On Being an Example

We’ve all had those “talks” with our parents where they tell us to have a good attitude and be kind to others even when we don’t want to. Whenever I would have that talk with my mother, she would tell me to “act Christian.” I know that a large part of her reason for saying this is because, frankly, she believes that Christians are morally superior to non-Christians, but I like to think that there is another, better meaning behind this piece of advice. If the people I interact with know (or think they know) that I’m a Christian, then the way that I act will influence their perceptions of Christians and how Christians treat others.

Of course, I don’t think you could really tell anyone to “act Christian” or “act atheist” or “act liberal” or what have you, because as long as you’re a Christian, or an atheist, or a liberal, then anything that you do will be acting like one, because you are one. That being said, it is important that whatever group you identify with, you represent it well. If you are a Christian, you need to be kind. If you’re an atheist, you need to be kind. You never know when you might be the only Christian or the only atheist that someone knows. Of course your views and beliefs are important, but what is more important is how you represent those with your set of beliefs.

It’s hard not to group all atheists together or group all Christians together. Some are better than others, from both groups. One of the reasons that people dislike Christians is because among their religious demographic are people like Matt Walsh, the blogger who never hesitates to brutally judge anyone and everyone while using scripture as his weapon. People like timothyach and Tony Burgess are the ones who redeem Christianity by doing their best to see things from all sides and welcome those who don’t share their beliefs with open arms to their blogs and their discussions. Of course, there is a wide range of atheists as well, some better than others. YouTuber The Amazing Atheist, while I haven’t seen much of his content, strikes me as particularly hateful towards Christians and Christianity, being a disappointing example of all atheists. CosmicSkeptic (Alex J. O’Connor) is another atheist YouTuber from the other side of the spectrum of skeptics, being extremely humble, logical, and always (as his tagline goes) questioning everything without malice towards religion.

Whether you’re a blogger, a YouTuber, a pastor, a Christian parent, or a closet atheist, it is your responsibility to show others that no specific group has a monopoly on kindness or maturity. While it is difficult not to let our beliefs get the better of us, it is necessary that we can be civil in discussions and listen to every side of every story.


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22 Replies to “On Being an Example”

  1. Good post.

    I grew up with the golden rule (sort of) of, I quote my mother: “If you don’t have anything nice to say don’t say it all.” Of course, there are exceptions, but my mother never mentioned this.

    Fair enough on being kind. This should be the case no matter whether you are representing a group or not. And, your right that no one has a monopoly on kindness, nor should anyone.

    I try to respect all people and cats :-). I may not respect their beliefs, but using ad hominem attacks is just bad policy in any discussion.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I am forced to agree with you on Matt Walsh. Though I agree with most of his points, I wince at his tone. I’m grateful that we can both agree that sharing an aisle with harsh people is just part of life, and not an indictment on what we believe.

    Like

  3. I’ve found it hard, since letting people know I was an atheist, not to come across as a condescending arsehole from time to time. Sometimes it’s because I genuinely AM one. But sometimes it’s hard not to. For example, if someone posts on Facebook about how stupid evolution is and how can we possible have evolved “from monkeys”, I’ll correct them in a calm and measured way, hoping to broaden their understanding and opening their eyes a little to how wondrous the true story of our origins really is. But I think that people can feel intellectually intimidated when someone understands something they don’t quite grasp and can use scientific terms that they have misunderstood. It can come off as haughty. I think that half of the reason people find Dawkins so threatening is that he knows so much and talks so eloquently (and in an upper class English accent, no less!).

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  4. Wow, this is really great. I would say that you are one of the atheists that is very open to Christianity or religion or any beliefs regardless of the malice you have felt before and I thank you for that. This post was spot on.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Thanks for such a good article. I especially like your remark “whatever group you identify with, you represent it well” and the last paragraph “Whether you’re a blogger, a YouTuber, a pastor, a Christian parent, or a closet atheist, it is your responsibility to show others that no specific group has a monopoly on kindness or maturity. While it is difficult not to let our beliefs get the better of us, it is necessary that we can be civil in discussions and listen to every side of every story”. This is exactly what I try to promote in my articles also. It would be great if we all could live by this and accept one another with respect and kindness even in our differences.

    Liked by 3 people

  6. I’ve seen quite a bit of Amazing Atheist and he treats Islam and all other religions with as much disregard as he treats Christianity. Being blunt is his usual way of speaking, unaffected by his labelling as a liberal, or an anti feminist, or as an anti BLM

    The way I see it, you could be like Richard Dawkins, to the point, correct and sharp or like DeGrasse Tyson, who’s not only correct in his views but shows sensitivity towards your opinions as well. Neither of them are wrong, but have different effects. Personally, I use the Dawkins style, because I like butchering arguments with logic. Tyson is much too peaceful and requires too much patience.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I tend to do my best to avoid conflict and arguments altogether, because I don’t think they will end in anyone changing their mind, although I do love to read and watch them (especially if I do ever get sucked into an argument, so that I can stand my ground). I think that if I did have to choose one of those two styles, I would probably approach it more like DeGrasse Tyson, although I am a big fan of Dawkins.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Dawkins once said that they way he argues, he knows he isn’t changing his opponent’s views. However, he is changing the views of all those watching the debate. That’s why his method works for him; it influences people. The method won’t be effective if I use it, but it doesn’t demand much patience and understanding so I stick with it.

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  7. “Of course your views and beliefs are important, but what is more important is how you represent those with your set of beliefs.” I think that this is such an important statement. Oftentimes, especially thanks to the anonymity of the internet, clashes of opinion can degrade into the hostile lobbing of lingual hand grenades at one another. Your views and beliefs are important, and so is sharing them and engaging in conversation with people who don’t share them. But representing yourself and your ideas is important, too. How can you expect anyone to consider your argument if you insult their beliefs in the process?

    Beautiful post.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Oh wow. Thank you so much for the shout-out.

    I’m humbled and glad that you see me as a person who is doing their best to redeem Christianity.

    I believe that God doesn’t ask anyone to be perfect — He just asks us to try to be.

    So, that’s what I’m doing: Trying.

    I’m trying to be the light in the darkness that I believe Jesus is calling me to be.

    Thank you for all that you are doing on this blog, The Closet Atheist.

    I’m not saying that because of the shout-out, grateful though I am for it.

    I’m saying it because: Because of you, my perception of atheism has changed for the better.

    Before discovering your blog, a conversation I was having with a number of atheists on Reddit took a nasty turn. This led to me leaving Reddit — a decision I don’t regret — and negatively effecting my view of atheism.

    I knew that not all atheists were jerks. But seeing how much of a jerk atheists could be upset me.

    But: Thanks to you following my blog, I found your blog. And you’ve shown a side of atheism that I had never thought I would see.

    I am honored to know you — even if I just know the part of you that exists on WordPress.

    Thank you for all the good work you do on this blog.

    Thank you for changing my life for the better.

    Liked by 3 people

  9. I agree with you that anyone can be kind. Morality isn’t founded on religion, culture, or the law. Otherwise, not everyone would be able to behave morally.

    I don’t completely agree with the part where you say that people act like liberals, for example, because they’re liberals. I think people act like themselves first and happen to fall into certain groups. Sure, the two can be connected, but they don’t have to be.

    I love cooking and sewing, but it’s not because I’m a woman. I enjoy them because I like to express myself creatively and both hobbies allow me to create something without any broad guidelines or expectations.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I think that we’re on the same page but not communicating it in the same way. I agree with what you said: “I think people act like themselves first and happen to fall into certain groups.” I love cats, and I am an atheist, and in loving cats, I’m being myself, who is an atheist. I think that what I’m trying to say is that being an atheist doesn’t have an impact on my personality, so any personality traits I have are cohesive with atheism, because all of them are a part of me.

      Liked by 1 person

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