First, I wish everyone health, happiness, and peace in the New Year. Second, I would love to hear how you and your families are doing.
Things are good for my family and me. I’ve always been careful with what I write about my kids, recognizing that readers are not just fellow atheists, but also frenemies, acquaintances, and strangers. But my kids are out of high school now, so I don’t worry about a backlash or about some religious kook trying to convert them. They don’t face the same pressures that they once did attending public school in Texas. In fact, it seems as if atheism is much more acceptable now, although perhaps we just have a new enemy in Isis, so those who are atheists or non-religious are not a threat. I’d be curious to know if others are still having issues in the school or on the playground.
My kids are doing well. I keep my fingers crossed that both boys will continue on their respective paths and not get into trouble or derailed in any way. I try not to read the news and see all the terrible things that can happen – – or the world we will leave our children.
At work, I rarely hear talk about religion or church. Occasionally I hear my coworkers say they feel “blessed”, which, to me, simply means they are thankful or grateful. My neighbors don’t talk about their church or ask which one I attend. Faith seems to be waning.
I don’t feel as if my family or I missed out on anything by not having faith. Being an atheist brings a tremendous amount of freedom. I’m not worried if god approves. I decide what’s right and wrong. Yes, that’s subjective and elastic, but so are the morals of “god” and his believers.
I don’t care what others think of me, which is pretty damn liberating. How many people worry that they’ll say or do the wrong thing and someone—god or a friend–will judge or dislike them? Those are shackles we put on ourselves. If there’s one thing I learned from being atheist, it’s that it just doesn’t matter what others think. I don’t need approval – from anyone. And when I screw up, I can forgive myself.
There’s no sense of betrayal and there’s no reason to rage against the universe. There’s no god to play favorites, there’s no puppet master deciding who gets rescued and who doesn’t. Shit happens and that’s just all there is to it. When people are harmful, it’s up to us to deliver justice and hold others accountable. I work hard and try my best; sometimes things work out, sometimes they don’t.
On the other hand, as an atheist, I understand that there are certain obligations that come with being human and with the awareness that all we have is each other. I’m obligated to be courteous to my fellow man, even to those I don’t like. It doesn’t mean I must have relationships with those folks, but when I’m cruel or unkind, I only show who I am, not who they are. Being kind doesn’t mean that I approve of someone’s actions or that I like who they are, it only means I extend the civility of a sentient being.
These are the things I hoped I’ve passed onto my kids. As they grow older, I they’ll fold their parental influence into the people they become. I hope I will continue to see kids who are not afraid to live without god, who can define who they are and yet be good, content citizens of the world. I’m pretty sure the next few decades will bring new generations that have shed religion.