When Ignorance Isn’t…

Over the past several months, I have watched a noted trend among various sects of the Secular Community.  It’s led me to really start paying attention to conversations around me, on social media, live stream videos and the like.

Coming from a highly religious background into Atheism was not an easy transition for me.  Like me, a lot of people were raised in that type of environment.  It’s all we knew, at one point.

So while I’m sitting here, watching these comments and discussions happening, I can’t help but notice the sheer disdain we, as a community, are projecting upon those with a different mindset.

In multiple places last night, I watched comments such as “she’s too stupid to see her own nose”, “what a complete fucking moron”, “how ignorant can one person be”, “some people are just born stupid”.  These were all projected at a christian, who was already showing signs of skepticism.

I went through the exact same reconversion to Atheism 5 years ago, though mine took much longer than it should have.  I was married to a Militant Atheist, who had no idea HOW to help me, but took that same stance with me.  As you can imagine, calling your wife ignorant did not have the effect he was hoping it would.

I completely turned away from him, and from Atheism, for a time.

I struggled with my own mind for nearly 3 years, having no where to turn for help.  It was perhaps, the longest 3 years of my life.  I kept looking for answers, but what I found were mounds of hatred for religion.  Instead of hope, I found contempt, and even more importantly, I found that regardless of the fact that I have my PhD, because I was steeped in religious dogma and had been for nearly 30 years, it was assumed, not just by my own husband, but by everyone I approached, that I was just stupid.

Everyone but ONE individual.  And I am writing this because he saw fit to look past my insecurity and see the woman beneath all the chaotic, scattered thinking and fear.  He took the time to recognize that I had valid questions that begged for reasonable answers.

I have posted about this on my Facebook before, but I will reiterate it here, because it is of the highest importance.

That one individual took enough time to get to know me.  And ended up knowing me well enough that he knew I didn’t need him to open the door for me.  I just needed the reassurance that I already had the key to open it.

If you are assuming that all people of religion are ignorant, you have done a huge disservice to yourself, as a free thinker, skeptic and Atheist.  When you present yourself in a public forum, and you are making assumptions about ones intellect and critical thinking skills based on nothing more than a mere word, this is where I advise you to take a more cautionary stance.

I’m not telling you that you can’t be mad at religion.  We all have the right to be mad.  I’m not saying don’t ever discuss how you feel on the matter.  By all means, do so among your friends.  But directing your anger at an individual negates any potential for open dialogue; one that can potentially change a mind, and a life, for the better, especially when it’s the truth they seek.

There are so many more people in the world, who are like I once was.  You see them all the time.  You call them names.  You berate them and belittle them.  And you are basing it off an ideology that lumps a false collective intellect on a large group, thereby making it a composition/division fallacy.

As Atheists, we all need to recognize skepticism for what it is; doubting a truth that they have been indoctrinated in, often since birth..  We don’t just need to see it, we need to act on it.

When I say we need to act, I don’t mean with incredulity and disdain.  I mean get off your ass, reach your hand out, and offer that person some reason, stability, and more importantly, kindness.

You don’t have to be hell bent on converting someone away from religion to accomplish that very thing.  Sometimes a simple gesture is enough.  Show them they already have the key.

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