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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Gone

‘While people are struggling unhappily in the cities against the cruel authorities, a waterfall happily and cheerfully flows in the nature; there is happiness only if there is freedom!’- Mehmet Murat İldan

You could argue that a waterfall is also obeying laws. That it isn’t free at all. These are pictures I snapped from both the Brazillian and Argentinian side of the Iguazú Falls during my trip to South America.

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Have you ever watched a leaf or branch make such a journey down a fall? Within seconds it goes from the edge above to the plungepool below. The sheer size of this thing makes a roar, despite every droplet of water contributing for only a brief moment. Humans are very similar. Our lives are like a waterfall, we only experience life very briefly, we come, we go, the roar is made from the societies we build along the way. The jet engines and police sirens, the subways and the laughter. We contribute as individuals yet not enough to make the whole thing fall apart once our contribution has ended.

What makes every drop of water different? Nothing really. What makes us differ from one another? Do we differ that much? This is one reason why I left religion.

I can’t be too individual nor do I want to. I don’t mind the clothes I wear and the food I eat, enough to refrain from creating or finding my own. I need society as much as it needs me. I want to make the most of my life without completely adhering to everything that is expected of me. I am not an atheist to be rebellious. I do it because I cannot live my life like water during its descent, making up the numbers and fitting in. Life is too short to believe what you are told to and to enjoy life in the same fashion. Life is too beautiful to only consider enjoying after asking permission from oppressive, religious minds.

 

I can’t escape the end, I can look on from a distance until the day comes that I am eventually swept away with it. Enjoy life and every breath until then.

Clarity

‘He has made it quite clear to you that he exists. You are acting like a fool.’

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It was only when I uploaded the above image onto this blog post that I realised this wasn’t a photograph at all. It looks more like a painting. Did I take it and change the filter? Did I take a snap of a painting? I have many photos from a similar height and location, I am just unsure of this one. With the bright sunshine pouring onto the main road below and onto the roofs of every building around it, I wanted to associate this with the comment I received recently.

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Another that I found from the same day, it seems to be the image quality after upload. It adds something to the image I guess. But I don’t want to drift away from the original claim that I am a fool. Let’s get back to that.

The sun is shining.

Check.

I am aware that the sun is shining.

Check.

It would seem to be a foolish move to associate this with anything other than nature. Countless religions and civilizations have claimed this to be the work of their God. I am pretty damn sure, given the chance to converse with anyone from any of these belief systems, I would be considered a fool for not coming to the same conclusion as they did. The problem is, which God is making it clear that he exists? Amaterasu? Apollo? Mithras? Ra? Your God makes it as clear as any other of his or her existence. The problem is, he or she does not make it clear at all, or at least as clear as any other.

I will never be satisfied with such a God. If a deity can only prove his or her existence through nature, it is not clear that he or she exists. That is, unless your God looks like a yellow ball in the sky and requires you to wear sun-cream. I can claim that Ra is my God and already I have an argument of equal validity. It is obvious isn’t it? All you need to do is look up, just remember to put your shades on. He speaks to me, he hasn’t spoken to you? Maybe you aren’t listening. Pray harder.

The problem isn’t that I am foolish enough to ignore the signs, it is that the signs are so vague they can be associated with anything. Please do not be foolish enough to see signs when there aren’t any.

A God needs to clarify their own existence if they truly want to prove themselves against the competition. There is a reason why so many deities still exist on our small world, a lack of such clarity.

Superiority

For a species that believes it is superior, nature gives humans very little time to prove it and finds an incredible number of ways to wipe us out. I took this photo in a park in Rio, I’m unsure what tree it is although I was fascinated by the size of its roots. The people below aren’t exactly noticeable.

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We are the best. The most intelligent, or so I’m told. On many occasions it’s justified. Despite this the universe only gives us a mere few decades to prove our claims of superiority, nowhere near the lifespan of a bristlecone pine tree or a giant tortoise, the former outliving civilisations and countless beliefs systems with that. 

I don’t think it is depressing to think so, more humbling. We need to be humble, the more willing we are to accept this the less we will try to prove our worth by making false claims about our place in the universe.

I’m proud of my species, it’s just crazy to consider the sheer number of things that out-live us, without having a book dedicated to them either. 

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.