It’s A Week again.
No, not Improper Capitalization of Indefinite Articles Week, but a call for quiet atheists to come out of the closet and change their facebook profile pictures to something like the image above, to remind the people in their lives that they know atheists and that we don’t eat babies. Just like last year, I’m having trouble getting too excited about the campaign.
If you’re not open about your atheism, by all means take the opportunity to come out (if the revelation isn’t going to put you in physical danger or get you kicked out of your house as a minor). But for a lot of us, A Week is superfluous. It’s hard for my friends to not notice I’m an atheist, since I post links to this blog with some regularity. Changing my profile pic or cover photo isn’t going to be a revelation to anyone on my friends list. And I can’t help but feel it would be wrong to rob them of my current cover photo:
So the question is, for those of who are out about our atheism, what’s the next task? For LGBT people, being out can feel like a constant responsibility to witness. Getting married to your gay partner? Well, you’d better never ever get divorced or do so much as fight in public, because when ever you go out as queer, you’re carrying our entire civil rights struggle with you.
It’s less clear what counts as a tactical error for an out atheist. One of the big stereotypes we seem to be trying to dispel is that you can’t be a moral person without a belief in a supernatural lawgiver (see the video below). That’s the driving force between collaborating specifically as atheists to do charitable work, instead of only doing it as individuals where our religious beliefs are less visible. I guess you could channel that into a week of charitable action, but, personally, I prefer to give money for other groups to use than to offer my unskilled labor for a few hours. (But I’m counting this as another ping on my new charitable giving plan).
What’s the next step, after you are visible enough to be a counterexample to the most implausible slanders? Well, when I’m making an effort to be out as a queer person, I’m essentially trying to get my interlocutor to expand their definition of ‘non-disordered human’ to include me. That attitude shift will probably spark other changes (bullying policy, marriage law, etc), but my most basic goal is for them to expand a group to include me, too.
When I’m being publicly atheist, my long-term goal isn’t to help atheists be tolerated (though I may take that on as a short-term goal). My goal is for everyone to be atheists. Except that doesn’t really mean very much, so I actually want for everyone to be virtue ethicists. Or even more precisely, I want everyone to be good, aggressive, loving philosophers who will catch me out in errors, so we can all get closer to the truth together.
But however you phrase it, my goals as an out atheist are a lot more intrusive and personal than my goals as an out bi girl. So coming out as a non-believer is a prelude (however necessary) to the main event. But I’m not exactly sure what that is. What do you think would be a good goal for an amped up A Week? I’d like to hear your suggested tactics in the comments.
Because my current plan is to use A Week as a reminder to do some necessary housekeeping on the blog, in addition to the normal schedule of posting. (Spring cleaning is so much more tolerable when it doesn’t involve physical exertion).