Amsterdam in particular. We have selected Hotel Terminus for the gathering because it was one of the least expensive that offered both a very convenient central location along with the possibility of providing meeting/conference space.
Of course, there are other hotels and hostels in the immediate vicinity, some at significantly lower costs. One good source of information is Netherlands Hoteliers.
If enough people let us know about their intention of joining the gathering, a meeting space can be arranged for a relatively small fee. Depending on the number of participants, the cost would range from 10 to 20 Euros per person for each four hour block of time. The possible times are Friday evening, Saturday afternoon and evening, and Sunday morning. So let us know ASAP if you are planning to attend and if you are willing and able to contribute to paying for a meeting space!
If we have too few participants to justify renting a meeting space, we will still be able to get together in one of the many local restaurants. Our primary purpose is simply to meet one another and share information about developing Yoan activities around the world.
A talk will be presented by Dr. Daniel Kriegman on the founding of Yoism, its history, purpose, and mission. If more appropriate and the group is small, we can have round-table discussion instead of a formal presentation. In any case, questions and interactive discussion will be the order of the day.
If you would like to propose a presentation to be made on anything related to Yoism or any other types of activities, please let us know. Remember, creative expressions like music, singing, dancing are always welcome. If there are folks who would like to help with the planning, please contact us. Again, please let us know if you have any suggestions.
Join us in Amsterdam!
Long may the PLWYGYWO