Imagine life without stereotypes.
It’s pretty difficult when you actually think about it. Not just making it a pretty song and walk around with peace signs for hands, but critically thinking about what it would take–at this point in the world’s history–to be a human race of no stereotypes… and tolerance.
It’s kind of a ‘blow-your-effin-mind’ deal.
As another year draws to a close and I reflect on what I’ve learned this year, especially being open about my atheism and secular humanism on this blog, and it seems I’ve learned more about how hate invades life.*
And the “haters” can justify their hate in many ways…”I’m not a bigot because God says homosexuality is abominable,” or, “We can believe different things… but I still love you and I’ll still try to convert you,” or, “I love Jesus and hope all atheists die.”
Dealing with people who base their unalterable and life-shaping opinions on an un-verifiable, contradictory, and widely unread antique document, or who cultivate hate under the guise of “tradition” is tiresome.
I roll my eyes back into my head so often when conversing with these types of people that I’m worried my eyes will get stuck up there.
There are plenty of non-religious people who never seek to offend or challenge or even change the way this hate is still permeating in our world. Why do I bother?
I bother to challenge and attempt to change the trend (never seeking to offend, but often succeeding) because I want better for my kids. And from where I’m standing, even other people’s kids are assholes. Scientifically speaking,** no one is born an ignorant, prejudiced, bigoted asshole. Those are learned behaviors. More often than not, these behaviors are learned from parents. And if not learned from parents, then from peers, and perhaps parents aren’t correcting the behavior.
I understand that every single person will never like every other person they come into contact with. I’m not high. This isn’t Canada.
What is perplexing is why, in the year 2011, we continue to allow hate and prejudice to shape our laws, prevent gender equality, or to make children feel as if suicide is the only way to get out.
In the words of Susan Powter… “STOP THE INSANITY!”
In a small attempt to help the world stop being assholes for no rational or logical reason, I offer the following:
In my research, I ran across a great article by Amanda Marcot on AlterNet.org debunking myths about atheists. Education is key – that means meeting actual people and forming your own opinion instead of finding it in an antique book or looking for someone else’s interpretation of said antique book.
1) There are no atheists in foxholes.
Stop trying to use a time of pain, suffering or weakness to convert me. Sleazy marketing.
2) Atheists are just angry with God.
I can’t be angry at something that doesn’t exist. It’s like being angry at the genie that failed to pop out of my lamp and grant me wishes.
3) Atheists are aggressive and rude.
Last I checked, being honest about my atheism isn’t as rude as someone telling me I’m going to hell. For some reason, the fact that supernatural creatures don’t dictate my opinions and actions is offensive. I don’t walk around door to door proselytizing or commit others to eternal pain for not believing what I believe. People in general can be aggressive and rude. Critical thinking skills and grounding in reality does not an asshole make.
4) Atheism is a white dude thing.
According to my doctor, I am biologically female
Atheist blogger Jen McCreight grew so tired of this myth that she compiled an extensive list of prominent female atheists such as Susan Jacoby, Rebecca Watson and Lori Lipman Brown. Greta Christina followed up with a list of prominent atheists of color, such as Debbie Goddard, Ayaan Hirsi Ali and Hemant Mehta.
5) Atheism is just a faith like any other.
I always flinch in embarrassment for the believer who trots out, “Atheism is just another kind of faith,” because it’s a tacit admission that taking claims on faith is a silly thing to do. When you’ve succumbed to arguing that the opposition is just as misguided as you are, it’s time to take a step back and rethink your attitudes.
And, not to drag out this old chestnut, but Atheism is no more a faith than “not collecting stamps” is a hobby.
Faith in the untestable, improbable, and unprovable is quite a stretch from “faith” in facts, critical thought, and scientific methodology. Read a book.***
6) Atheists don’t have a moral code.
Believers, listen to me carefully when I say this: When you use this argument, you terrify atheists. What you are implying is that the only thing standing between you and, say, Ted Bundy, is a flimsy belief in a supernatural being made up by pre-literate people trying to figure out where the rain came from. This is not very reassuring in any scenario, but especially if you’re trying to argue from a position of moral superiority.
I’m moral because it’s the right thing to do. Not because of “reward,” or because of a fear of some cosmic retribution.
7) Atheist lives are bleak and lack meaning.
In fact, I spend my days enjoying this life, the people I love, and raising my children to be good people. Is there something I’m missing?
8.) Atheists are hedonists who don’t understand the true meaning of love.
If I had to live by the true definition of “God’s Love” I would let loved ones die even though they begged me not to. I would sacrifice my children’s lives for others (in situations that in no way warrant that behavior). I would kill those who did not follow my nonsensical and inexplicable rules. I would ask others to constantly prove their love by doing harmful things to others. I would collude with my enemies to make my loved ones’ lives miserable. In short, I’d be a jealous, petty, insecure tyrant with unchecked power and no obligation to my people.
I prefer the human definition of love. The one we hold everyone in the world to.
9) Atheists have no way to cope after losing loved ones without the belief in an afterlife.
Such arrogance. The religious don’t have a monopoly on humanity. Grief Beyond Belief is a great group for those of us dealing with loss without the supernatural default sayings.
10) Atheists are out to destroy Christmas.
I find this funny since Christianity used the Pagan’s Saturnalia to convert people. Read up. I would prefer if you didn’t let your faith-based hate to infect my government, though.
* Clarification: Basing your opinion on an individual person’s actions or words is different than forming an opinion of an individual based on a stereotype due to color, race, religion, sexuality…etc etc. Disliking someone for who they are and disliking someone for what they represent are two different subjects. I’m speaking to the bigoted “hate them for what they represent” segment.
** I am not a scientist. My use of the term “Scientifically speaking” is an attempt at sarcasm. I mention this because the people to whom this is most pointedly referencing will not recognize the difference between actual science, fake science, folklore, or a joke.
***Really. Any book. Even the Bible. ESPECIALLY the Bible, the whole thing by yourself. I dare you.