Wednesday, February 8, 2012

This I Believe

Today is my birthday. My birthday is my New Years. This is when I make resolutions. I have made resolutions with friends on January 1st before, but the ones that are personal, the resolutions that I give more consideration to are the ones I make every year on February 8th.  Of course, just as most resolutions made on January 1st, not all of my February 8th resolutions have been followed through.

My resolutions have varied from being more mindful of what I say to others to quit smoking, which next month I will be a non-smoker for two years. This year’s resolution is more on a personal level. It is more an existential resolution. I want to be more open and honest about how I feel and who I am.

I guess in a way this is my coming out as an Atheist. I do not believe coming out is something that I necessarily need, or should have to do. However, here I am doing just that. I am not doing this to be in anyone’s face, “Hey, look at me. I’m an Atheist”. Nothing such as that. I’m not like a religious zealot about Atheism. I only want to be fair, not just to myself, but to be fair to my family and friends.

I have always been an Atheist. I just haven’t been an open Atheist. My journey of being honest and open with myself about being an Atheist spans my life up to today. I have always feared how my family and friends would react. I never want to lose anyone I love because of this.

I have always bowed my head for prayer. I have made my children bow their heads for prayer. I have never retaliated over smartass facebook cartoons and quotes belittling other religions and non-believers. I have stood by and respected other’s religion and beliefs. The problem I have been dealing with, internally, for a couple years is that I am starting to resent loved ones. I am resenting them for not respecting me the same way I do them.

However, the true problem is, I have never given them the opportunity to respect me. My resentment and anger has been groundless. Now that I realize this, I know I have to be open with people. I am sure I’ll be met with a battle due to some of the things I want changed. I am prepared.

I have talked with my wife about all of this and she is extremely supportive. A couple of years ago I told my wife that I believed all children are born Atheist. I do not believe we are born with an innate idea of religion, gods, good, evil, black and white. Our religion heavily depends on our parents and extended family’s religion. Our religion depends on our geographical location of our birth. By being born in the United States, I had a very good chance of being born to a self-professed Christian family. And of course the denomination of my Christianity was solely based upon my family‘s denomination. I did not choose to be baptized. I did not choose to be a part of the Lutheran church. I was not born that way. I was not born Lutheran. I was told that I was Lutheran. I was told that I was religious. I was told that I was a Christian.

My kids are going to learn about all religions. They will not be indoctrinated with one belief. They will not be indoctrinated with any belief other than the knowledge they can choose for themselves what is right for them, and for them only. They will learn about religion, they will not learn to be a religion or not to be a religion.

Today is my birthday. I am 36 years old. I am a non-believer, secular humanist. I treat people with respect. I treat people decently. I am a good person, not because I am promised something or threatened with something to be a good person. I am a good person because that is what I know to be right; those are my morals and ethics.

This I believe…

…if you are a believer, good for you. I am happy for you. I am not trying to change your mind. I am glad you have your religion and beliefs. I do not judge you, and all I ask is you please do not judge me. Remember, I only deny one more god/deity than you do. Just as you don’t believe in Zeus, Thor, Isis, Osiris or any other 2,500 plus deities that have been worshiped as the one true god, I don’t believe in them either, nor do I believe in a satan or devil.

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