Tuesday, September 30, 2008

That Little Letter

There's a big stupid 'A' on my blog now. Perhaps you noticed it.

I have too many damn "causes" and it's totally messing up the aesthetics of my blog. Look at all that red and blue over there. How am I supposed to get that to match green and brown? Hopefully these things will get more attention simply by being ugly.

Anyway, as opposed to the first two, this newest one requires some explanation slash apology. (Actually, the "Constitution Voter" one requires an apology too: I'm being a hypocrite here since I never really planned on voting.) Along with this letter, I actually have to do a bit of soul-searching. You may think I'm being melodramatic here, and I am (as usual) but this 'A' touches upon so much subjects and topics, that I feel it's impossible to cover them all today.

To clear a few things up, the 'A' is a symbol for "atheist". You'll note, it is not an abbreviation for "atheist", and that makes a big difference.

To illuminate the difference: an abbreviation stands in for a word, a symbol stands in for an idea. Words can be open to interpretation, under most circumstances; symbols often are not. For example, the word "gov't" is short for "government", which has meant a hell of a lot of things over the centuries. Are we talking about a Plutocracy or democracy here? Benign or evil? So on and so forth. The presidential seal, however, is not nearly as open to interpretation. We know that we're talking about the executive office of the United States of America, a country rooted in 13 states, equally dedicated to the causes of both war and peace, but favoring peace. If portrayed in any other way (Eagle holding 13 donuts, for example) this symbol would be just a picture and the same is true for the 'A' in the upper-right hand corner of my blog. It is not a statement of fact ("I am an atheist"). It is a declaration of ideals ("I uphold [whatever]").

To be perfectly honest, I'm not a fan of personally attaching myself to any symbols. If that sounds like an unusual thing to be opposed to, that's because it is, and I think people don't really consider these types of things as often as I do, because I have too much free time, apparently.

I like to think of the age of 17 as being the beginning of my "thinking age". I held opinions before I hit that age, of course, but I didn't always form decent arguments for them until this time. Since then, I've held so many different and contradictory beliefs, often at the same time, that it's been hard to attach myself to any one very strongly. To hear my collective thoughts on the Iraq War for the past five years would sound like the ramblings of a crazy person. Any subject I've thought or talked about really, when coalesced into one concise form, would be disagree with itself, start to finish. And that's ok.

I don't think many people are going to fight with me on this one, but it's a good thing to keep one's beliefs fluid. You don't want (or need) to get locked into a particular way of thinking; That's called dogmatism, ladies and germs, and it's a terrible thing. I've taken it to the extreme though, so I hate identifying myself with any groups, any labels (To this day, I refuse to apply "pro-choice" or "pro-life" to myself, despite an obvious preference for the former) or any symbols (no tattoos, ma!)

That's almost a sad thing, because during the past six years, I've never given up on atheism. I have altered it though, greatly and dramatically, over the years. Those of you "in-the-know" on the subject of atheism are aware that you can actually refer to an atheist as several different things: a freethinker, a bright, a secular humanist. I refuse to apply any of these to myself (they seem so snobbish, for one), because I reserve the right to change my thoughts on what atheism is, what atheism does and what atheism should do, and I have changed my thoughts on those things, many, many times.

To drive the point home a bit further, now would be a good time to point out this post I did on how I feel about following groups.

So, to get back to that 'A', what the hell is it doing up there?

More on this tomorrow. (That is not true. I'm totally going to forget about finishing this.)
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