I would say I first realized I was Atheist at the age of 7, but I was jumping around Christian denominations, and Buddhism, until I was 21. I’m 22 now.
Being an Atheist is difficult. We’re pushed to the outskirts of an excessively religious society hoping someone will acknowledge our existence, beliefs, and credibility. Some do, and for that we will be forever grateful, but many, particularly in the southern area of the United States, do not.
I am apart of a minority that isn’t ostracized overtly (not often at least). It is a quieter discrimination. Like a parasitic fungal infection, you feel the judgments microscopically. The hyphae of others’ beliefs interwoven into our skin, infecting, and feasting on our organic bodies. I scratch and scratch to rid myself of these judgments only to become inflamed with humiliation.
Many religious people are well meaning. Their hands reached out in sisterhood -or brotherhood-, acutely attuned to the vulnerable hearts. I’ve learned this is the tactic the religiously involved take full advantage of. The shedding of a tear sends them into savior mode. The gospel is shared, hands are pressed in prayer, and then they move on when they realize their fair weather attempts pushed us further away. They interpret this as resistance to the inevitable, a denial that will be reckoned with at the end of life, or something we will rue so deeply and irrevocably we will stretch out our arms in their churches and cry, “you were always right, forgive me!” I push away because they send me a slew of platitudes. “Everything happens for a reason,” or my personal favorite, “god gave you a sister with special needs to teach you patience.”
Apparently God uses other human beings as pawns to teach other people virtuous behavior, according to some. I push away, because where their mind is consumed of where they go when they die, I am focused on how to make the only opportunity of existence I have as fulfilling as possible. I push away because I see religion absolving selfishness. I don’t see humans helping because it’s the human thing to do, I see them helping for a ticket into heaven. Why be apart of that?
Atheism is not a cauldron bubbling with noxious fumes. It is not the temptation of freedom from a spiritual law. It is the simple fact that Atheists cannot will themselves to believe, and this is where the religious disagree. They claim we aren’t trying hard enough, or we are angry. They say these things with blind confidence as if Atheists haven’t found themselves hunched over divine doctrine in the middle of the night trying to understand why people keep saying they hear music of the supernatural, but we hear nothing. Most Atheists I meet know just as much as the religious do, if not more.
I believe the most difficult aspect of Atheism is the false preachings of endless “blessings” with religion. The religious in America, as in many countries, are the good. It is not uncommon to hear someone say, “it’s the Christian thing to do,” when referring to a good deed. I am disappointed the society I live in believes goodness comes with qualifiers. Maybe I would be content in my own world if the religious would stop saying my life is unfulfilled, that I am missing something, that I have no ultimate morality. What have my convictions done to leave me unfulfilled and have no morality, exactly? The missing opportunity to pick out the ones who don’t go to heaven because they didn’t believe in a giant spirit in the sky, and say, “at least that’s not me?” Is it the ability to commit heinous crimes, ruin people’s lives, and lift my chin to the ceiling with tears of self-pity and guilt and ask for forgiveness, with the knowledge I will be absolved of my wrongdoings because God is merciful (funny, he’ll forgive a serial killer, but not the Atheist)? Is it the ability to feel superior somehow compared to other animate beings that I live along side? Is it the knowledge to boast of historical victories, conquering indigenous tribes of people just because the religious want the world to mirror their image of their interpretation of the perfect human being?
I refuse to accept those injustices, and I never have. I may be apart of a quiet minority, but it’s because people have begun to listen. Our perspective has penetrated the world, and the religious are afraid of someone who doesn’t need religious law to guide them. Being an Atheist is hard, but at least we carry full responsibility of our actions, we love people because every human deserves love, and we will never point a finger at someone saying they don’t deserve something because they are different.
Love whoever is around to be loved. Love when people don’t love back. Love unconditionally.
See more from Summer Janacek’s writing here.
This is the first of the INSIGHT guest posts, which will provide a glimpse into the lives of atheists around the world and an opportunity to connect with bloggers of a similar nature.
Follow for more and thank you Summer for the perspective!