Politics, part II

I was raised by good people. Good socialists, to be precise.

They taught me the importance of equality before the law, of social justice and of being the change you want to see in the world. They are very good parents, but better role models. And I mean that in the best possible way.

Because I became a class traitor three years ago.

I rejected the tenets of socialism, especially as pertained to communal ownership, state annexation of all private property, expansive statism, knee-jerk idealism trumping real-world challenges and some really unpleasant bedfellows in the war against “evil”.

Because the people I knew on this particular side of the fence never struck me as evil, or even judgmental. On the contrary, they were very keen to discuss points of view without resorting to name-calling or slogans.

Let me elucidate. I read both Marx and Mao at a tender, young age. My parents were (and are) firm believers in getting behind your convictions. They never kept me from exploring anything. And so, because I found my political home in social liberalism, I had to stand by it, even while it put me at odds with the ideologies my parents imparted to me.

I hope I will have the balls to do the same for my kids. Because my parents understood something crucial: it is not about the ideology you subscribe to, but the content of your character. All ideologies want you to strive for the better, both for yourself and others. It is a rare person who can see through the espoused conviction to the person who lies beneath.

All we have is each other. My parents understood this. I hope you will too.

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Radical atheism

I used to be a radical atheist.

By this I mean I was aggressively antagonistic to any and all religious expressions, and that religious people offended me by talking about their faith.

I don’t feel that way anymore, but I feel I need to speak up on behalf of radical atheists who are being labelled as extremists and fundamentalists by the likes of… well, people like me.

You see, we weren’t just converted by the church of Dawkins et al. We didn’t sign up to preach the gospel of hating and condemning any and all gods. We weren’t envious or resentful towards religious communities for their great strides in the betterment of the human condition.

Religious people made us this way. With forced attendance in churches, school-sanctioned proselytizing, the tacit assumption that we all carried some religious “gene” that made us silent partners in the church and with the condemnation espoused by devoutly religious leaders when we failed to heed their advice.

Of course we were angry. Of course we were furious. Of course we needed to object vehemently. We needed to establish our resistance to what we perceived as a tyranny of religious consent. We thought of people who, like us, needed to be free, but who didn’t dare, and who needed the support of others.

Today, I like to think I am more tolerant. Religion is a matter between you and your god. Of course, I could be wrong. Maybe tolerance isn’t the way to go. Maybe aggressive, radical atheism has a place in human affairs. If you think so, please ensure the following:

1) force everyone to believe in the same god.

2) enforce state religions.

3) claim your particular faith deserves special recognition by the state, and this should be reflected in legislation.

If, however, you believe faith is a matter between you and god, I can assure you the age of radical atheism is rapidly coming to an end.

This has been a public service announcement.