Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Atheist Gardening

In times of trouble, what do atheists do? How do we cope with stress and strife? There are times when we wish we could just cry to our mommy about how the world has done us wrong. As adults, we are not in a position to do that. Some of us could not, even if we wanted to.

I have always thought that God is a parent figure to adults. I do not mean that as an insult to those who can have that. I often wish I had a powerful parental figure that I could lean on. Even just for emotional support. I know that they are deluding themselves. I cannot imagine being comforted by silly stories and bronze age superstition. I wish I could.

Adults look to others for support. I sought a strong woman who could support me. I have tried to create a web, a network of people who can help me when I stumble. Real help. Not just a void that I can fling my misery into. Real, live, solid people that listen but that also can advise and even act.

I think that is the secret. We realists need real support. I find it funny that the support we atheists need is the one thing that the 'atheist community' is lacking. Religion provides support from the magic man in the sky but, more pragmatically, from the other people. That is where the real support comes from, the people.

I hate to word it this way, but, I am grateful for the people I have found. Grateful. To who? I really don't know. But I am. I am thankful and grateful and feel blessed. Yep, I said it. I feel that the world has screwed me in a lot of ways but I have been able to surround myself with those who can, and do, support me. Maybe blessed is the wrong word. There is really no better one. Lucky? It is really no different. I guess language is another symptom of the superstitionalism we are surrounded with.

This is a love letter to the people who support and help me. In Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics, he uses a Greek word, Eudaimonia. This has been historically translated as 'happiness' or 'welfare'. Some have offered a different translation: flourishing. That is the translation that I like. I do not speak ancient Greek, but I like this translation.

Flourishing.

Aristotle talks about self cultivation. He advises we treat our lives like a garden. We need things. We need support from those around us. As a pragmatist Aristotle says we need money, but just enough to be comfortable. Once that is taken care of, we need people. Good, supportive people.

I would like to think the last couple of years have been a time to 'till my soil and buy fertilizer. I spent this time, divorce, anarchy, chaos and strife, breaking down my old paradigm. Destroy that which dragged me down. I have been preparing for the coming spring and the cornucopia of crops that my garden shall produce. I do not know what tomorrow brings but I am confident that with the seeds I possess and the soil I have chosen that my crop will be great.

Thank you to all the real, solid people who have supported me. I am an atheist and I have no invisible means of support. I have people. I have reality. I have tomorrow.

-Josh

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