We are, once again, coming up on the holiday season. The first of these holidays is one of my favorites, Thanksgiving! I mean, what’s not to like? TONS of great food, family gatherings, and football. Not too shabby of a day if you ask me.
Obviously, though, there’s a more meaningful reason for recognizing this holiday. It’s an opportunity to give thanks. As an atheist, I’ve found the comments of some believers in the past few years to be a bit on the insulting side. The one that stands out the most is this gem “The worst moment for the atheist is when he is really thankful and has nobody to thank”. The mother of one of my friends posted this as her Facebook status last year right before thanksgiving. I thought for a while before commenting on this. I was going to just let it go, like I do most everything else, but I felt compelled to respond and did so with this “There are lots of people I can thank” (fairly low-key and non-offensive if you ask me). Not too long after that, my comment was deleted (I mean after all…it WAS an awfully heinous response obviously), and then I was blocked. It’s a shame that we can’t ‘all just get along’, but the reality is that in her view there isn’t necessarily a problem what an atheist has to say, it’s that atheists exist at all.
My problem isn’t with this persons personal view, but that I believe that is the view of a lot of believers when it comes to atheism and this holiday in particular. The reality is, religious folks do not hold a monopoly on Thanksgiving and I have just as much right to celebrate this day as they do. In particular, because as I said, I DO have a lot to be thankful for. And I can be thankful directly to those other human beings rather than directing thanks to an intermediary god. Obviously the implication is that god is the ONLY entity that people can give thanks to. Maybe if people were more OPENLY grateful to the people around them directly, a lot of this petty squabbling would go away. The reality is that god is NOT a prerequisite for gratuity.
I’ve gone into my lists of things I’m thankful for many times before, but briefly here’s a few. I’m thankful for a loving family who supports me unconditionally. I’m thankful to be among the minority of atheists who haven’t been disowned or alienated by their families for going public with my unbelief. I’m thankful that throughout these incredibly tough economics times, I’ve been able to maintain employment and provide a comfortable life for my family. So for that, I’m thankful to my employer. I’m thankful to my wife for her constant love and support. I’m thankful to my daughter for being the amazing, funny, beautiful kid that she is. I’m thankful to the free-thinking, atheist, and agnostic community for welcoming me in and letting me know that I’m not alone out here in my beliefs (or lack thereof as the case may be). I’m thankful to our government and forefathers for the privilege and right of free speech, so I can speak my mind like this without fear of punishment or repercussion. I’m thankful to science and scientists for all the amazing things that they’ve done to make our world a more comfortable, exciting, amazing place.
I think you get the point.
Happy Thanksgiving! 🙂
FYI…Not my usual type of blog!
As my family, and any reader of this blog knows, last February I had a horrible ice skating accident. I broke my left humerus in half and spent 3 days in the hospital for surgery to put it back together. The following several months were filled with pain, adjustment, therapy, healing, and mental mending.
I love skating and I love hockey. It’s one of the few things that has actually stuck with me from childhood. So, now, I find myself at a crossroads. I want, desperately to skate and play hockey again. But to be completely honest, I’m terrified. Anytime I imagine stepping back onto the ice I have a mild panic attack. I think there’s several reasons beyond the obvious for my apprehension.
1) The obvious: I’m scared to death of injuring myself again. If my injury would have been the result of playing hockey or skating hard and wiping out, I don’t think I would be having the reservations that I am. But the reality is, I wasn’t really doing much when I fell. My daughter and I were about to finish skating for the day when we saw that the Zamboni was coming out to clean the ice, and we figured that we’d hang around for a couple of quick laps on the fresh sheet. Well, I didn’t even make it half way around. I went to move from going forward to backward (something I do all the time), caught the outside edge of my right skate and it flipped me through the air. I landed with all my weigh on my left arm with it somewhat behind me and the rest is history. So, the simplicity of what I was doing makes me worry about how easy it would be for me to repeat something like that and have another major injury.
2) A few weeks after my injury I came to find out about the long-term effects of using PPIs (Proton Pump Inhibitors). I’ve been taking products like Prilosec (and nexium, aciphex, etc) for 8 or 9 years now for acid reflux. They work like a charm and if I miss a dose the heartburn comes back within hours. However, I’ve found out that long-term use can cause bone density to drop. Is that why I broke my arm? I don’t know. I tried to ask my surgeon about this on my last visit, and he acknowledged that there are those issues, but I didn’t get anything clear from him about my own personal bone density. I don’t even know if he’d be able to tell. I probably would need a bone density scan to know for sure. All this being said, my wife tells me all the time that it was just a freak accident, but I still have this in the back of my head and I worry that something else will break for even a lesser impact.
3) Money! Yay healthcare. That little accident cost us about 3 grand! Obviously, I would hate to have to go through all of that again.
4) Probably the dumbest reason for second guessing getting back on the ice – Am I too old? I’m only 38, but have I already lost a bit of the coordination necessary to do this without injuring myself again? Do I have to accept the fact that this has passed me by and find some other athletic activity that’s lower impact to keep me entertained? Like I said, it’s a pretty stupid reason, but it’s there nonetheless.
One major reason in support of me getting back on the ice is my daughter. She was there when I broke my arm. She was probably more scared than I was. I think she was the reason I avoided going into shock – I was more concerned about her staying calm and not being scared than the injury itself. More importantly, though, I don’t want HER to be afraid to skate again or do anything else for that matter. She’s a horseback rider and we’ve always told her how important it is for her to ‘get back on the horse’ if she should fall off or have something scary happen. How can I not do that myself? I feel like I should be an example to her and find a way to get past my fears and ‘get back on the horse’ myself.
Sitting down and actually writing this out, I think, will be a help to me in pushing myself to get back to it. I need to address these issues in my head, and hopefully move past them.
Today I choose. And while I believe that all politicians inevitably kowtow to the money that got them where they are, I choose what, in my mind, is the lesser of two (or more) evils. I would much rather use my valuable vote on the folks that I think are actually qualified for the jobs they desire, and those who I believe are actually interested in the service of the public. However, I know that if I were to use my vote on those folks my vote would be wasted. It would not to any damage to the greater of the two (or more) evils that are most likely to win. The folks I speak of do not bow down to the highest bidder, and therefore don’t have a voice in today’s political world. They are the independents, the moderates, those not affiliated with either of the two major parties. The majority of the general populous does not do the hard work to dig and find what these people are all about. The majority grasps in their mouths the loaded spoon that they are offered and swallows. They willfully accept the status quo, while at the same time complaining about the woes of our society and the damaged system that they so eagerly participate in. While I hate politics in general, I hate apathy and hypocrisy even more.
So, today I choose. I choose with reluctance and reservation, but I choose nonetheless.
I’m tired. I’m just so bloody tired.
I’m tired of all the noise. I’m tired of delusion. I’m tired of conficting thoughts in my own mind. Sometimes I feel like it might be easier to just admit defeat and follow the religious crowd that most of my family and friends are a part of. Because, sometimes it’s tiring to be considered the ‘outcast’. The black sheep. It becomes exhausting, depressing, and disappointing to be the loner. But do I really have a choice? Could I even force myself to return to a worldview that every molecule of my being tells me is false? That’s not to say that everything I believe is the absolute truth (I’m not that arrogant). Absolute truth is hard (maybe impossible) to prove. However, it’s not nearly as hard to know that something is wrong. When the preaching of that something so completely goes against all reason and logic, it’s safe to assume that it’s not reality. But yet, each and every day I’m presented with so many ideas, comments, and retorts from the religious folks around me that it just starts to beat me down. And today is one of those days when it seems to have piled up and done just that.
I don’t know what to think today. There’s very little clarity of thought in my mind (which means this is probably not a good time to write, but oh well).
I’m searching for the ‘off’ switch…but it doesn’t seem to exist. Here’s to hoping that tomorrow is a better day.