Thursday, July 22, 2010

I'm Not an Atheist, but Atheists Seem Like Good People

Some of my staunchest supporters in the wake of the Conservative Freak Thrashing I recently received are atheists. 

This surprised me because I am not an atheist, though I don't go to church since some priest intoned that all of us Dems were going to Hell because of the smshortion issue. I stood up and walked out, and many other people around me did the same.

Still, now that I think about it, I shouldn't be surprised. Who else but the bold, insightful atheists (they might prefer the term "humanist") would be most likely to speak out against religious intolerance? 

What happened to me (see June postings on this blog) occurred at a Catholic school. I was raised Catholic, though I now disagree with several key aspects of the religion, mostly how women are viewed and disrespected because they are not allowed to be ordained.

I am not anti-Catholic, though; I still think it's a decent, mostly good, religion. Every institution has, I am sure, its prickly types, and just because those folks are loud and obnoxious doesn't mean that the rest of us will continue to put up with their intolerance and archaic views....then again, the history of the RCC is a bit harsh, isn't it?

Never mind; I'll become Episcopal, I think. Or wait, I always wanted to be Quaker...I am joking about changing teams. Why bother, since I will only continue to think for myself in all areas? I quite like Buddhism, though, and the inherent morality it contains despite the "there is no God" aspect of the philosophy. Whether there is a God or isn't (I do feel sure there is a force of some kind, a loving force that beckons us to open our eyes and not be ignorant), people should still be kind to one another and treat the planet well, and this is what Buddhism espouses.

The Catholic school at which I worked (and I never applied to work there, either; I was specifically asked to teach there, which I always considered a small miracle, seeing as it came out of the blue) did not fire me because of any religious ideals, or any issues-based stance, but rather, because the new administration was concerned about losing donor and tuition money--and not a lot, either; this was money from one family.

From what I understand, however, they just lost so many students for this upcoming year that they are now financially hurting. This is very bad. I hope the school as I knew it survives because--at least before this storm of nastiness happened, and was allowed to happen and keep happening (I'm not sure which is worse)--it was a wonderful, accepting, loving place.

Running schools like businesses is another problem in terms of what I, as an educator, expect for my own kids and students, and it certainly distracts from the idealistic hopes I have for personal learning. The school I used to know was far less a business, far more a bastion of warmth.

Back to my point, however: atheists wrote in support of me and my teaching of critical thinking skills on   different blogs, such as "Friendly Atheist." (There are more; if you Google my name and teacher, you will find them, I think.)

See http://friendlyatheist.com/2010/06/10/more-teachers-in-trouble

The main issue that atheists/humanists were focusing on is the idiocy of some religions, of course, but general ideas about intolerance and the self-imposed serfdom that all employees implicitly agree to in capitalist societies also came up.

These are very important issues. Why have so many people just blindly accepted that their employers can control their lives, especially their lives outside of work? Why don't people speak up more about the fact that by not protesting when other people are attacked/fired for the most minor and unintentional errors, we are letting ourselves (all of us!) be enslaved to bureaucracy, corporate greed, and the interests of money?

Caring more about businesses and money than people is the precise problem I have with Conservatism; this is why I am a Democrat.

In the name of capitalism and so-called progress, people have been readily agreeing to their own repression. That's actually horrifying, and if we don't--all of us, whatever our religious or non-religious beliefs--assert ourselves, collectively and individually, it's just going to get worse.

More people will be attacked and fired for increasingly absurd and innocent things, such as being seen having a glass of wine in a restaurant or other, exceedingly minor "indiscretions."

If you agree that teachers can't have lives out of school, or any personally-held opinions, and that they should never, ever share those opinions, then you're already lost. You are, as PZ Myers wrote, part of the problem. You are just perpetuating the stupidity and senselessness, and you are not helping to "protect" students in any way.

Stand up for yourselves, everyone. I always have. And yes, self-assertion can lead to problems...but the alternative (virtual enslavement, brainwashing) is, I think, far worse.

See the blog below to get more important humanist ideas. And thank you, atheists. You strike me as much kinder and more thoughtful people than many of the intolerant, nasty religious types I've met.

9 comments:

  1. Recently read this essay and loved it. http://thisibelieve.org/essay/34/
    That is all I have to say about the subject for the time being.

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  2. I love the idea about being open to being pleasantly surprised. What I hate about most religion is the being-mean-to-those-who-don't-share-your-precise-beliefs. That's just crazy. I hate Calvinism, in particular (the intolerant Puritans) because they were so humorless and cruel and overly concerned with keeping each other in line. I would hope that we had moved way beyond that now, in America, but apparently not.

    Thanks, IF.

    Best,

    EC

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  3. All the bad stuff in the world such as wars, torture, terrorism, happens because of religion, ever notice that? Just goes to show, probably, that religion is ironic, and at cross-purposes with itself.

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  4. Here's some morality from one particular atheist.

    We all have one life with a max length of about 100 years (more or a lot less). After that, there's nothing. Without the promise of something better after death, I try to make sure that I treat people as well as I possibly can, and make the world a little bit better for everyone. You only get one shot, so make it count, and help others do the same.

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  5. Sad but true. Dogma does lead to intolerance.

    Thanks for reading.

    Best,

    EC

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  6. Hi Jim,

    "You only get one shot..." well, I personally believe in reincarnation and the life of the spirit, but since we don't remember our past lives (most of us), we might as well only be living once, and I do agree about "making it count."

    It is very interesting, and apparent, that morality and being a good person doesn't need to be tied to some fear of eternal damnation.

    Thanks for reading.

    Best,

    EC

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  7. I understand that there are only 30 girls coming into the 6th grade this year...where there are normally 40-45 girls enrolled. So, you are correct.

    It's so sad, in speaking with another parent, there are many who believe that the school has become nothing more than a business and that the "family, warm environment" has all but disappeared since VH and DD came on board. Sister Mary Anne was a wonderful, pure woman who acted as a mother to all of the girls as well as the parents...that has been lost and a tremendous hole left after she was pushed aside by the financial types.

    The school will never be the same until the negative, uncaring forces are dismissed! They are a cancer on the school and should be abolished. Money was never the #1 for the school before; that's what made it such a wonderful place that attracted people from all walks of life. It has lost its way....so sad....sickening really. There will be more people speaking out and/or withdrawing their girls in the next year...that is the only way to send a message to rid the place of the uncaring administration!

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  8. I heard somewhere that the school might be down about 35 students in total from what it had or expected. That's quite a lot. I believe normal attrition is usually less than 10, with replacements.

    I don't know if that number is correct, but obviously, there is going to be a profound effect on budgets, which impacts everyone. I hope they can raise the hundreds of thousands needed to make up the shortfall...

    It seems that the Board decided to bring on the new guard, so the Board needs to also decide to change the guard again. I keep having weird dreams about the place; I don't know what that means.

    At any rate, I think it was the weak economy--not outrage about what happened to me, though in a twisted sense, that would be sort of nice, though I wouldn't even want it, actually--that led to the low numbers this year.

    Thanks for your kind words about this posting.

    Best,

    EC

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  9. I just wrote a long response to the comment I assume you are referring to (by an Alex?). It got lost in the ether...but I sincerely hope that is not the comment you meant (I see an entire page of comments when I click the link). That comment infuriated me; it is a far too rash and harsh misjudgment of this complex situation. It does not account at all for the fact that I never intended to expose anyone, never intended any harm and also, I am a writer, and my life is my primary story. I cannot be verboten to write about the people I meet, esp when I don't use names. That is absurd. People are way too touchy. Everyone knows I write about what happens to me, though I had never written about a student before, and didn't even intend to do so.

    There is a saying in memoir workshop classes: "If you didn't want to me write about you, you shouldn't have said that..." That's what it boils down to, I think. We don't own much but our own stories and what we experience. We have the personal freedom to write about life the way we've lived it.

    ReplyDelete