Enter The Fragile Ego – No Bubble!

Since when did we lose our ability to hold complex discussions without acting like children? No really. It’s near impossible to have a real conversation anymore. When did that happen? There has developed a barrage of rules about when certain topics are forbidden conversation:

  1. Don’t discuss sex or politics at dinner parties.
  2. Don’t discuss politics or religion at the bar.
  3. Don’t discuss diet at the dinner table.
  4. Never discuss personal matters at work.
  5. No sex or race or politics or religion on Facebook, please. (Cat pictures only!)

With all these rules, when can we ever really, seriously talk about anything at all?

It seems one cannot bring up thought provoking topics anymore without someone else becoming offended or throwing around accusations. Dare you state the obvious, and you are just being mean. Dare to infuse racial-sociological context, and you are being a troll. “You’re talking publicly about your disbelief in my god – that’s RELIGIOUS DISCRIMINATION!” “How dare you analyze my personal experiences in a political context you contentious bitch!” We’ve become so afraid of rocking the boat that even calling oneself a feminist has suddenly become controversial.

It’s hard to pin down from whence this fragile egotism originated. Is this a product of the white, fluffy cloud concept of political correctness? Are we so motivated by etiquette that we feel the need to censor face-to-face, written, scholarly and even web speech? Or is this inane treading on the shallow end of conversation pool manifest of a collective need not to pop our own comfortable bubbles of correctness?

The dumbing down rampant in our education system (along with a host of other problems) could be partially to blame. When education funding is razed, the first education programs to disappear with that funding tend to be the courses that facilitate independent scholarly reflection: literature, art, sociology or current events. When people do not get the well rounded education needed to autonomously think outside the box, how can we expect people to approach complex social or political issues in a constructive way?

Where do we land at the end of this tryst with superficiality? The result is a bedazzled populace more concerned with who Miley Cyrus is twerking on than whether extending unemployment benefits is beneficial to our economy. Such is a populace that also avoids discussing the influence of racism on our social-economic institutions, or how the exaltation of female virginity degrades and hurts women.

A culture of avoidance facilitates ignorance. Ignorance breeds isolation. Isolation breeds extremism. And goodness knows we’ve already too much of that. It’s high time to take off the rose glasses, pop the comfy bubble, and commence with the discourse of our lives.

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Thanksgiving Thanks

Thanksgiving is one of my favorite times of the year. There just isn’t much not to like about Thanksgiving. And there is so much around to remind a person of how good they’ve got it.

Hence, the month of November brings with it a gravy wave of people expressing thankfulness. Some people make a daily public expression. I know one guy who makes a daily hate list. Some folks wait for the turkey’s last gobble before airing their laundry list of things to be thankful about.

I’m so thankful for my family and friends, the food on the table, this free country we live in, and etcetera.

Whence originates the conundrum serving as muse to this shenanigan of a post – thankful to whom? Thankful to what? Thankful to a god that likely doesn’t exist?

Uh, I don’t think so.

It is against my better nature to deny thanks where thanks is due. So instead of regaling my readers and friends with a diatribe of ethereal gratefulness, I’ve chosen a more direct approach.

I’m thankful to my wonderful parents for working so hard to provide for my sisters and me.

I’m thankful to my little sister for remembering all of the ways that I tortured her and my other sister when we were little. (Those are some funny stories.)

I’m thankful to my littlest sister for always skyping or calling me long distance.

I am thankful to Appa for scratching my back and being my best friend.

I’m thankful to whomever invented beer. (VERY thankful!)

I’m thankful to the engineers, scientists and doctors who’ve made it their life’s work to heal disease and improve the quality of life on this planet.

I’m thankful to my cats for showing me what a good bed I am, rubbing that cold, wet nose on my hand, shedding crap loads of soft fur all over my black pants, catching vermin and being so damn entertaining.

And I’m thankful to Shweeb for consistently picking me up when I am feeling beat down.

To whom are you thankful?

Religion – It’s What’s For Dinner….. er, School Lunch In Pennsylvania?

Oops, they did it again.

Well, not yet. And I hope they will not do it again. Everyone’s favorite, zealous Christian Representative, Rep. Rick Saccone has introduced yet another bill in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives that blatantly disregards the Pennsylvania Constitution. His latest bill, House Bill 1728, would force every school in the commonwealth of Pennsylvania to display signage saying “In God We Trust” in classrooms and other areas in public school buildings

For the record, Rick Saccone is the same irreverent that successfully introduced legislation declaring 2012 the “Year of the Bible” in Pennsylvania. (I wish you could see my face every time I think of this.) And his newest Bill states outright that the bill is motivated by “The Great Christian Governor” James Pollock. You know I could not let this legislation stand without putting in my two cents.

Dear Representative X,

Last year, the Pennsylvania House of Representatives voted to name 2012 the year of the bible. As a non-believer, I doubt it within my ability to explain to you how disrespected and paltry that made me feel as a citizen of the Commonwealth.

Now, similarly flippant legislation has been introduced by the same person – Rep. Rick Saccone – to promote and display signs relaying Christian messages in our schools. I am shocked by House Bill 1728! I cannot believe that, contrary to the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, I and my children could once again be compelled to maintain such displays of religious nature. This bill is antithetical to everything that Section 3 of our Constitution stands for!

The Pennsylvania House of Representatives already spat all over Section 3 last year by establishing preference by law to an establishment of religion. I can only hope that you will not do it again. I urge you not to support House Bill 1728, and to vote against it if it should be put up for a vote.

What Atheists Are Missing

For a long time, I was so unsure of myself. I questioned whether I was good enough. I questioned whether what I wanted was the right thing to want. I questioned whether I was being selfish, whether I was being prideful. I felt if God wasn’t answering my prayers, it was my fault for being jealous, or hateful or secretive.

For a very long time, I thought I was doing it wrong. I wasn’t believing hard enough. I wasn’t singing hard enough. I wasn’t focusing all my energy on God. That’s why I had doubts. That’s why I looked around in church to emulate what others were feeling. That’s why I always went to the altar to recommit myself, to repent. That’s why when the preacher puts his big sweaty hand on my head, I fell down with the rest of them.

I remember the last time. I feinted a blessed swoon and lied still on the floor, only to realize I had lain there too long and was the last one to “wake.” It was the last time I sought what I now consider a very duplicitous act.

I remember loathing myself. I loathed my body. I loathed the body that wanted to be with boys. I hated that I thought all those nasty thoughts the teacher warned about in Sunday classes. I was jealous or other girls. I wanted to kiss boys, and more. I was a bad person. I would surely go to Hell.

I hated being a girl. I was dirty, filthy, unclean. My blood was a curse. And I brought sin onto others for not being clean or virtuous enough.

I was afraid I would burn in hell. That I would be ripped asunder over and over again for all of eternity because I wasn’t good or virtuous or obedient enough.

And now…

Now that I am an atheist, I am missing so many things. I am missing the doubt. I’m missing the sense of loneliness. I am missing the self-consciousness. I’m missing the pretense. I’m missing the self-disgust. I’m missing the self-loathing. I’m missing the fear.

I dropped the heavy burden of religion that I was holding onto for dear life and an eternity from hell.

And I don’t miss any of those things.

I am an atheist.

And I am free.

Yoga Lessons

I was rushing to yoga practice today. Since it was pretty full, I ended up next to a group of high school-aged girls. While we were holding poses, they were fidgeting around and falling and were all over the place. It was probably a combination of peer pressure, distraction, and lack of conditioning that caused the fidgeting.
It takes a lot of strength to do yoga. It’s a hard practice. And I laud them for getting out there and doing something good for their bodies. When most kids would be out doing drugs, watching TV, or playing video games on a Friday night, these girls were getting their asses kicked of their own free will.
Another plus is they forced me to focus in on myself. If I had focused on them, I’d have been all over the place too. I had to dig deep, breathe, and find my own little bubble of resilience. So tonight was a learning experience all around.
Maybe they learned a Black girl with an afro can be a kick ass yogi. And I learned that my mind and body, when they work as a unit, can overcome wiggly obstacles with just a modicum of resort. I consider it a win on both sides.

Merry Atheist Christmas

Happy Holidays to all my godless brothers and sisters. The next time someone chides you for not being Christian and celebrating Christmas “just because,” or tells you “Since you are not Christian, why are you celebrating Christmas? You can just skip it,” let that person know what the season is really all about. Or you can just explain to what the holidays mean to you.

People who don’t believe Christian dogma aren’t celebrating Christmas “just because.” We celebrate because we want to be included in our family traditions. We celebrate because we love to see our loved ones’ faces light up when they open up that mystery package. We celebrate because every day of our brief existence is worth celebrating. We are not pretending to be something we are not or usurping a ‘taken’ holiday “just because.” Atheists just want to celebrate life without all the nonsense.

And if we wish someone a Merry Christmas, it doesn’t mean we believe Jesus even existed. It just means we want that person to enjoy the holiday. Christmas means whatever we want it to mean.

Remember that.

Happy Holidays!

The REAL Reason for the Season

Take your Bah Humbug elsewhere!

Christmas is about longer days, iced cookies and family shindigs. End of story.

The real reason for the season.
The real reason for the season.

Oh, and that sciencey obliquity stuff too. Yeah.