Sunday, October 31, 2010

Slow But Steady (AKA It Takes a Tortoise)

They say that slow and steady wins the race, referencing the Tortoise and the Hare fairy tale. So that's where we're at right now. I've gotten a surprising amount of positive feedback about the concept of spreading the 'good word' of atheists, but no one has given any indication yet that they will join with me and distribute these cards in their area. It's ok, I do understand. It's a risky thing to do. Being recognized as an atheist is a dangerous thing in some parts of the country, I know from personal experience the amount of ostracizing that can occur when people hear the 'a' word. Those looks, the obvious distance kept between you and them (as if it's catching...wouldn't THAT be a nice problem to have!)...just the general disdain and freakish curiosity of our 'kind' that is held by the mainstream default religious folk. I'm aware.

But that is WHY I want you to all do this with me! Go ahead, buy some cheap business cards and print these out. Then, totally anonymously, donate a box of non-perishables to your local food bank, with a card attached and a short sentence on the back stating, anonymously if you'd like, that you are happy to share what you have with them. See? It's that easy!

I'm working on getting pictures of our Random Acts of Atheism posted on this blog, so you can all see what we're doing to promote the cause. I've given out quite a few cards, all anonymously, and I haven't been chased down even once.

So come on, take a chance...get the word out by doing good without gods!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Step Two: Acting Out

I'm sure you can picture this scenario, we've all been there. The one time we're grabbing two things at the store and hitting the checkout lane, the person in front of us starts unloading ten tons of groceries, starts sorting a wad of coupons, a calculator and a slide rule, and pulls up a chair because they know they're going to be at least an hour. Then it happens...they look and notice that you only have milk and a box of cereal. They smile kindly and say..."Go ahead, I can wait."

Or you're finally enjoying a date night without the kids, you are enjoying a relaxing dinner with your partner. The manager goes table to table because a kind patron has brought it to their attention someone left the lights on in their car.

What about helping a stranded motorist with a tire change, plugging a parking meter that's about to expire, paying for the person behind you at the coffee shop/movie theater/drive through, tip 50% of the bill at a restaurant, donate a box of non-perishables to a food pantry, get the idea. After all, most of us probably do things similar to this regularly. The difference is that now, I'd like you to take a brief moment AFTER you do these kind things, and hand them a card before you go on with your day.

Why AFTER you do these kind things? Simple. Because we aren't doing these things to convert people to atheism, evangelize our beliefs, or to create opportunities to discuss our differences. The goal is to maintain anonymity, so as to encourage the association of this being an altruistic and casual event that is not contingent upon philosophical agreement, acknowledgement, or reward. We are simply allowing ourselves to be seen by our actions first, and then plant a seed of awareness for others to alter their mis-perceptions of atheists around them. The first mis-perception is that there are very few atheists to begin with, and the second being that atheists are evil, selfish, subhuman cretins. By raising awareness of our existence to others, and prefacing this awareness with acts of kindness, we are taking small steps towards bridging the gap of intolerance and prejudice against non-religious populations that identify themselves as atheist, humanist, secularist, agnostic etc.

These acts of atheist humanism will bring subtle, ongoing attention to the fact that atheists are caring, concerned people who value humanity *right now*, rather than hedging our bets on the imaginary promises of future rewards. What are you waiting for? Get started right away!

Step One: Print the Cards

Right click on this image and save it to your computer. Open your word processing document and create business cards by simply pasting this image onto the card. It is intentionally made 'too large' for business cards so it can be shrunk and maintain image clarity. You can adjust the size by shrinking the image, or shortening the width/height. Please do not alter the image itself, other than the dimensions, in any way. Print your cards, and they are ready to hand out! We're hoping to, at some point, have an online link to order the cards and have them shipped. We'll patiently await a random act of atheism for that venture to be funded ;-)

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Let's Get Started!

I'm not starting yet another blog highlighting the inanity of religion. The purpose of this blog is to document opportunities to be an awesome person, and afterwards bring it to the attention of folks from all walks of life that we are atheists. The misnomer that atheists are assholes comes hard earned in many instances, however that's only because (in my opinion) we get fed up with religious diatribe to such an extent that we no longer can sit back and let things slide by us. There comes a point when we must stand up and scream out, "Stop the nonsense!" It is then that we gather the attention of religious followers around us. They point their fingers and raise their eyebrows at the rude, garish atheist who has dared to voice dissent. As such, we're categorized as egotistical know it alls, devoid of a soul, mocking humanity's ignorance as we skip merrily into the gates of hell.

I'd like to change that negative perception.

There is, however, a glitch. Isn't that always the case? The thing is, whenever I've told people I am an atheist, I'm immediately cast into a negative category and knee jerk judgments are made against me-about my ideas, my parenting, my marriage, my happiness, my intentions..everything! At that point I'm in a no-win situation. If I'm anything but pleasant it's because I have invited Satan to consume my soul, yet if I'm the bastion of niceties I'm fake and putting on airs, or consumed with guilt for my misdeeds. So I'm done with that game.

I've decided, instead, that the world needs to know that atheists exist, and that we're very kind and caring people. In fact, I'd wager we're MORE kind and caring, because we do nice things...wait for it...because we like to. We don't do them because of some eternal reward, or because some god told us to do it. We do nice things because it's the right thing to do, and's fun! We get no extra points, and in the religious world we're all going to hell anyways, so one would thing we're the one population of individuals who could literally get away with murder. Yet we're nicer and less judgmental than your average church member. Really. I've met a lot of atheists. And a lot of church members.

So, thanks for the support and please feel free to share your ideas on the process. If you've engaged in a random act of atheism, please send us your story (remove the space before the "@" symbol before sending) so we can share (uploaded to a photosharing site and link to them in your email)! I'll write another blog post about how this will work, and we'll tweak it as needed over time, but the important thing is that we get started right away. See you soon!