When i was just a baby atheist, I was listening to NPR. NPR, as you know has the “This I Believe” thing that comes on ever so often(don’t know which day). Well, one day I was listening to NPR, and that segment came on. As I prepared myself to roll my eyes or facepalm when I heard who was doing their reading: Penn from the duo Penn and Teller.
The first I had was “How in the world is he going to do this?”. Heck, even the person introducing him admitted that he didn’t know where Penn was coming from until he read Penn’s entry. I held my breath during the reading, only exhaling at the finish.
The entry was funny and precise. It put a fire under my ass, so to speak. I wanted to get my entry on NPR not for the ability to be like “I’m on NPR bitches!”, but more of a “Hey, there are more of us nontheists out here. We’re positive(for the most part) and not wanting to eat your kids.
So here is my rough draft:
It happened when I came out as a nontheist to my very religious mother and grandmother. After mutterings of “What are you thinking?” and “You need to believe”, I tried to calm down my family by saying “But I do believe.” This caused a moment of awkward silence until my grandmother, my madea asked me: “Well, what do you believe?”
As I swallowed hard and collected my thoughts, I found that only two things came to mind. The first, love sounded like the most logical response at the time. The other, doing good for the sake of being good, appeared to be a type of landmine I’d want to avoid. So I chickened out.
“Love”, I said with a quaking voice.
My family looked at me as if I had three heads and resumed their discussion among themselves. As I walked away, I felt as if I were the proverbial gum on the bottom of the universe’s shoe. I then reasoned to figure out what I believed, or if I had any beliefs at all.
I learned about religious groups, bought a few books on nature based movements, and even debated with a few friends. Each step was a movement towards self discovery. Sometimes painful, sometimes funny, each moment lived brought me to an epiphany of my belief status.
I believe that I have one life to live. As a citizen of earth, I must live my life to its fullest potential. Apathy and Ignorance are my enemies, not the fellow citizens that I share the world with. For they also have only one life. This compels me to weigh the repercussions of my actions and attempt to rebuild any bridges from times that I was less than conscientious.
I believe in doing good for the sake of doing good. This was taught to me at a young age, and stays with me to this day. There are those less fortunate than me who need a person to talk to or a bowl of soup. The least I can do is to oblige when I am able to.
I believe in the vast beauty of the universe. My five senses allow me to see an awe-inspiring beauty of a starlit night, feel the cool sea breeze as I walk the beach, and taste the sweetness of a sun-ripened strawberry. These senses allow me, in my very limited view, to explore that is there on earth be it the Rocky Mountains, the remains of the Coliseum, or the bottom of the ocean. They also allow me to see what is outside of our pale blue dot: asteroids, other planets, or the pieces of the galaxy that man is able to see at this moment.
I believe that I should respect others, even if I do not agree with them. This goes past toleration. To respect someone, in my mind, is to hear them out and kindly say where you agree or disagree. To cut any person off is a great disservice to them and myself. I lose the chance to learn something new while they may lose the respect the once had for me.
All these things push me into being the best person that I can be now, while I am still alive. At the end of my life, I wish to leave a stable legacy which will go on even in death in the way of my recorded thoughts and the lives of my not yet born children. Because to live on in the positive thoughts and memories of my family and friends would be the greatest second life that I can think of.