Another Spectrum

Personal ramblings and rants of a somewhat twisted mind

I am atheism


I am atheism.
I’m visible in your children, but if I can help it, I am invisible to you until it’s too late.
I know where you live.
And guess what? I live there too.
I hover around all of you.
I know no colour barrier, no religion, no morality, no currency.
I speak your language fluently.
And with every voice I take away, I acquire yet another language.
I work very quickly.
I work faster than paediatric aids, cancer, and diabetes combined
And if you’re happily married, I will make sure that your marriage fails.
Your money will fall into my hands, and I will bankrupt you for my own self-gain.
I don’t sleep, so I make sure you don’t either.
I will make it virtually impossible for your family to easily attend a temple, birthday party, or public park without a struggle, without embarrassment, without pain.
You have no cure for me.
Your scientists don’t have the resources, and I relish their desperation. Your neighbours are happier to pretend that I don’t exist—of course, until it’s their child.
I am atheism. I have no interest in right or wrong. I derive great pleasure out of your loneliness.
I will fight to take away your hope. I will plot to rob you of your children and your dreams. I will make sure that every day you wake up you will cry, wondering who will take care of my child after I die?
And the truth is, I am still winning, and you are scared. And you should be.
I am atheism. You ignored me. That was a mistake.
And to atheism I say:
I am a father, a mother, a grandparent, a brother, a sister.
We will spend every waking hour trying to weaken you.
We don’t need sleep because we will not rest until you do.
Family can be much stronger than atheism ever anticipated, and we will not be intimidated by you, nor will the love and strength of my community.
I am a parent riding toward you, and you can push me off this horse time and time again, but I will get up, climb back on, and ride on with the message.
Atheism, you forget who we are. You forget who you are dealing with. You forget the spirit of mothers, and daughters, and fathers and sons.
We are Qatar. We are the United Kingdom. We are the United States. We are China. We are Argentina. We are Russia. We are the Eurpoean Union. We are the United Nations.
We are coming together in all climates. We call on all faiths. We search with technology and voodoo and prayer and herbs and genetic studies and a growing awareness you never anticipated.
We have had challenges, but we are the best when overcoming them. We speak the only language that matters: love for our children.
Our capacity to love is greater than your capacity to overwhelm.
Atheism is naïve. You are alone. We are a community of warriors. We have a voice.
You think because some of our children cannot speak, we cannot hear them? That is atheism’s weakness.
You think that because my child lives behind a wall, I am afraid to knock it down with my bare hands?
You have not properly been introduced to this community of parents and grandparents, of siblings and friends and schoolteachers and therapists and pediatricians and scientists.
Atheism, if you are not scared, you should be.
When you came for my child, you forgot: you came for me.
Atheism, are you listening?

Are you an atheist? Did the message above appal you? I hope it did.

Are you religious? Did the message above appal you? I hope it did.

In some regions of the world, atheists are victims of the attitudes displayed in the transcript above, and many of the religious in those regions would support the sentiments it contains, even if they would be reluctant to voice them openly. Fortunately I live in a region where all forms of religion and non-religion are accepted and valued. Atheism along with the world’s major religions are regarded in a positive light by around 90% of the population.

That’s about all I’m going to say about atheism and religion in this post as it is not really about religion (or lack of it) at all.

Huh? I hear you say? Truly it’s not. The transcript above has been very slightly modified from the original by replacing one word with the word atheism. I could have changed a few additional words the make it more consistent, but I think the message is very clear as it is, and that is that atheism is a very bad thing indeed.

While I concede that the harm manifest in the transcript will not be recognised by some fundamentalists of any religious flavour, I think the rest of us, religious or not, can see it. In some parts of the world, the transcript might be considered hate speech and the speakers sanctioned accordingly.

Most people like me will recognise the transcript, and know what word originally stood in place of atheism. We know it is hateful and harmful. People like me experience the result of the demonising of our person-hood that voices such as the ones in the original transcript cause – every day.

Can you imagine what it would be like to be subjected to not just disapproval or hatred, but intense compliance-based training to ensure every action, every deed, every word that you utter or write makes you indistinguishable from others in a devout religious community? Many like me don’t need to imagine. We’ve lived it.

Although the analogy of atheism is not perfect, if it’s made you uncomfortable or angry,  or given you food for thought, then I’ve succeeded. If you don’t know what the original word is in the transcript that I replaced with atheism, I’ll help you out. It’s another word starting with “A“. The transcript is of an advertisement put out by an organisation that supposedly has our best interests at heart, but fails to consult us or allow us to take a part in its activities, and makes others fear and hate what we are. No matter where we are in the world, we cannot escape the attitudes expressed in the transcript.

The original word in the transcript that I replaced with atheism is autism, and the advertisement is I Am Autism put out by Autism Speaks. I’m not going to put a link to the video, but if you want to see it in all its horror, search YouTube for “I Am Autism commercial by Autism Speaks”.

It does not speak for me!

Author: Barry

A post war baby boomer from Aotearoa New Zealand who has lived with migraines for as long as I can remember and was diagnosed as being autistic aged sixty. I blog because in real life I'm somewhat backwards about coming forward with my opinions.

23 thoughts on “I am atheism

  1. Well done. It did seem familiar. Glad you clarified at the end. As an atheist I was seeing some of the lines like I was considered by many to be the boogeyman. Lol

  2. The analogy is completely and utterly false.

    You present the substitution as if atheism is a thing. a “very bad thing”. It’s not. It is a no thing, empty, a null set. It contains nothing. It has no principles, no fundamental precepts, no worldview, no feelings, no agenda, no nothing. It is a lack of belief in gods or a god. It is not analogous to autism because autism is a thing, a spectrum disorder of social behaviour. A no thing cannot be analogous to a thing. So why spread this misunderstanding?

    • Apparently you missed the point. The analogy is not about comparing autism to atheism, but to how people are encouraged to think about it.

    • Good grief tildeb. You are getting on your high horse over what you claim is nothing. I put it to you that it can’t be nothing if you feel so strongly about it.

      I can quote many people who shout from the rooftops that atheism is a “very bad thing”. They seen to be everywhere in America and even the president seems to think unkindly of it. There’s places where atheist are reluctant to “come out” regarding their atheism. I follow several bloggers in that situation. Other bloggers I follow have lost jobs or have otherwise been subjected to religious privilege. So to claim it’s not a thing in the context in which I used it is really splitting hairs.

      There’s no need to repeat defining atheism to me. I agree with your definition. Always have.

      The post is about attitudes, not about the nature of atheism or autism. I live in a place where atheism is a non issue. Three of our last four Prime Ministers have been atheists. However attitudes towards autism limit those on the spectrum far more than autism itself. The analogy is in the attitudes and misunderstanding that many have about atheism and autism. Too often both are seen as something that should be fought against and society would be better off without them.

      • Good grief tildeb. You are getting on your high horse over what you claim is nothing. I put it to you that it can’t be nothing if you feel so strongly about it.

        Well, he tends to feel really strongly about nothing and gets really upset about nothing. He likes to rant about nothing and he often writes 30+ posts on multiple blogs arguing about nothing. 🙂

        • I get annoyed when people misrepresent atheism and so I correct them so they don’t make the same mistake repeatedly.

          I know; damned nice of me.

          And then you continue to misrepresent me and think well of yourself for doing so. Strange, that, but hey… you go right and ahead and remain a fool.

          • Maybe you need a better hobby?

            Besides, I’m just paying it forward. I don’t think I’ve seen you engage in a conversation yet where you didn’t habitually misrepresent the opposing person’s viewpoints. Nothing like a good Strawman to make you feel more reasonable in the morning, amirite!

            • CR, you’re not paying it forward because you’re not explaining why my commentary is ‘nothing’; instead you’re simply taking an opportunity to be snide and petulant. Isn’t that all grown up of you to have an adult conversation.

              You see, CR, I explain my criticism. You say that’s ‘nothing’. Well, that is a misrepresentation, intentionally done by you for your own childish reasons and amusement. I think it is offered for Barry’s consideration. That you don’t consider it worthy is not a reflection on me but on you. Do with it what you will. But to then claim all kinds of shit about me is adding more misrepresentation. Go back upthread and reread what I said to Barry. It is a criticism based on what he has written. You can agree, disagree, ignore it. I don’t care. But don’t misrepresent me and think your immature comments are justified because your snowflake sensibilities haven’t been groomed enough by me to suit your own ego. If you can’t handle my reasoning responsibly then piss off, you nit.

              That, too is something I offer to you and not ‘nothing’. It’s worth your consideration.

            • It’s called satire. Whether it was good or bad satire that is for other people to decide.

              It also sounds like you’re projecting. Based on your responses thus far it’s pretty clear somebody is being a touch oversensitive and got their feelings hurt, but it ain’t me.

              As far as the main issue, the poem is more about how atheism is perceived by the world to highlight how autism is perceived (by replacing the word autism with atheism), not what is, hence I don’t find your comment particularly relevant. How something is perceived versus what it is are two very different things. Granted some of the lines don’t work very well in this regard, and Barry admitted that in the post.

          • @ Tildeb. Having read my reply and that of Catana, do you still believe I misrepresent atheism in the blog post?

            • Yes, by way of a false analogy. I understand your intent; I am saying the analogy fails because atheism has to be something it isn’t in order for it to work.

        • @consoledreader,
          I wouldn’t be so harsh on Tildeb. I find I frequently surprise myself by agreeing with the gist of what he says although not necessarily the manner in which it is said. My response to him above, reflects more on how I felt at the time rather than how I feel about Tildeb or what he believes. Pain and hypersensitivity caused by migraine tends to make one less civil than one should be. In fact I didn’t realise the nature of my comment until you drew my attention to it.

          I was probably also annoyed that the purpose of the post was completely misunderstood, either because of (1) Tildeb’s sensitivity to criticism of atheism and New Atheism in particular allowed him to fail to recognise that the post was not about atheism at all but about how people are being encouraged to develop/hold prejudices – in this case about autism spectrum disorder difference, or (2) my inability to convey what I felt internally into a form that can be comprehended by others. Whatever the reason, in Tildeb’s case the message was lost, which no doubt contributed to my irritation.

          I have neither prescribed nor proscribed how comments should be made, but I do expect comments to be respectful of others. If you and Tildeb wish to argue, by all means do so, but I would prefer that it didn’t degenerate into a mutual criticism of personality traits.

          • You’re a very nice person, Barry. Generally, I would prefer to discuss the issues as well and will ALWAYS do so with a person who demonstrates they want to have a real discussion. Considering new ideas, perspectives, and evidence we hadn’t seen before is how we grow wiser.

            Yes, there are things that TildeB has written before that I agree with.

          • Harsh? It’s petulant and childish. It’s not a criticism based on anything other than me using what s/he feels is too many words for the poor sod’s sensibilities. Boo hoo.

  3. opening transcript did seem familiar, and I was not in the least surprised to discover what the substituted word was or who was responsible – once you put the original word back in it becomes a piece that could be produced by only one organisation. None of the USian autistic bloggers who I follow have a good word to say for this organisation – and your post has highlighted why.

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  5. I think I’m out of my depth in this company, but for my penn’orth—if the whole world went atheist we’d all be better off.

    But if we do have to have irrational beliefs, then surely all the believers in the many different franchises could get together and over a few beers thrash it out like gentlemen to just the one; and we run with that?

    Sadly with atheism there’s just nothing to fight about.
    But with religions we can slaughter each other over the name of God/Gods/Godlets etc to our hearts’ content; everyone is happy. (Except for the poor old co-lateral atheist, no?)

    • In one word, No. Atheism is no protection from the abuse of power. And if you live in a society where one can believe “with religions we can slaughter each other over the name of God/Gods/Godlets etc to our hearts’ content; everyone is happy”, then it’s a sick society.

      On the whole we’ve stopped talking about religion as a “Truth” and refer to aspects of religion as tradition. Just as we talk about cultural traditions, so we talk about religious traditions. None is better or more “correct” than any other. Just different.

  6. Yes. I did get the point …

    You have my sincere sympathies, autism is a terrible thing.

    • If you really think that autism is a terrible thing (and you’re not commenting tongue in cheek), then you most definitely did not get the point.

      • Good friends of ours had an autistic son. I do think that autism (from what I’ve learned of it) is a terrible thing.

        As for any religion being better than any other, we can make our own judgements. There are claims made by and for all religions and it then becomes a numbers game.
        ‘True’ Buddhism would seem on face value to be most in line with my core beliefs and thus the most acceptable, to me. The history of Christianity includes the Hole Stake, strappado, thumb screws, red hot irons—much like modern Islam, in fact. Not good, not nice, and none of it appeals to me. Modern Islam likewise but we talk present and future tense.

        Atheism cannot be a protection against the abuse of power.

        Nothing can be, unless it is the possession of greater power and a known determination to use it if need be—against a rabid fundamentalist across the street with a knife and ambitions on my guts, I’d say that my shotgun (loaded, cocked and with the safety off) would be a better protection than all the atheism in the world.

        And yes, I do like the way you changed the word to make your point — “O wad some Power the giftie gie us, to see oursels as ithers see us!” … well done.

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