I remember reluctantly stepping out of faith into atheism feeling as if everything I cared about had been erased against my will. My community support structure was gone; my family now felt like strangers; and I had no direction in life or understanding of my place in the world. Who was I? Weren’t all atheists lone wolves without a pack? Was I going to be alone and floundering forever? I picture myself back then as a child standing alone in a dark, empty room with no Exit sign or clues about how to find my way back to safety. I felt lost in so many ways.
And yet I still knew I’d made the right decision following the truth where I saw it. So I lived in discomfort for a long time, and sought out all of you. Twitter, GG.com, and a local Meetup.com group pretty much saved my bacon. I searched for community anywhere I could find it outside of a ritual setting.
So thank you, friends. Thank you for reaching me and showing me I could still know friendship, connection, and common values even without a guide or set of rules. Thank you in those little ways you showed me I was okay in the closet and out of it. Thank you for showing examples of what it means to be confident and skeptical, kind and daring, driven and open to change. Because of the examples of others, I discovered I wasn’t alone in that dark room. I had people all around me. I just needed someone to turn on the light and show me what was available to me in this new life. Because of the examples of others, I now have a real community online and off, I am out of the closet everywhere in my life, and I’ve tried in my little ways to show others it’s okay. You’re not alone.
Thank you, Atheism, for:
Causing me to realize my ethics need to come from my own truth, and not from someone’s interpretation of a book or prophetic message.
Challenging me when I was comfortable and complacent in my thoughts and beliefs.
Propelling me into years of self-reflection and change. Nothing showed me I would be okay after asking myself the scary questions like my transition to atheism from faith.
Opening up an entirely new community of friends, online and off.
Giving me the space to make my own choices without worrying about being shunned from a rule-based community, eternal consequences, and punishment.
Showing me I can be bold about who I am in public because I’m just as “okay” and worthy of respect and understanding as anyone else.
Being another example of a label that can shelter bigoted, cruel, abusive, and closed-minded people behind an assumption of “rightness”. I realized that changing labels doesn’t free me from having to confront the same failings of humanity as are found within other social groups. This fact inspires me to focus more on the people and their actions more than the simplistic fact that they don’t believe in a deity.
Helping me find other issues I care about more than religion. As you know, reader, I don’t blog anymore. I don’t get very angry about religion anymore. I don’t consider myself an outlier in society.And there are other causes I care about more than arguing theology. I met social justice warriors I admire through the skeptic and atheist communities. I changed my tune on some social issues through the influence of these bold few who educate and call-out/call-in those who perpetuate socially destructive ideas and all those *isms I didn’t realize had to do with me after all.
Love is the influence of action, the strings that pull the marionette. Each energetic tug of the puppeteer tosses us into one another, playfully jostled into action until we are so wrapped up in each other’s love, that nothing but blades can separate the knots.
I love that somewhere out there in the world lives a person who uses precious minutes of their day to comment on reviews of Snow White and the Huntsman like this:
THANK YOU TO THE USA. ANY EVIL IS SIN. CHRISTIANS ARE NOT FUNDED AND THE END OF WORLD ALMOST HAPPEND. God will not support sin films. Earrings -source levitucus peirce. Non hip habitchual boring. Lord jesus was coolest. great food, ideas hobbies,. Get it. A new genetic a new perosn Amen Say no to abortion! We need to have evidence of violtaions. Sometimes Never happens cause of bullys,gangs! Rev 12:9 kjvz.1corinth 14;26 kjvz Gal 3:3 kjvz coolest. Rom 12:2 kjvz. When creating co you need bodygurads!! Well let you go. High heels take away strenght and cause crook back. Look for non fraud stuff. USA has satanist cult here. Kingsnake chain by god. What is evil what is of Lord.
GREAT JESUS1 ANY T
June 07, 2012