Permanence. Few things in life have this quality. People change. Locations change. Hell, even strongly held beliefs change. As I’ve said previously, I was a Catholic and became an atheist. I don’t see myself going back. Ever.
I am proud of this change I have made. Proud of what it symbolizes. Proud of the wonderful community I’ve entered. Proud of the changes I hope I’ll soon be making in my local community.
I’ve written previously that I became an atheist in high school. It wasn’t until one event that I became more outspoken in my atheism. I attended the Reason Rally in 2012. My hope was to go to a fun event and listen to some people who I had grown to have a fondness for. I got to hear my favorite musician, Tim Minchin perform. In fact, while there he did my favorite artistic endeavor “Storm”. After standing in the rain, saying those words I had memorized, I thought nothing would top that. I love “Storm” and all that it signifies. I think it’s brilliant written and even more brilliantly performed. I was awestruck at the sense of community as we all said those words, similar to the feelings of patriotism when a large group sings the national anthem. I thought, at that time, nothing would top it. I got a video from my personal hero, Penn Jillette. I got to see, who some claim is my doppelganger, and someone I really respect, Adam Savage speak. I got to see a beloved comedian, Eddie Izzard, say some really impassioned words. I got to learn who Greta Christina was and have come to enjoy her writing. I got to see the Amazing Randi truly live up to his name. Then I got to see a man who I truly, deeply respect speak. And I was stunned at the way his words resonated with me.
The phrase that hit home with me the most was “Let no one who knows you, think that they don’t know an atheist.” That shook me to my core. Yeah, I was an atheist. Yes, my family and some of my friends knew. But I’m part of something larger now. And it was part of my responsibilty and duty to live up to those ideals. To share my point of view, in fact, the correct world view that this is no god. A simple, yet powerful statement. Everything I do, is because there is no god. I am a good person, period. No fear of punishment, no expectation of reward, good for goodness’ sake. I wanted to be a knowledgeable person that others who had doubts or mere questions could come to for said knowledge or advice. It was at that time I wanted an atheist tattoo. I wanted to proudly display that I am a man of reason, logic, and science. That my actions and thoughts were only determined by pure, testable facts. But…what to get?
I didn’t want to be antagonistic. “Piss Christ” or a picture of someone defecating on a bible, would get the point across but not the message I wanted to send. Something simple, but still recognizable. Something overt and not hidden. Not something regrettable in a few years time. I wanted a symbol of who I was and just how much being an atheist meant to me. I stewed awhile and came across the Out Campaign.
The Out Campaign was designed to create awareness about atheism and freethought. It borrowed a theme from “The Scarlet Letter” and its symbol is a red letter “A”. A symbol meant at one time to denote shame and in turn create solidarity. No longer will we be shamed into silence by being an atheist. We are out and proud and those days of hiding were no more. What better thing to “brand” oneself with? The fact that The Out Campaign was endorsed by Richard Dawkins and his foundation was just icing on the cake for me. Mr. Dawkins has done so much for my path to being an open atheist, that I felt this was easily the right decision for me.
I took awhile to decide when to get it. I got a few more tattoos in the interim, but the thought was always in the back of my mind. When I got my Doctor Who tattoo all I could think was “This could be my atheist one instead”.
After reading David Silverman’s book “Fighting God” I knew when it had to be done. I had made plans to attend the Reason Rally in 2016. With how much the event meant to me and how transformative it was, I knew that I wanted it done for the upcoming rally. So without further ado: