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The world is so exquisite with so much love and moral depth, that there is no reason to deceive ourselves with pretty stories for which there’s little good evidence.
– Carl Sagan
Although I’ve so far interacted with them only via email, social networking, and Skype, I can safely say that Polish rationalists Andrzej Koraszewski and Malgorzata Koraszewska are two of the most wonderful, kind, and inspiring people that I have ever met. I’ve long admired them, and my admiration and fondness has grown exponentially over the past two weeks.
A bit of backstory: I first encountered Andrzej and Malgorzata a few years ago, through my dear friend Jerry Coyne, who has known them for many years. Among other endeavors, Andrzej and Malgorzata run the popular Polish rationalist website Racjonalista, and they frequently translate Jerry’s articles into Polish for their site. One day, Andrzej contacted me, asking if he could translate one of my articles on Catholicism for Racjonalista. I was thrilled about this, and told him that they could do so anytime. Since then, they’ve translated and featured eight of my articles on their site, and I’m honored to be a part of Racjonalista in some small way.
(A side note: Racjonalista covers a variety of topics related to rationalism, and one section is focused on Catholicism and the Catholic Church. As far as I can ascertain from Google Translate (and from a brief Skype discussion with Andrzej a few days ago), most of the strongest debate (in the comment threads on various articles) occurs in this section of the site. This makes sense, as somewhere between 91% and 96% (!) of Polish citizens identify as Catholic, so any criticism of Catholicism and/or the Catholic Church is sure to be controversial. I know that some of my articles that have been posted on Racjonalista have provoked some contentious discussion, both on the site itself and on Racjonalista’s Facebook page.)
Andrzej and Malgorzata do amazing and important work (both for Racjonalista and for other secular/atheist/rationalist/skeptic websites, i.e. the RDFRS) and provide an invaluable resource in a country that is thirsty for rationalist and secular perspectives. In addition to translations of articles by many authors with whom you’re probably familiar, Racjonalista also posts original articles, publishes books, hosts a discussion forum/network, and provides a variety of useful resources for rationalists (and that’s just the tip of the iceberg). They are also affiliated with and work in conjunction with other Polish rationalist individuals and groups. Racjonalista is extremely popular: it receives a large amount of traffic and its Facebook page has almost 38,000 likes. Overall, Racjonalista, and the work that Andrzej and Malgorzata do, seems to foster a true sense of community, something that few websites can claim.
It’s beautiful. It’s inspiring. The work they do and the manner in which they do it makes me optimistic about the future of secular/rationalist/atheist/skeptic communities, both online and in “real life”.
Andrzej and Malgorzata have a long history of doing wonderful, much-needed, and fascinating work, and their kindness and generosity seems to know no bounds.
Jerry recently stayed at their house in Dobrzyn for over a week, and had a wonderful time. While he was there, on two occasions, I had the opportunity to briefly talk to Andrzej & Malgorzata on Skype, and I was absolutely thrilled to do so. They were even more kind and wonderful than I had expected. I also got to “meet” their cute and feisty cat Hili. Each day, Andrzej posts on Facebook a photo of Hili accompanied by a transcript of a “conversation” they’ve shared. It’s very charming and sweet. Malgorzata translates each Hili Dialogue (as we call them) into English and sends the translations to Jerry, and he often forwards them to me. & Recently, he has been posting the daily Hili Dialogues on his website (here’s one example).
Returning to Andrzej and Malgorzata and the important work they do: I hope that this post may bring at least a bit of well-deserved attention to Racjonalista (I encourage you to visit their site, to “like” Racjonalista’s Facebook page, and to share their posts on social media, etc., whether you speak Polish or not). More importantly, though, and closer to my heart, I hope that this post conveys my admiration and affection for Andrzej & Malgorzata, and my immense gratitude for the kind and sweet way in which they have treated me. They are truly wonderful people, and I am so grateful to know them ♡ (and my gratitude, of course, also extends to Jerry, who made that possible).
(Both of the photos that I included here were originally published on Jerry’s site. Clicking on a photo will take you to the post in which Jerry originally featured that photo.)