Sunday, August 25, 2013

It’s Okay: A Letter to Atheists

To Atheists I know and will know:  

I have wanted to write this for some time. A few acquaintances and relatives have disclosed over the years that they lost their faith in God, are agnostic, no longer believe in the existence of God or revealed that they never actually believed in the first place. This has not shocked me. I have read the current studies stating that people are leaving organized religions in droves, especially in the U.S. and Europe.  Many had these systems imposed on them simply by being born into a family that shared a particular religion and have left during the beginning stages of adulthood. I find that there is enormous tension between believers and non-believers; tension I feel should not exist. I believe in God and also believe that we are all entitled to believe in what we want. We must respect these beliefs, even if we do not agree with them. One thing history teaches us is that tolerance takes time. This goes both ways and I do not think we should waste time arguing on it. This is very important as all societies are heterogeneous in some way or another and humans will never share all the same beliefs. 

All atheists are not equal. One atheist that I know is okay and not threatened with my beliefs and we openly talk about each others, whereas an atheist relative, always wanted to tell me how foolish I was and literally argue with me for my belief in God. Every single conversation I had with this atheist centered on the existence of God. It was like this was the only topic that mattered. I tried for months to just keep things calm but it kept coming up. It was to the point where I was attacked over everything I said, even non-trivial subjects like the weather and I could not even say a greeting. I chose to break ties with this relative but I hope one day to try to recover the relationship. I wondered if and why some atheists are like this? I see my faith as a journey and not a destination. Those who do not believe are on a journey too, one of acceptance. I want atheists to know that I accept them, but I would like for them to accept me as well. I do not want to persuade you to believe in God, or subscribe to the same faith system as I do, I just want get along with you. I like Neil deGrasse Tyson and science, especially astronomy. I even like Bill Maher. 

Just as I do not want to be lumped in a category as all believers, namely Christians (Catholic in my case), I do not lump all atheists in one box. In fact, I do not even believe in categorization. I often struggle with my faith. That does not mean I want to just let it go though. I believe the greatest challenge that my faith has taught/teaches me is to love everyone unconditionally; even those I feel have wronged me or do not believe what I believe. This is going to take a lifetime to achieve and I am very likely never to get there but my faith propels me to try. No one is perfect but that is what makes us humans. As the world’s belief in religions evolves with time, tolerance is very needed. The next generation will not be raised the same way I was and globalization is changing how people view beliefs in a higher existence.

So this letter is to call a truce and apologize to atheists that I know and will know, my friends and those in my family. I am sorry if your coming out as an atheist/agnostic has brought hurt, judgment and pain from believers. Know that all believers are not alike.  I would like us to both challenge ourselves to attempt being friends with each other and end the bantering that gets us no where.  If I am the only believer that accepts you, then let us be an example to others. Feel pride in who you are and what you believe and know that there are believers out there that are open-minded and want to extend an olive branch.  

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