First of all, I am who I am!  I will not, by godlessdamn, be anything other than myself. 

Second, I have little to loose.  I played the games, faked the faces, but I never could really hide who I am.  I became disliked, sometimes ridiculed, very often ignored, but because I have always believed in a few things very strongly, things like ethics and truth, and I stood up for them rather than cowtowing to unfair employers or crooks, over the years I lost pretty much everything.

Third, I'm pissed off.  I'm pissed that religious people talk through their ass about being accepting, about a "free" country, about how one should "be themselves," yadda, yadda, but when someone is different, when a person is a non-conformist, when a person questions everything, there is neither acceptance or freedom.  I'm also pissed off that so-called "good people" are such fucking cowards most of the time.  When push comes to shove they run and/or hide and let bullies win.

Fourth, I never go half way.  I figure if I'm going to do something I will do it right.  Pussy-footing around and hiding what I believe or think is just something I have never been able to do.

Fifth, I'm pissed off, part two.  I'm pissed off at myself, and at the religious indoctrination that I sucked up for way too long.  I'm pissed that I didn't see it sooner and just walk away.  I'm pissed that I could be so easily manipulated or so powerfully deluded for so long.

Sixth, I'm pissed off, part three.  I'm pissed off that people are not free to be who they are.  I'm pissed off that people hate other people without any justification, just because they are (not choose to be) different and have a different world view.

Seventh, In for a penny, in for a pound.  I think my dear, departed mother said that.  Since I am already alone, since I already spend my days isolated and staring out the back window, since I know there's not a "prayer's chance" I'll escape any time soon, what the hell, right?  At least getting into atheism activism online or whatever will give me something to do.

Eighth, I am who I am, part two.  I've never been able to figure out if there's a "little dark cloud" following me around or if there's just some kind of evil secret conspiracy to keep me by myself all the time, or maybe there's just something about my personality or the shape of my nose or something that keeps people at arms length.  Could be my honesty, or my willingness to be open, who knows.  If I am going to go slowly nuts I may as well jump in with both feet and prove I am, right?

Nineth: Ethics and Morality.  In this world it's more of a tragedy to say "fuck" in public than it is to support wars that murder children.  In this world affection for another is good at some times and not at others simply because some religious jackass says so.  In this world people get hurt, mistreated, spend their days miserable and depressed because "the rules" put them all in boxes which makes them miserable. 

What is ethical?  To my mind it's being honest, doing a good job, obeying laws and rules that protect people, respecting others, and standing up against bullies, corruption, and criminal conduct.  To me, being ethical means not doing anything that causes others harm either through one's job or in daily conduct.  This is supposed to be true, but in practice it's mostly ignored.  Nobody follows ethics any more.  When they do they're persecuted, fired, or worse.

What is moral?  Morality is that which respects and preserves life.  Life is important.  This means treating others fairly, being kind, giving the benefit of the doubt, forgiving.  It also means respecting and protecting the planet and all other sentient living species. Morality does not and should not define human behavior, relationships, or activities when they do not harm or impinge on the rights of others.

Both ethics and morality by these definitions can be carried to extremes but in general these are how I believe people should live.  What do they have to do with why I am an atheist?  They have a lot to do with it because religious nuts claim atheists have neither and by having them and declaring myself to be an atheist I prove them wrong.  They are important because these concepts do not come FROM a religious belief but they were added TO religious beliefs because they are universal human points of view.  They are an important element in the evolution of mankind.  And until they are properly defined and divorced from religion they will never have any real meaning.

Tenth, because I give a damn.  Though I have tried hard many times NOT to care, it is impossible for me.  I have always cared, about people, about humanity, about our planet.  My trip through and eventually out of christianity is one littered with the failures of trying to DO SOMETHING about some THING that was causing pain to someone.  I've jacked up on all kinds of causes; long stories all.  At last I find myself, as mentioned, staring out the back window at trees and sky without anyone to have a simple conversation with and no way to DO SOMETHING at all. 

But I have discovered there are many who suffer for some of the same reasons I do.  Maybe I can encourage them to be who they are and to not feel quite so painfully unique and alone.  Maybe there'll come an opportunity to share my own experiences with one or two in person.  Or maybe my words will be useful online, or wherever.  I am slowly getting over my "savior complex" but I still want to help somebody, to be useful to somebody, make someone else feel better.  If I can do that by declaring myself as an atheist, then that is good.

Finally, to be perfectly and painfully honest, I want to be accepted as who I am.  I want to feel like I have a purpose, like I am appreciated, for who I am.  I don't want to feel lonely.  So fucking what I am an old, somewhat fat, crazy looking guy?  So fucking what I don't measure up?  So fucking what I'm a bohemian, a bit of a nut?  If there's anybody, anywhere out there with whom I could identify, be a friend with, have camaraderie and companionship it would HAVE to be an atheist.  And it's bound to be an atheist who has anything like my point of view on things or similar interests.  Or so it seems.  Certainly, people are under no obligation (as in there's no god telling us) to be good, kind, all that shit.  But if some day I find an atheist is willing to be a friend then it must be genuine because of who they are.  In my case there's certainly no other reason.  I search for that genuine person. 

I am neither a "proud" atheist nor particularly happy about it.  I am what I am because my mind and heart tells me that the most important thing in this world is to know Truth and follow it.  I followed those bible verses right out of the book itself until the meaning of the word became far more real than it was when truth was a fairy tale.  I am, in fact, often depressed, sometimes frustrated, and almost always alone because I am an atheist.  It is not an easy road but it is the "less traveled path" I had no choice but to follow.

My trip into atheism was a long, hard, convoluted passage.  The future does not promise peace and prosperity but poverty and loss.  This is a given for many, or most, who live in the same or a similar situation which I live in.  But nevertheless, I am what I am, an atheist.

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Comment by annet on February 23, 2012 at 10:44pm

That is indeed an impressive, impassioned and funny rant.  Bravo.  

The only point I might not agree with is that people used to be ethical. 

Comment by Ted Gresham on February 22, 2012 at 4:26pm

Thanks, Jean.  Frustrating, isn't it?  Time wasted.  We do what we can do, though, and plod right along.

Comment by Jean Stephanson on February 22, 2012 at 2:25pm
(grrr!) ... And my church were all a big load of crap. Fundamentalist parents can do that to you, I guess. It took me so darn long to catch-on and eventually come-out as an atheist, it's like I wasted most of my life. I guess that's not true- I was learning all the time ... ... guess I'm a slow learner! Anyway, I enjoyed your blog and I hope you are not lonely today!
Comment by Jean Stephanson on February 22, 2012 at 2:18pm
I enjoyed your rant, Ted. You sound like me at times. I am so disgusted with myself that it took me so damn long to catch on to the fact that my x-ianity



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