11.24.2010 – Hey! Us Atheists Get to be Thankful Too, Ya Know?
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! 🙂