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Meet a member: Ken Gould’s passion is foreign bicycle travel

Ken Gould stands on his back deck, which has a spectacular view of the Arkansas River Valley with mountains in the distance.

Name: Ken Gould.

Where I live: Little Rock, Ark.

Where and when I was born: Chicago in 1943, but we moved to Nebraska at age 3. 

Family: Deceased (2021) wife, Judy Lansky; son, Ken L. Gould of Portage, Mich.; daughter, Jackie Gould of Atlanta. 

Education: Public schools of Lyons, Neb. (population 1,020). No college-graduated teacher until sixth grade; no worry about selecting a foreign language since none was offered). Juris Doctor degree from Creighton University School of Law in 1970. 

Occupation: Emeritus professor of law at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock School of Law.

How I got where I am today: Mostly dumb luck. With absolutely no effort on my part, I was born in a not perfect but economically prosperous country that for me had few barriers to societal and economic advancement. And, not to be disregarded is the advantage that came from being born to well-educated parents whose routine use of proper English was naturally instilled in me, relieving me of the burden of learning the intricate rules for speaking and writing that somewhat difficult language and giving me an initial edge over those not so lucky. 

I was also possessed of the unearned ability to run around in circles fast enough to earn a track scholarship that completely paid all undergraduate educational expenses. That was followed by graduation from law school at a time when the student population of American legal education was expanding with the concomitant need for law schools to significantly increase the employment of additional faculty for one of life’s wonderful occupations. 

All of that, plus the good fortune of marrying one of the planet’s most wonderful, engaging women who helped remedy some of my less than positive characteristics, making me a better human being. (See page 10, November 2021 Freethought Today, “Judy Lansky was ‘unique in all the world.’”) 

Where I’m headed: Hoping to continue having a sense that my life is relevant, even at age 78, to positive causes in whatever time remains. I don’t need to be relevant by some objective standard, just to feel that my life is relevant. 

Person in history I admire: Abraham Lincoln. Having learned over the years that high intelligence and good judgment often don’t coincide, Lincoln was one person who possessed both in great measure. He often foresaw developments and took measures of which others, even his closest advisors and compatriots, were doubtful but later came to realize were wise. Lincoln can also be characterized as a freethinker — the only president not a member of any church and with an ever-inquiring mind guided by principles of rationality, as reflected by the following response in an 1862 open letter to newspaper editor Horace Greeley: “I shall try to correct errors when shown to be errors; and I shall adopt new views so fast as they shall appear to be true views.”

A quotation I like: “Keep the company of those who seek the truth — run from those who have found it.” — Vaclav Havel

Things I like: Bicycling, theater, symphonic music, art, though by no means an expert in any of those, possibly save bicycling.

Things I smite: Lack of rationality associated with public processes, though laying no claim to avoiding personal irrationality. 

My doubts about religion started: They evolved over time from early in high school, but were significantly accelerated when a Presbyterian youth minister visiting my house nearly bolted for the door when I expressed doubt about the virgin birth of Jesus Christ, in obvious unstated expression of his own doubts regarding the subject. 

Before I die: I want to continue a lifelong passion of foreign bicycle travel to view the most wonderful geographic and constructed sights of the world, and engaging peoples of different cultures without filters, that is, not as part of an organized tour but with the enriching experiences that come from meeting people directly and on their own terms.

Ways I promote freethought: By not being reticent to speak openly regarding my lack of religious belief and of my “belief in not believing” by using reason as the mode of analysis of difficult issues. I am also working with the president and members of the Arkansas Society of Freethinkers to establish a chapter of the FFRF in Arkansas.

Correction

In the December 2021 issue, Ken Gould’s state was misidentified in the convention special section photo of FFRF’s state reps. Gould is from Arkansas.

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