Friday, March 25, 2011

Cultural Isolation

Being an outspoken, or at least out of the closet, atheist, can have a definite downside; isolation from your local community. Sure, you might find one or two fellow atheists to converse with, but for the most part, you're on your own.

It's definitely not for the weak, takes strength to be the person you are. More than likely, there are many more atheists in the area, but they would rather be hypocrites than live in seclusion. Again, to be honest with what you think, perhaps know, to be true, takes heart; lots of heart.

I met a couple a few weeks ago. He was a programmer, she a hospital administrator. We have gotten together a few times now, very enjoyable. Our discussions were great. Talked about work, about politics, about music and about the community; we talked about life. The last time I talked to them religion was brought up. He is a catholic, she is spiritual. I, being of sound mind and body, replied, "I am an atheist."

I sure am going to miss the hugs from that pretty lady.

Hopefully we will get together again and discuss our thoughts on religion. This is the risk you take when you identify yourself as an atheist, but one that must be taken. I'd rather not see those two again then pretend to be what I am not.

That is the dilemma atheists face in this country. We know the statistics; atheists are the least trusted segment of the American population. This problem will remain as long as atheists stay silent, (here comes the usual rant). If you are an atheist, don't hide that fact. We are neighbors, coworkers and friends of the religious. Don't let them intimidate your thoughts, don't hide.

I wonder if the isolation is more self imposed than real. Is it easier than being on guard all the time? I have no longing for the company of idiots. That is the only thing to be gained by being an atheist in the closet. You get to socialize with people who think you are insane, how nice. You get to be part of a community that despises your thoughts.

Are the mundane parts of life those that should be chased? Are the inconsequential meanderings of the local village idiot something we should strive to attain? Are these atheist goals? Not.

I understand we are social animals and that for the most part, we need to interact with society. I'm just not sure if that need should undermine our ability to be honest with ourselves.

I will not pretend to live my life based on a moral code that only survives because of fear, simple as that.

I'd rather have isolation than foolishness.

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