President’s Column: My Family of Cats
By Jeannette Watland
Christmas day saw me sitting around a table eating Dim Sum in a Chinese restaurant with about nine other atheists. At one point during the meal, one of the diners told the table that this has been the first Christmas in awhile that has actually meant something. I’m lucky enough to have a family that supports my atheism, but the sad reality is that many of us do not. Providing an alternative on a religious holiday normally shared with family not only gives us something to do when everyone else is out, but is also an example of community in Minnesota Atheists.
I recently had an email correspondence with a member who was dismayed at the apparent pride some atheists take in the “herding cats” mentality. Honestly, it dismays me too. I can understand the reasons people don’t like to organize. It can feel too much like church or other organized religions. People feel like they will lose individualism if they band together with a group. I can understand these things, but I still think the benefits of joining and participating in an atheist community outweigh the downfalls.
One of Minnesota Atheists’ missions is to educate the public on atheism. The more the public is educated the more we will build tolerance. If the public could see how many of us there actually are, and how normal we look, the stereotypes begin to break down. When we band together we can also make a larger wave in the world of politics. We are going to make more progress in fighting for the separation of church and state if we act as a community. Already our numbers at the Day of Reason are beginning to rival those of the Day of Prayer.
Finally, creating a close community is just in our human nature. Humans are social beings. It is good for us to be around other people. For many of us, being around other atheists is an invaluable experience. I love the Minnesota Atheist community and hope that every single one of our members has a chance to experience it. It is a place where we can discuss our lack of belief without fear of offending someone. We can come out of the atheist closet and be ourselves without fearing discrimination. We baby-sit each others children, celebrate weddings, welcome new babies, comfort the sick and lonely, and mourn the loss of members. We maintain our individualism and offer our services to benefit others. I am truly proud to be part of such a caring group of people. Minnesota Atheists has become like a second family to me. I hope it means as much to our members as it does to me.