The Sunny Skeptic: Tiny (and not-so-tiny) Ways That YOU Can Advance Atheism
By Crystal Dervetski
When people think of activism, they can sometimes get overwhelmed. A lot of work goes into volunteering for an organization and promoting a cause, but there are many things that you can do to help promote atheism!
First, be positive! There’s nothing worse than a negative atheist, mostly because that is exactly the atheist stereotype: doom and gloom, mean-spirited, angry with the world. So don’t be! It is actually that easy. Being positive is a choice. Now, I can already hear it; so if there’s a medical cause for your orneriness, please go see a doctor. (No hoo-doo vitamin therapy over here, unless it’s used in conjunction with an MD.) But seriously, other than that, you just need to shake it off. You will have a more enriched life if you are positive, and you will also help others have a better life just by giving them a smile every once in a while. Being a positive person puts a nice perspective on exactly what an atheist is: the world doesn’t fall apart without any gods, so prove that to people! (For those of you who haven’t heard the story, my blood type is B+. Awesome.) If you fall into the negativity trap, be aware of it, and make a conscious effort to stop yourself and at least be neutral. Watch how much better people respond to you. A wise man once told me “You can’t out-Hitchens Hitchens, so you might as well be nice.” He also said that I sound like Mary Poppins, which I totally acknowledge.
Be open-minded and willing. You won’t ever learn new things or meet new people without, at least at times, just going for it. You may surprise yourself concerning what you actually end up enjoying, and even if you don’t like the activity you tried or the people you met, at least you will have some concrete reasons from then on. Being open minded and willing to try out new things or meet new people will shatter another atheist stereotype: that we are all lonely, closed-minded, stubborn people. I know the first time I went out to try playing paintball, I thought it was going to be way out of my area of interest. (Read: I thought it was for hillbillies.) But after only one game, I realized that I really enjoyed it, even if I wasn’t going to be doing it frequently. Now I own my very own paintball face shield.
Share what you enjoy with others. Do you have a favorite hobby, bar, restaurant, subject you’re knowledgeable about, or anything else? It’s very easy to plan a Meet Up with Minnesota Atheists. Go to the Meet Up site, and you can click on any of the organizer’s names on the left side bar. Click on my name, if you like! You can email any organizers and tell them about your idea. Better yet, tell them you want to organize the event! (You can also always email firstname.lastname@example.org and someone will be there to help out.)
I know what you’re thinking: it’s scary to organize your first event. I won’t lie to you, it really is. When Vic and I organized our first “Pub Night: Think and Drink” for Southern Minnesota Atheists, I think we both had rocks in our stomach. What if no one shows up? What if people didn’t like it? What if people didn’t like us? What if they didn’t like each other? The list of worries went on and on.
What I have learned from organizing Meet Ups:
First, relax a little, it’s not necessarily much work. If it’s a hobby, topic or place that you love, chances are you’re already out doing it anyway. For example, Vic and I like to go fossil hunting in Lilydale Park, so what’s the difference if 30 people join us? We’ll just bring some informational print outs about the park and Minnesota Atheists, show everyone our favorite spots, and let them have at it. Pretty easy, and we know at the very least we’ll have fun!
Second, people will show up. I have come to embrace the idea that even if only one person shows up, that is enough for me. Our smallest Meet Up in Mankato to date had 9 people, so not a bad turnout!
Third and most importantly, some people will like it, some people won’t, some people will like each other, some people won’t, some people will like you, and some people won’t. That’s just how life is. Do your best to be accommodating, but even then, some people won’t be satisfied. (Of course, they will be if they’re thinking positively like they should!) Don’t let it get you down. You’re doing something fun, and it’s benefiting a lot of people.
Are you positive, open-minded, and willing? Come on out to a Meet Up to spend time and have some fun with your fellow freethinkers! Do you have an event idea? Email us your idea and we will help you! Are you ready to take the next step and organize your own event? Tell us! We will help you, and it is really a lot of fun. Make a difference, and advance atheism one fossil/beer/picnic/dinner/game night/book club/speech at a time!