Wednesday, May 16, 2012

When Your Lack of Belief Leaves You All Alone

The prominent philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche once stated: "The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe.  If you try it, you will be lonely often, and sometimes frightened.  But no price is too high to pay for the privilege of owning yourself."

So what do you do when you find that you are all alone amongst your family and your peers with your lack of belief?

There are a lot of potentially good answers.  For me, when I feel like no one else around me seems to see the world the way that I see it, I go back to the basics.  I start by examining how I reached the conclusion that there is not likely to be a god or any other deity.  I consider the natural truths that I find around me each day, I consider the logic that I employ to get me through each day, and I remember the people that have influenced me most on the subject.  All of this reminds me that I did not arrive at my conclusions on a whim.  Rather, my belief structure was created by the journey I have taken thus far in my life.  No single event in my life has defined me or my belief.  If for nothing else, this provides some solace, that I know my conclusion were not made in haste, and that a great deal of consideration and thought have been invested in them.  This helps me to remain steadfast. It is all too easy to fall into mainstream and "go-with-the-flow," instead of critically examining my beliefs.

Though the above suggestions may help strengthen your resolve to maintain your belief structure, it doesn't solve the issue of feeling alone.   Since you are reading this on the internet, it's safe to assume you have access to the internet, and as you all ready know, the internet is a nearly unlimited source of information and provides a boundless medium to connect to other people.  Other people, that share your same beliefs, so, use it!  One of my favorite places to visit is Atheist Nexus.  There are plenty of individuals that are happy to offer support and suggestions on how to deal with the sometimes daily hardships of being a minority group.

Finding other Atheists to meet in person may be difficult.  Like you, they may be struggling with issues of discrimination based upon their beliefs, and being open about them can be taxing for anyone.  One way of meeting others like you, may be to find a local Humanist group.  I've found that open Atheists tend to comprise a significant proportion of individuals that are active in their local Humanist groups.  A list of local chapters of the Center for Inquiry can be found here. This would be a great place to start.

If all else fails, message me.  I'm typically very good at responding quickly, and I know I had people to support me when I was questioning whether or not it was worth holding onto my belief structure, or if it would be better to give in to mainstream.  I can only hope I would be able to help others in a similar way.  Once again, the internet provides an impressive venue for such an event.

Just remember that you are certainly not alone.  It is a struggle, and though religious individuals may be irritating at times, be pleasant to them.  You never know when they may have a change in their beliefs, and may need you to welcome them with open arms, and support them along their journey.

Have a great week.

Take care,
-The Atheist Physician