We’ve been discussing a lot of the negative aspects of attending atheist conventions recently. I think it’s good that we are critical and constantly trying to do better. It’s easy, however, to lose the positive aspects in the shuffle. Here’s a piece from Calgary’s David Ince:
I kept remembering as I spoke with these people that my dictionary told me that atheism is simply a ‘lack of belief.’ That seemed so incongruous with what I was seeing here. ‘Lack’ was just not a word that fit anyone I met. This was a group overflowing as much in spirit as they were in spirits. There were many differences expressed on topics relating to things like gender, diversity and vegetarianism in informal discussions. It did get rather heated at many tables in the bar. But, there was no doubt in my mind that this was a family, and in spite of how recently I had come acquainted with this movement, this was my family.
For the Christians that keep knocking us we have to give them something back. Yes, we too have to start knocking on doors. Not on the ones that Jehovah’s Witnesses and Mormons exercise their knuckles on, but on the ones that are embedded in walls that cordon off the brain. Those that keep minds forever locked off from reality. Those for which it seems faith alone is the key. We may get ignored for a while, people may refuse to take a break from their their busy daily schedules to hear the ‘Word’ that we bring. They may consider our interruption to their ‘thinking as usual’ to be a nuisance and warn us to get off their property. But if we can go through the neighbourhoods with the type of people I met in Kamloops, the persistent pounding will one day become impossible to ignore. Those sitting comfortably in their houses of faith, will then feel obliged to peep through that small crack in their curtain and will realise to their surprise that there is indeed light on the outside.
Group gatherings can have a profoundly positive effect on people if they’re done right. They can inspire us to do better, to push harder, and to reach out and try something new. They can make us feel more connected to our community. They can make us look at ourselves in a new light. They have value, and that’s why it’s so important to make sure they’re open and inviting to all people – because we need more passionate people, more community, more involvement.
It was great to meet David in Kamloops, and I hope I get another chance to run into him soon.
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