Saturday, January 26, 2013

Atheists in Foxholes

A common phrase used by some religious leaders to both put down atheist and forward their own agenda is, "there are no atheists in foxholes". The sentiment behind this line is that when someone's life is in danger, everyone will turn to "god". After all, many religious leaders dismiss atheists as nothing more than childish rebels, rebelling for the sake of rebelling. They do not acknowledge the fact that most atheists have well thought out reasons based on logic and evidence as to why they do not believe in religion. And if this were true, when faced with their mortality, these rebels would be likely to "return to 'god'" to save their lives. However, this is not the case and of this, I am living proof.

I will never forget the horrible pain of the car hitting me on the sidewalk this past September. The pain was so intense and so total that I remember clearly thinking, "OK this is it, I am dying" and excepting the fact that my life was over. I did not think about "god" or religion.

Well I did not die. I laid on the ground with my elbow shattered, bones sticking out of my arm and my foot twisted and facing the wrong way. When I was made aware that we were all struck by a car and that I did not know what happened to my parents, I panicked. I screamed and begged the EMTs and the good samartitans that had come over to help us to tell me what was going on with my parents. No one told me. When I was brought to the ER, I literally asked everyone I saw for information on my parents conditions, but no one would tell me.

I do not know exactly how long it was until I learned that my parents were in fact killed, but it seemed like a couple of hours. During those hours I cried and I begged for information. I never once thought about a "god". I never once prayed to "god" to ask for "its" help. 

I know many people will dismiss my lack of belief in any deity by saying I am just angry at god. But this is not the case because I am an atheist. I really, honestly do not believe that there is a god. How could I be angry at something that I do not think exists? How could I turn to such a thing for help in my time of need? I could no more turn to a unicorn, or a dragon, or a wizard in my time of need. If in my mind, I really thought that there was any chance of their being a god that could listen to my prayers and help, I assure you I would have prayed and prayed a lot. But the thought never occurred to me.

I am not writing this because I am trying to use the killing of my parents to "spread atheism". I really do not care what other people genuinely believe (unless their beliefs come to hurt me or others). However, after hearing over and over again that "there are no atheists in foxholes", I wanted to show that this is not true. This also shows that my atheism is not just a rebellion based on "anger". I have been accused of being an atheist because I am angry about being gay (which I am not). And since the accident, I was told that I am an atheist just because I am angry at "god" for killing my parents. But "god" did not kill my parents so I cannot be angry at "it".

Even further, while many believers believe that it is in the "foxholes of life" that people will turn to "god", to me, the "foxholes of life" reconfirm that there is no loving, protecting god. I do not think that a loving protecting god would allow for war and genocide. I do not think that a loving and protecting god would have allowed my parents to be killed because some irresponsible moron decided to be a total idiot and drive with a big wild dog, loose in the front seat. When I see everything that can go wrong with the world, why would that lead me, or anyone to think that there is an omnipotent, omnipresent, omniscient god?

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Public Displays of Love and Violence

I was having a semi-political discussion with a very conservative relative this past Friday night. We were trying very hard to state our opinions without offending one another. For my part, I was trying to steer the conversation towards the topic of gay rights because I am curious about how my relatives feel about the subject. While I know that most of my relatives have always been anti-gay marriage, anti-gay pride, etc, I often hope that my coming out might have changed that. I would like to think that my family would like to see me happy and therefore might have rethought some of their opinions on these subjects. Usually this has not happened. I do not take it personally because I know that my relatives believe what they do, and in spite of their beliefs have not cut me out of their lives for which I am grateful.

During our brief debate, my relative said, "people should be able to do whatever they want, they just shouldn't be able to shove it in my face". What I took this to at first was that LGBTQ people can do what they want, just don't hold hands/kiss/hug in public. However, I realized that my cousin was not just talking about LGBTQ people. He would prefer it if no one showed any signs of physical affection in public. He is not the first person I ever met that finds public displays of affection (PDA) uncomfortable, so I just dropped the subject.

The next day we were discussing movies. My cousin said that he highly recommends the new Quentin Tarantino movie, Django Unchained. I said that I do not like most Tarantino movies because I do not like gore for the sake of gore in movies. My cousin could not disagree more. He told me that he loves great action movies and that violence does not bother him. And just like my cousin, millions, upon millions love to go watch action movies full of gore and violence. I myself like a good action movie, or war movie if I think it is made well and has a good story. And just like my cousin, society at large has less of a problem with violence than they do with PDA. And when I thought about it like that, I became quite annoyed.

If a movie has a a scene where a bunch of people are shot, or blown up, it will get a PG-13 rating (meaning the movie is suited for 13 year old teens and up). If a movie has a minimal about of sexuality in it, it will be given a rating of R (meaning the movie is suited for 17 year old people and up). Why is it that violence and killing is less offensive to children and the public at large than love and sex? Why is is that America has a culture that guns are passed down from father to son, but many parents cannot accept that their teenagers and young adult children might be sexually active? Why is it that graphic slasher movies are main stream, but pornography is considered one of the most offensive things in society? Why is violence glorified and sex and love are shunned?

This is of course not a problem only in America. Most religions around the world are more lenient and accepting of violence than they are of sex and love. Judaism, Christianity and Islam have harsh regulations on sexuality and love, but all have many allowances for violence. The Torah (the Old Testament) for its part has allowances for war, genocide and slavery, but two men having sex is not tolerated. Islam stifles any sense of female sexuality and love (let alone homosexual sexuality and love), yet glories Muhammad's conquest's and massacres. These 3 religions that sadly lay at the base of much of the world's moral guidelines are quite twisted and have lead to twisted world views. We have to ask ourselves if we really want to live in a society that is more offended by two people kissing in public, or by a gay pride parade than by a man holding an M-16 assault rifle. If the answer is no, the next question is, how do we start changing society to one the glorifies love and admonishes violence. 

If the picture on the left offends you more than the picture on the right,
you might want to rethink your priorities.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

You Never Know

First let me start by apologizing to my readers for not updating my blog in a bit over a month. The truth is that I was simply not inspired enough to write anything. In spite of the fact that my life was calming down and I had been surrounded by caring friends and family, my life had become very mundane and uneventful. I spend my time staying by friends and going to physical and occupational therapy, with the occasional fun get together with friends. As I said, this left me uninspired. However, this weekend, that changed.

A few months back, when I was still in the rehab center, I was on one of the gay Facebook groups of which I am a member. One of the members of the group shared a video clip of them dancing. Me and another friend in the group both watched the video. I told my friend that I thought this guy dancing (who's name is David) was really great looking and he told me that I should try and talk to him. My first thought was that there was no way that this guy would give me the time of day.He was out of my league and wouldn't want to be bothered by someone like myself. My friend told me not assume anything about people and to try and strike up a conversation. So I did.

Me and David became pretty good friends. In fact he saved me from many of the loneliest nights in the rehab center by chatting or Skyping with me. He was not mean and did not treat me like I was beneath him in any way. And over the last few months we have stayed in touch.
Me and David

In person, David was just as nice and we had a wonderful time together. In fact, the weekend that I spent with him was easily the happiest I have been since before the accident. And not only was hanging out with David so great, his parents were extremely nice and friendly people who  warmly welcomed me into their home.
Me, David and his parents

To think that all of this might never had happened, had I followed my initial instinct and not messaged David in that Facebook group. I would have missed out on having a great friend and the wonderful trip up north. While the tragedies of the accident has taught me that you never know what horrible things can happen, my friendship with David has reminded me that you never know what wonderful things might happen. And while over the last few months, the fear of suddenly dying or being injured was the driving force in my life to go find happiness as quickly as possible (before it is too late), I am now inspired to go forward, excitingly waiting to see what other wonderful things might be coming my way.