Being an atheist is tough. People really don’t like us and we don’t have any fun holidays. I’ve always been a little jealous of religious folks. It must be nice to believe.
At times, I am proud of myself in the stereotypical, self-righteous atheist way. I go about my day secure in the fact that God, unicorns, and surprise 10 million dollar inheritances don’t exist and then internally roll my eyes at the lady on the street corner who never fails to tell me to “have a blessed day.”
Secretly, though, I’ve always wanted to be part of the pack. As a religious person, you generally have a flock to belong to. As an atheist, I always felt pretty much on my own. Atheists don’t tend to have a strong sense of community.
That’s part of the reason why I like being part of the gay community so much. Yesterday, I met this kid who pinged my gaydar. We were just chatting in line at the bank. I guessed he was gay, brought up my partner, threw in a female pronoun, and suddenly the kid was my new best friend. Turns out his name is Frank, he is from Kentucky, and he moved to DC to be closer to his boyfriend, who is attending school at Catholic University (oh, the irony).
I’ve never made any friends through atheism. We’re not really a social bunch.
It’s a shame, really. I think we kind of need each other. Today, while I was waiting to cross a street on the way to work, a guy tried to give me some paper. As a rule, I do not accept anything handed to me on the streets of DC so I shook my head and refused to reach for what he was offering. His response startled me. As I steadfastly refused to interact with him, the man said, “don’t you believe in God?” I looked over and he was holding flyers that had nothing but a cross and a website printed on them.
I couldn’t help myself. I engaged.
“No, I don’t,” I said. To which he replied, “what’s wrong with you?” The light turned, the little man in the box lit up to tell me to walk. Before leaving, I looked right at this guy and replied, “what’s wrong with YOU?” I walked away while he was still talking and, thankfully, he decided not to follow.
This fairly insignificant moment in the grand scheme of things sat with me all day.
Religion seems to be everywhere. I can’t go more than a couple of hours without hearing or seeing something that references it. It’s days like this where I wish I could walk down the street to my little atheist haven and be soothed by my community of fellow nonbelievers. To take sanctuary in the knowledge that we are right and that science is good. Instead, I may go home and stream Saved on Netflix tonight.
Being an atheist blows.