Proximity

It is an annual tradition that the Red Arrows perform a flyover of the quayside to signify the start of the Great North Run, the largest half marathon in the world. The Red Arrows make me happy. I feel a great sense of pride and awe when they do their thing, one year rudely waking me up as I slept in, the sound of those engines so close to the ground had me jump up in sheer panic thinking the building was collapsing. I checked the flight path this time around, instead of following the River Tyne from the west and flying over the famous seven bridges, they flew in formation from the north and directly over what would have been busy traffic had it not been for the 57,000 runners. I made it with a minute to spare (seriously, I was exhausted) to record them flying over. The above image isn’t a photograph but a screenshot of my video.

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I pass this hotel everyday. Sadly, two teenage employees went to Manchester on the 22nd of this month and did not make it home. I did not know them. I do however know two people that did make it back home safely. To think that world leaders and international superstars had these people in their thoughts in the past couple days is pretty surreal. As I have said previously with similar experiences, I am unsure whether its a sign of the times or spending longer on this planet that I feel such stories are seemingly closer to home.

I will be the first to admit I am incredibly lucky to live in a nation with relative peace and security. In no way do I believe otherwise. Some regions of Earth experience similar atrocities with relentlessness frequency and I can only attempt to fathom such hardships. This does not mean that I want to play down the severity of the losses experienced in Manchester, nor do I want to pretend I have no concerns of the potential for an increasing number of tragedies within the UK and Europe.

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The same building can be seen above, between the Sage on the left and the Tyne Bridge in the center. I feel this building will be a constant reminder that terror is becoming more of a norm, paired with the heavy armed presence at every busy venue this week. I want to talk about that. The fact that I had rarely seen officers with guns growing up and now it looks like my children will grow up feeling strange if they don’t see armed police.

Strangely, the more attacks I hear of the more I am forced to respect religion or be labeled a bigot. The more I want to talk about the perils of blind faith in the 21st century I can’t without people losing it, and I’m finding more and more reasons to do so. Saying that, I live in one of only a handful of nations in which we can speak out as atheists freely. Most people here are non-religious, with a reeaaallly big urge to hug theism when religion demonstrates a hatred for diversity and a desire for death. I won’t blame a whole religion, just the aspects that deserve it. I will make the most of life in a non religious country to speak up about a religion that I guarantee so many people would do too given the chance. If flogging, beating, murder, honour killings, prison time, torture and slavery weren’t repercussions for questioning reality for some people, I would have a lot more time for religion. Millions more would have time to be free.

I don’t want the light to go out on free speech. I want to see red, white and blue trailed in the air from the Red Arrows, not lighting up the Eiffel Tower or Empire State Building in sympathy after another attack. This of course is how I feel about every nation, I can only talk of mine. I trust that many of you are doing a great job fighting similar battles, keep fighting.

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Uprising

This blog is my punching bag. Instead of unleashing my thoughts and views onto social media accounts, I wanted to find a community that actually seeks similar conversation.

Thankfully I have found that here.

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I have nothing against social media, other than it’s ability to draw me into endless scrolling. It is the escape that so many people need in communities that would not accept them otherwise. It is the place in which certain people can be heard or want to finally have a voice without worrying about a backlash.

I have seen so many people defend religion in the aftermath of events. Lets not blame every theist for religious violence but what about the instances in which such criticism is justified? Religion cannot be moral all of the time. Lets take into account the millions of people suffering right now as you read this sentence. Those without rights, those punished for not abiding by controlling religious laws whether they want to or not. The slaughter of humanist bloggers and the enslaving of schoolgirls, the homosexuals thrown from rooftops and women punished for being raped. This is where my priorities lie. I do not mind offending those that aren’t exposed to such lives if it makes us think about the real victims. Those that aren’t offended when I tell them their beliefs are false because they are too busy being forced to believe.

Lets remember that an Arabic translation of The God Delusion has been downloaded over ten million times online. Thirty percent of downloads in Saudi Arabia alone. That is a shit tonne of underground reading.

I personally cannot wait for this atheist uprising, sadly I won’t live to see the year 2567.

I hope they party hard.

Tastes

I want to enjoy life as much as this lady is enjoying food. Have you ever seen so much joy?

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I admit that I was a little apprehensive when on my first visit to an Islamic nation. I did not know how much I would stand out nor what I would do that may be considered rude or disrespectful. Can I have a beer in public? Can I wear shorts? Not that I feel this should be the case, I have made it clear in previous blog posts that we are a world full of petty people that are easily offended. If I want a beer in public, why can’t I? Nations such as Saudi Arabia carry heavy punishments for smuggling or drinking alcohol in public, with public flogging or even the death sentence used as punishment. When sipping a beer is worse than flogging the drinker, I remember why I blog.

Malaysia did a great job of putting my mind at rest. Despite the obvious religious influence I went about my day as I would in the UK without turning any heads. Even in the areas in which I did not see another Westerner, it was as if I was invisible, in a good way. No one looked at me as any different or as an outsider. I walked around the great food stalls and enjoyed what was different about myself and the citizens of this beautiful nation.

Is it arrogant desire a free pass around nations without worry? I personally do not think so. If my tastes are different, great. If yours are too, fantastic. As long as we can address when our personal tastes affect the welfare of others. Sadly, I feel religion gets in the way of such discussion. Religious morality has already been decided. The words won’t change on the pages of scripture, just interpretations. This is why I left scripture behind, it made my life easier.

Too often I encounter the argument that without religion, morality goes out of the window. What morality? I hear of death and destruction everyday in a world made of up of an overwhelming amount of theists. This is conclusive proof that religion is not the recipe for a peaceful world. I don’t know how many times I have to walk past religious people without killing them before atheism is no longer a fear.

In Malaysia, atheism is illegal. It is also punishable by death, however I would need insider knowledge as to what lengths authorities go to prevent people leaving religion. I feel strange praising any nation that takes away my right to think. How am I expected to respect this world when so many regions would happily kill for a difference of opinion?

I try my best. Thankfully citizens are often more tolerant than the governments they are ruled by, thank you for that.

 

 

Bliss

‘At what age do you think it is appropriate to inform your children that they have no legitimate purpose in life and that no matter what they do it will be for nothing?’

I have sympathy for anyone that possesses such pessimism when contending my world view. If a road has an end, why shouldn’t I enjoy the ride?
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Do such parents use the same logic when they are watching a movie or reading a book? Playing in a water park or listening to an album? All of these fun activities have an ending, an expiration date. I would never be selfish enough to tell my children, if I do one day have children, to refrain from enjoying our precious time on earth because one day it will be gone. If anything, each splash in the water park will be cherished greatly. I have more reasons to take my children places. To be that hurt by such a prospect that you inflict negativity onto your children, that is a very shitty move.

Be a better parent than that. Maybe then children won’t have to worry about what their parents think and of their own personal choices in life. Sadly, too many adults punish children for not fitting into the family ‘criteria’.

Your preferred view of this world will not effect reality but if you let your children be free to make their own decisions, their lives may one day change our reality for the better.

Fooled

Don’t be lied to. It’s a pretty impossible task as the recipient, yet you are able to limit the chances by filtering out the right people from your life.

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Photo credit: Kristina Flour- Unsplash.
‘By intention, atheists have taken it upon themselves to militantly enforce their dispirited worldview upon the rest of us.’

I am yet to turn on the news to a story proving this claim. If religious fundamentalism wasn’t so rife, atheism wouldn’t be so opposing. When another Bangladeshi blogger is hacked to death in the street, the perception of morality is turned on its head once again. It’s a great shame that any criticism of religious violence is seen as immoral. I see people lying about the dangers of atheism daily and I know to not take such claims seriously. I also know when it is done for the benefit of the liar.

No-one is being threatened by atheism. If you are homophobic, against women’s rights, or against blasphemy maybe your beliefs are indeed under an attack, an attack looking for equality. If you do feel threatened, do you assume you are God? If you choose to take offence on behalf of God, consider your reasons for doing so. Leave the worry to God. You’re the employee that was never employed. Take off the name badge and work for yourself.

The truth will set you free, it’s a shame so many people desire divine guidance that creates such divide between people.

 

Priorities

The clock barely struck noon. As I ordered I wondered if it was too early for such large quantities of meat, at just £9.50 for two courses I was going to give this great Turkish restaurant my best shot. I spent late morning/early afternoon with my mum, I need to make family time when I can. September is just around the corner, relatively speaking.

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I have realised after the loss of my dad that family time cannot be a burden. I used to take it for granted, only for a great part of it to be taken from me without much warning. Three months to be exact. I have started to cherish the family arguments and fall outs a lot more, these in turn have become few and far between. We spend much more time making time of value, it is a great shame that we sometimes learn lessons after the test.

I have also learned that as far as I may search for someone that shares my core beliefs and ideologies, the ones bringing me up may be the best people to speak to. I may spend my whole life looking for someone that understands me as well as my family. Some people do not have this, a huge reason as to why I blog. I hear of family members being disowned or shunned out by family for thinking differently, I cannot believe this is a reality so many have to face. The irony of being an atheist is that despite my appreciation for stars forming the beings that brought me into this world and proving shelter and care, if I was born at the wrong time and into the wrong family, they may punish me for coming to such a conclusion. The love of a parent perceived from a scientific perspective is too much for some parents, rejecting a religious outlook can lead to a complete reversal of such love, whether it be abandonment or even murder. This terrifies me. The fact that some people on earth can show love until you openly practice a separate belief… If this love can be taken so quickly, was the love there at all?

I thank my family, those still with me and the ones that aren’t, for allowing me to come to my own conclusions. You are the tolerant heroes I need in an intolerant world.

Fate

We have a choice, do what we are told to do or face the consequences. The most tragic aspect of all is that we believe this is a choice at all. You can give the bully your pocket money or don’t. If he really cared about your right to choose, his fist wouldn’t be clenched.

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Am I really enjoying my right to live a life without religion if I am aware of the supposed repercussions?

‘See, you do have a right to reject God, you are doing it right now.’… I hear echoed without diminishing. That may be the case, but am I content with so many varying beliefs about my fate? How could I? How can I be fooled by this illusion of choice? This is supposed to be free will? I don’t like to be swayed by false liberties.

I am not an idiot, even if my opinionated, rebellious actions seem to contradict this. If I cannot see the end of the road, I know it is there. I reject the judgement awaiting me on the horizon not because I struggle to comprehend that the horizon will one day be in touching distance, but because I think of the day when the horizon is in front of me constantly. What better way to avoid the end of the road than to step off it completely and focus my life on what makes me happy instead of what makes me fearful.

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