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Archive for November, 2011

I’ve seen this little gem posted on Facebook a few times.  I know, I know.  For my own sanity I should just walk away.  Poking the crazy is such a strong temptation but I figured torching a friendship (or fracturing family relations) is not worth feeling superior over.  So instead I’m going to do it here.

Back to this not-funny cartoon:

Interestingly this comic touches on two things that  ZOMG!OppressedChristians! (TM) like to twist to make it seem like the evil atheists are trying to abolish or take away their enjoyment of their faith.

Most obvious is the War on Christmas (TM)!  There is no war on Christmas.  I don’t give a flying fuck if you wish me a Merry Christmas, Happy Solstice, or Chrismahanukwanzikah.  When you say any of these to me, I assume that it reflects your beliefs and I usually will smile and respond “You too!”.  I alternate between Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays depending on the person, and if I were working a customer service job I would default to Happy Holidays.  The reason isn’t not offending, the reason is that I wish to be as inclusive as possible.   Religion isn’t obvious, like blue eyes or red hair.  People choose religion, and sometimes even change religions.  I don’t know if the person in front of me is Jewish, Christian, Atheist, Muslim, Pagan, or whatever.  I wish everyone happiness at this time.

So go have yourself a Merry Christmas.  Hell, say it as much as you want.  Just don’t demand that I say it too, because it doesn’t show how christian you are, it shows how much of an asshole you are and how insecure you are that you need sheep bellowing the same thing all around you.

The less obvious part of this is separation of church and state.  Once again, this totally misses the point.  Kids will not get in trouble if they express their faith in public school.   It’s one thing to say “I’m Christian and I celebrate Christmas”.  It’s another to expect everyone else to do the same.  And if I recall correctly, teachers and administrators can get in trouble if they discuss religion in any way that promotes one above any others or with any intention of proselytizing.  However, if this little boy said to another child “You are dumb because you don’t celebrate Christmas”, then maybe a trip to the principal’s office is in order.

Us Evil Atheists are not looking to take away Christmas.  I celebrate it as a secular holiday and as a time to share love with my family and friends.  Giving gifts makes me happy.  Other’s celebrate it as Yule, or the solstice.  It is also a federal holiday.  Don’t be a herd animal and post this drivel.  Spend that energy elsewhere, be a role model and use that energy to help others, not just in December but all year long.  Charities that have a glut of volunteers in December have a difficult time finding them in the summer.  Use those mouse clicks to spend $20 to help feed or immunize people in impoverished countries (or hey, your own country, we have plenty of hungry and homeless people here).  If you are privileged enough that all you have to worry about is this War on Christmas bullshit, rejoice and Happy Holidays!

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I have been watching all the videos from Skepticon IV and I really wish I could have been there.  I particularly liked Hemant’s and Greta’s presentations.  While I am more an more comfortable with my atheism, it is still sometimes a lonely existence and I think of how fun it would be to share an experience like this with like-minded people.  Unfortunately my schedule does not easily allow for this (nor does my budget).  However I’m getting more bold about revealing my atheism and in turn, I’m finding out that some people around me share my point of view.

Refreshing.

I also want to acknowledge JT Eberhard’s presentation about mental illness.  I have struggled in the past with major depression (was nearly hospitalized) and moderate anxiety.  While my family was unflinchingly supportive as I sought out help, my husband was slower to come around because he viewed it as a sign of weakness (if you saw JT’s speech, this is mentioned).  After the first two weeks I was in therapy and on medication, I made a complete turnaround.  I was able to stop taking my meds (only to go back on temporarily a few years later) and have come to pay more attention to my moods.  Going through treatment taught me to get more in touch with my emotions, since bottling them up to not burden anyone doesn’t really work all that well.  In fact it usually results in another relapse.  Now when I start getting that panicky feeling for no reason, I can often talk myself down because I now recognize it for what it is, a total overreaction by my flight or flight response.   And if I’m in a funk for more than a few days, I take a look at what I’m doing and how I’m being.  Often if I shake up my routine a bit and get in more sunshine and activity I can avoid that downward slope into depression (I’m solar powered, who knew?).  This is what works for me, and I want to avoid going back on meds because I hate that fuzzy feeling I get when I’m on them.  Yet I know that if I reached a point where shaking up my life a bit will not pull me out, I would not hesitate to seek out counseling and medication if warranted.  They really can be a miracle for those suffering.

Before I was prescribed Prozac for the first time I was sleeping 12-14 hours a day and still moving through my waking life as if I were half-asleep.  I would cry at damn near any perceived slight or frustration, and I would have random panic attacks for no good reason (it was fun feeling like I couldn’t leave the restroom at work without totally flipping out).  When I finally decided to seek out a referral from my regular doctor, the combination of fear, relief, and disappointment in myself triggered a 2-day crying jag.  That right there let me know I was on the right path.

I was tired of not being able to function.  I was tired of trying to fake normalcy for everyone around me.  I no longer wanted to live the way I was, but I wanted to live.  JT is right, we need to remove the stigma on mental illness.  Being depressed is not a sign of weakness, having hallucinations is not a sign of weakness, having panic attacks is not a sign of weakness.   They are signs that there is a chemical imbalance that needs to be corrected.  Much like diabetes, or hyperthyroidism, or any number of diseases and disorders that require maintenance medication.  Seeking help is not a sign of weakness.

It is a sign that you are strong enough to realize  you need help.

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