Meet Zenon Kalafaticz

Posted on January 12, 2016

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Hello, readers, my dear friends. Today is a special day. Today I have someone I’d like you to meet!11053528_406483056192462_3349052753264660483_o Let me introduce you to Mr. Zenon Kalafaticz. Zenon is a Polish freethinker, activist, and filmmaker who I met online in 2014 after seeing his film, 324 Years After, a documentary about a group of friends who use street theater to commemorate the life of the first official Polish atheist, who was executed in 1689 by the Catholic Church. I was moved  and inspired by his film and wanted to know more about the man who made it, so I looked him up on Facebook and sent a friend request. He responded in a friendly way, and through many conversations about our shared concerns for freedom, justice, and civil liberties in our own countries and around the world, a friendship blossomed.

We’ve been friends for two years now, and I really enjoy learning about his activism, his art (film and music), and the culture and politics of Poland from his perspective. He also visits other countries and makes films, and I enjoy traveling vicariously along on his adventures through his documentaries, The Time To Be Happy Is Now (Gambia), A.C. Grayling at London Secular Rally (UK), A Word About British Atheists (UK), and The Master and His Pupil (India).

 

For his part, he has been very interested and supportive of my art (music and photography) and my teaching. My students and I study the poetry of Polish poet, Wyslawa Szymborska in my IB Literature course, so I asked Zenon if he knew her and/or her work.  He told me that:

Szymborska lived very close to my place, 10 minutes walk. She was hated by the Catholic Church, as an atheist who spoke about it openly. What infuriated them most was her will about her funeral. She wanted it to be fully secular, no priests! Right wing press was merciless to her, diminishing her as a person and as a poet.

He couldn’t comment on her poetry, since he hasn’t studied it, but he did a very kind and generous thing to contribute to mine and my students’ education. He visited the cemetery where Wislawa Szymborska is buried, and he photographed her grave. I am very grateful for his kindness and generosity to take the time to do this. Here are the photos he took:

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I would like to thank Zenon for the many ways that he has helped me–and now my students–to learn about the amazing world we live in and the excellent people who inhabit it. Thank you, Zenek!

 

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