Sunday, November 15, 2015

REGARDING FRANCE

Another day, another terrorist attack. Although only given lip service when it effects the Middle East, it's another story when it is in a Western Country. Already the hawks are out in force, already the talking heads are calling for the heads of all muslims; they are a threat to the world you know.
Even though millions of muslims are decrying the brutality and events in France, their voices will be muted. Terrorism by small groups, the whining and screaming of conservative christians; these are the voices we will hear for the coming weeks as sanity is thrown into the back of the bus. We know critical thinking, logic, and any other reasonable attempt at understanding, will be sanity's company as the god-botherers go ballistic.
Which is sadly funny, since god is also bothered constantly by the opposition. 
I've already started replying on the social threads concerning death to all muslims. I'm looking forward to the outcry because I've turned around the discussions to examples of christian terrorism. I am counting the minutes until the first "not a true scotsman" fallacy is unleashed. 
The joy of understanding religious humans is a sick joy.
Regardless, everyone that wishes to know about France and the attacks has already read and seen the story, so I'll let you decide on what you think about it. Maybe you'll even share those thoughts with the rest of us. The following is what I wrote a few days ago for the Sunday Planet discussion, interesting enough it seems to be even more relevant today than it was on Thursday. Religion will not be eliminated in our lifetimes, so how shall we deal with it?
AN AMERICAN ATHEIST
Being an atheist in America is a constant battle. It is not a war, war usually includes death, but it is still a battle for acceptance, a battle for community, a battle for reason. 
Not that I'm claiming that all atheists are reasonable, or have a need for community, or could give a shit less about what someone else thinks of them. Yet I would think for most of us, these desires, or possible needs, do go on a rampage obliterating the peace that usually dwells in our minds. I do not speak for others, but I'm sure I'm not alone; after all, humans we are.
Community is a need that we all share. We visits sites like AU, we chat with like-minded friends and family, and we seem to always be searching for more, for a larger community. We are a tribe, a clan, a family, and we want the support from those of our ilk. The reality is though, that we want to have a local community, not just an online community, as well. Some live in areas where atheism may not be the atrocity some would have us all think, and some live in areas where atheism is not just frowned upon, but where it is an evil that needs to be eliminated. How do we survive without becoming hermits? 
Living in a small conservative town like I do, it is difficult to establish community while openly being anathema. The way I find some community is by finding the minority of progressives in town; usually they are a little more accepting, especially since they are in the minority. Even with those though, I have to give a little.
As an example, one of my, and my wife's, favorite locals is a lovely lady entering middle age. She works at the local pub and her family has lived in this town for generations. We find her knowledge helpful in dealing with a small town's craziness. She's had a troubled life, drugs and alcohol and all kinds of raising hell, yet is one of the sweetest people we know. She's no longer living by a thread, she's cleaned up her act, she is doing what she needs for her family. Although liberal, and accepting of my family's lack of faith, she is god's friend. With the crazy in her mind - and one could say she traded one crazy for the other - she has to find something that my wife and I find meaning in that is spiritual; she just can't help herself. That is the way she has found peace, and although I don't respect the institution that gives her that peace, I do respect her and her fight to be the mother she needs to be. So I give a little when she questions. 
She asks if I believe in god, I say no. She asks if I'm spiritual in some way, I say no. Almost hopelessly she continues to question trying to find a bond in an area of life that is important to her, while I know what I think contradicts who she is. She finally comes up with "nature." Yes I say, I do find peace in nature. Not spiritual as she may think, but it's enough to form a bond. It is enough for her to feel we have some common ground. It is not a lie on my part, but not what she thinks I mean by finding peace in nature. 
Maybe that's wrong, but works for me.
Hey, I like people, forgive me or not. Isolation is not part of being human. I cannot allow myself to withdraw from the diversity that humans express in their personal lives. I think that by struggling to find a common denominator that can be used as a base to expand upon is the only route a human can take to live in peace. I would rather try to change minds, even if slightly, than to ignore my fellow humans. I mean, if my voice is unheard, there will never be any understanding. We continue down the road of intolerance.
I drink beer with the conservatives and am happy to give them as much shit as I take, after all, conservatives are not what the very vocal, whiny, conservative christian base is; it is extremely varied and I work on them as well. Do I believe in family values? Hell yeah, I just expand that to include everyone. Do I think hard work is a good thing, again yes, but still knowing that there some of us that are not capable of work. Life goes on, there are things that we can all relate to, and I work to find them.
Finding total acceptance is difficult. That's why I can be found at atheist/humanist meetings every so often. It is why I can be found lurking on the internet for atheist companionship. We all want to be accepted, though in different manners. We're not hermits, we cannot seal ourselves away from the world, we cannot live alone. This is why community is so important to us, and why we'll give a little, we will bend our thoughts a little, just to have that companionship.
Lets be clear about this, by no means are atheists inherently more reasonable than any other group you may find. When Bill Maher goes on a rant about the evils of vaccinations, I cringe. Here we have an atheist in the spotlight of the American public who shows time after time that reason is not his to be had in all things. I think we can easily ascertain that at least most of us are unreasonable at times, regardless of religious beliefs, or non-belief.
So where does that leave us? To some degree we want to be accepted, to some degree we need community, and to some degree we can be totally unreasonable. To me that speaks volumes. That says we are all human. That says we have to figure out how to not only get along, but to respect those who do humanity good regardless of what hides in the weird corners or their minds. 
This American Atheist is always sticking his head into the midst of possible trouble, I just can't help myself. There is meaning to life, the meaning we give to it, so what is yours? How do you take care of basic human needs, or do you not feel the desire for community? Are atheists different than theists in that we don't have that need for community and acceptance, or are we as human as the next guy? 
Do extremists control what we think of each other?

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