We all need a coping mechanism; something that will make us feel loved, safe and accepted. Sometimes life doesn’t work out the way we had planned, and that is when we need someone’s guidance, someone to ask for help, and even someone to blame. A religion, a God, a superior entity – whatever you follow or believe in, it is to make you feel comfortable, give you peace, and make you feel at ease. But what if that’s not the case; what about those who don’t believe in God?
An Atheist is a person who disbelieves or lacks belief in the existence of God or Gods. Like thousands of others, I’m someone who’s stuck somewhere in between 'there is no God at all' and 'maybe there is a God, but until I have proof, I'm on the fence about it'. The whole idea of it sort of seems unnecessary to me. When asked why I don't believe in God, the only way I can describe it is by saying that it's kind of like false hope. It feels like waiting for someone to pick up the phone, but the sim card is in an old 2002 Nokia brick that the owner stopped using, and when you meet them in person, they still give you that number to call them on.
I'd say I'm quite an open-minded person, one to easily accept people for who they are and ready to listen to anything they have to tell me, no matter how weird it gets. But there is something about religion that when people tell me certain things about their practices or what they are 'obliged' to accept in their religion, I feel annoyed. It just doesn’t make much sense to me, and so I choose not to seek comfort in believing in a superior entity. I have the right not to.
Religious people seem to attack atheists about their beliefs and contradict those who don’t feel the same as they do about God. A few weeks ago I had a doctor appointment that somehow turned into a psychology session. I was asked whether I was religious or not - being of Indian ethnicity, I guess I come across as a person who is religious or believes in some sort of god. The doctor was so surprised and somewhat disgusted when I told her I wasn’t, and the expression that fell upon her face made me feel violated and attacked. “NO?” She replied with such force that it honestly took me by surprise. Who is she to frown upon me for my decisions? I don’t hold faith in such a thing and that is my business, my choice, and something that I have the right to make a decision about without the judgements or influence of others.
It’s something about how people feel the need to look down at those who don’t share the same views on religion as them that makes me want to have a sit down session with them and ask why they never learnt the common decency to just let people be.
The thing is, younger people are much more accepting. I have many friends who hold faith in a God or a religion, who don’t question me or attempt to make me feel foolish. It’s not hardwired into our brains to look down at those who don’t feel the same as you do about a topic like God. Along the same lines of discrimination and racism, making someone feel bad and putting them down because of their choice of faith is an act that you purposefully choose to impose on an individual or a group. It is nurture, not nature, that shapes us and our behaviors and attitudes.
As an atheist, I don’t feel the need to pour my non-religious decisions onto someone who doesn’t think the way I do. As an atheist, I don’t contradict those who hold faith in God. As an atheist, I’m still human and would like those who question me to know that I get offended, just like everyone in contemporary society. In a world where you could be focusing on so many other subject matters, in a society that is already so goddam judgmental and unapologetic, why would you feel the need to fuel further conflict?
My choices don’t affect your life. Don’t let your choices affect mine.
Cover Image by Jodeci Zimmerman