If only Baz Luhrmann directed my life.
Stephanie Irene. KC girl. Feisty. Feminist. Neurotic. Atheist. Passionate. CATS!
So this week, I had a lot of drama with my school’s aministration over my secular student alliance group and sort of just a lot of attacks on my lifestyle in general.
First: a recap. So last week in SSA we made simple posters for National Ask an Atheist Day. Tuesday we put them up around school, being sure to follow all the rules of where posters can and cannot be hung. Of course, teachers and students found the word atheist offensive and the posters were taken down and ruined, all before trying to communicate with me about it. And by the time I got home from school, after letting it sink in for a couple of hours, I was just unbelievably frustrated that everyone takes offense to my chosen lifestyle. I really do try to be a good person and make a good name for myself, I know I can’t speak for all atheists, but I feel most of them try to do the same. And I am pretty damn good at it I think. I am a devoted friend. I do charity work. I respect others. I try to be educated about politics. I work hard in school and know I will end up working my ass off eventually just so I can maybe become a doctor or maybe something else, but definitely someone who tries to better people’s lives. But I will always be defined in negative terms. And that has made me slightly more callus. I knew, after the battle I went through to get SSA at all, that maintaining the club would be difficult too, but I was still hoping the school would suprise me and be better than I expected. But they aren’t. And I am so tired of everyone being so ignorant and judgmental. And then accusing me of being defensive because sometimes I try to nip arguments in the bud because I don’t even think they’re worth having.
For example: The SSA shirts say “Morals without Mythology” on the back, and it is something that is very true of people who decide to define and live by morals not related to any sort of supernatural force. And I don’t, in any way, find it to be offensive. As a rational person, I read it as a positive message, “yay morals!” I don’t read it as, “oh, they think christianity is mythology and that they are better than us because they have morals and we don’t” And so yeah, when people try to give me shit about it at school, especially Nick, because he should know better, I am going to give you a defensive answer because I already know what you are thinking, and I know it could turn into a fight, and I don’t want it to, so I am going to try to cut it off. And for the record anyway, I wouldn’t have to be defensive if most of the people I know didn’t already give me a reason to feel the need for it.
Nick and Connor were just getting on my nerves today. I am tired of having to hold back my entire opinion because I can’t risk being considered ‘another abrasive atheist’ even though every time I talk to him Connor goes all holier than thou and shoves his faith down my throat and Nick flip flops on his religious views to pander to who he’s talking to. But still, I let them tell me that Atheists are “douchier” than Christians and continue to say the same ignorant things everyone else says, just in joke form to keep it light. As if I could ever get away with joking about their faith. I am so fucking tired of having to hold back because for some reason, your religion is exempt to all rules and criticisms, while you make every judgment on mine possible without ever really asking me what my beliefs are.
I just hate everyone right now. I am so tired of living in a country where I am automatically the least trusted person because I think something different than you. Why is it so offensive to you that I don’t share your belief? It doesn’t even have anything to do with anyone else. Why can religious people brush off questions and criticisms because “spirituality is personal” when I am expected to listen to all of your horseshit about the kind of person I am.
So even though the SSA thing worked itself out and we will still be happily celebrating Ask An Atheist day next week, the whole experience left me so unwilling to put myself in this position ever again. I just don’t even want to deal with people at my school. We can just keep doing our events and service on our own. And I’m not going to try to explain my beliefs to people anymore, because it’s none of their fucking business and they have their mind made up about it already.
I am designing posters for my high school Secular Student Alliance group, anyone have any ideas for something that must be featured on a poster to help explain the purpose of the club and entice new members?
Finally home from another ever-so-enlightening weekend with my fellow skeptics at REASONFest. I am so grateful to be able to attend conferences like this and Skepticon and to be able to participate in activities with KC Atheist Coalition. Starting, and now leading, my own SSA group has shown me the tip of the iceberg of the enormous undertaking the leaders of these national groups which facilitate and organize these meetings for the atheists, the agnostics, the humanists, the skeptics, whathaveyou. I have so many new thoughts to get out before the inspiration from the weekend fades.
First of all, I have such a new found appreciation for the importance of humanism. I have been identifying as a humanist for the last several years, but listening to Greg Epstein discuss how ‘not believing something is not enough’ reminded me that we are all humanists (or at least all the secularists I’ve met so far have been). As much as I don’t believe in God or feel the need to reconcile life’s phenomenon with supernatural explanations, it is just a given to me. The values that I constantly evaluate and the morals I strive to uphold are really the things that define what ‘I believe’. I believe in compassion above all. It is my basic belief in compassion for others that leads me to seek to improve others’ condition through the community service that is so important to me, and it is this same compassion that drives me to be a devoted friend and loved one. I want to offer to others whatever skills I have at my devices, be it listening, or understanding, or aid, etc.. I need to remember to uphold this mentality more effectively at times when it is quite tempting to be selfish or lazy. I value accountability, respect, scholarship, curiosity, planetary stewardship, passion, and always reason. It is important that I understand the consequences of my actions, and while I understand most religions have accountability based on the idea of salvation vs. damnation, but I struggle to respect a system in which followers can so easily repent for not following the rules of the gospel that they prescribe themselves to. Because I am able to make my own set of ‘rules’ to live by (in accordance with the law of course and accepted social norms to an extent as well), I take these values very seriously. I would develop terrible cognitive dissonance, for example, if I were to perpetuate slut-shaming, the virginity myth, or any other issue plaguing women that I am so blatantly against. I hold myself accountable to stick to my feminist convictions, as well as others. And I feel I am far more compelled to uphold the morals I created for myself because 1)They are my morals because they are important to me, not because some supreme being told me to care about them, and 2)I am intrinsically motivated to uphold these morals, not motivated by promise of salvation or beneficial rebirth or fear or damnation. I will forever have respect for those who strive for knowledge, and will forever strive for knowledge myself. I can’t think of a better way to improve than to continue educating myself. And how else am I supposed to rectify all of my curiosity? I need to seek out this reason, and I don’t find reasoning and rationality to be the cold, calculated solutions to issues that religion has solved through ‘love’. I think that reasoning encourages love, again in a beneficially motivated way.
When considering the idea of mortality, I am absolutely not afraid that I might be wrong and that I’ll go to hell. To put it lightly, if I am wrong, at least I’ll be in hell with my family and all the cool people I’ve met through KCAC, SSA, or the skeptic conferences I’ve attended. And on a more serious note, it is my very mortality that drives me to live to the fullest. I know so many devoutly religious people who don’t take risks or get all the experiences they want because they are waiting for heaven, for the greatest thing. My grandma is the prime example of this to me. She doesn’t even take adventures in what she eats, whereas I want to try as many new foods as possible, and savor and enjoy my food. I don’t have that much interest in ‘living on after I die’, through my works, my children, etc.. mostly because I believe I’ll be dead. And therefore not aware of whether or not I made an impact. Of course, I still want to be impactful, but for other people’s benefit, not mine.
And I also believe that religion might do more harm than good. Someone this weekend said ‘there is not a single good thing that religious people do in the name of god that secular people cannot do simply for goodness’ sake’ or something to that effect. I admire religious people who do good works, but I don’t credit that to religion. And many injustices, I think are the direct result of religion. And no, you cannot say the same of atheism. Even if you argue that Hitler was an atheist (which I find ridiculous), he was not massacring Jews in the name of atheism. People do however, commit atrocities in the name of god or because of the position that their religion has put them it. Forcing religious figures to be celibate for their church causes sexual molestation and harassment. It has been proven that repressed sexuality can lead to disturbed sexual thoughts and actions.
Sorry this is so scatterbrained.. And of course, it doesn’t even begin to fully explain all my views and beliefs.
So what do I believe in? GOOD (without god). Really, whether or not I believe in god is irrelevant. Ask me what I want to accomplish or what I think is important. Ask me where I find meaning or beauty. Ask me about my morals. None of it really has to do with whether or not I believe in one less god than you do.