On Saturday May 26 Marina Keegan, a recent graduate of Yale University, was killed in a car accident. Though Marina was only 22 she was already looking forward to a promising career: her journalism and playwriting had garnered national interest, and her writing had been featured in the New Yorker blog and the New York Times.
What the obituaries don’t usually tell you, though, is that Marina was a passionate Humanist. In 2010 she journeyed through India, with her friend Luke Vargas on a trip she planned and fund-raised for, to uncover the thriving Humanist social movement which exists there. Marina documented what she found for our magazine The New Humanism, and Marina’s commitment to social justice, compassion, and the equality of all people shines through her writing. She tackles the caste system, economic injustice, and the damaging effects of superstition with the sensitivity and wisdom of an extraordinarily gifted author with insight beyond her years.
Marina was, though distant from us, part of our community. Her dispatches from India, which showed a thriving Humanist community far from the United States, were one of the inspirations which drew us to start the Humanist Community Project. Her passionate curiosity and refusal to accept simple answers to questions about why the world’s Humanists and atheists have not yet formed stronger communities drove home, for me, how much more reasearch like hers was needed. Marina’s work in India blazed the trail for the Humanist Community Project, and her commitment to Humanism as a way of life, and her belief in social change and progress, demonstrate Humanism at its most profound.
In her first dispatch from India Marina asked “without God—what does our secularized generation believe in?” Her answer captures her spirit perfectly:
We believe in humans. In doing good for goodness’ sake. We are the generation of human rights, of public service and of global awareness. Whether or not we know it—we are a generation of Humanists; fighting for rights and dignity in the name of goodness, not God.
Today we continue that fight in Marina’s memory.
Marina’s writing for The New Humanism has been reposted on our site in honor of her life. Find the series here.