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Atheists Giving Thanks

It’s apparently a popular meme, on Twitter anyway, for theists, usually Christians, to say that atheists have no one to thank for the good in their lives. Apparently, this cliché was made popular by a blogger Joey Nelson on his Spiritual Questions Blog, or so I learned from About. He wrote:

Perhaps, in an unguarded moment, an atheist will look up this Thanksgiving and say, “Thank you” to the One who has made their life possible. Otherwise, the thing about atheism is that you have no One to thank.

When I see this cliché, I laugh. On Thanksgiving, my family always has turkey dinner. It takes days to prepare, and of course we have to buy all of the food with our own money that we worked to earn. We make the food ourselves. Why should I tank anyone but ourselves? (to be fair, being a child, I didn’t contribute financially, and most of the work preparing the meal was done by my mother. So when I say “we”… ) And if I’m with my family, I need not look up, but across the table to thank the people who made my life possible.

Meanwhile, around the world, people continue to starve to death, and suffer in numerous other ways. Why the hell would I thank a god?

I remember, when attending my brother’s Marine Corps boot camp graduation, listening to the Chaplain speak over the microphone. He told everyone to bow their heads is prayer. I remember feeling so angry as I listened to him thank his god for the work of others. I was there that day because I was proud of my brother for HIS accomplishment, because it was his. Yet here there was a chaplain giving thanks and praise, not the new marines for their accomplishment, not the drill instructors for their training and leadership, but to his own god, his imaginary friend.

For me, this was a repeat episode. Different characters, different setting, same story. The same exact thing happened had two years earlier at my own graduation from Army Basic Training and again at our redeployment ceremony when we returned from Iraq. Each time, someone else was thanked for our own achievements, someone we were instructed to thank as well.
As if that itself wasn’t outrageous enough, this someone isn’t even real. I was, on each of these occasions, feeling very much insulted.

I, as an atheist was not left with no one to thank. I had my leadership, the soldiers to my left and right, my family and friends, and myself. Without religion, I was still able to thank someone, I just thanked the right people. I was able and willing to give credit where it was due. If you’re a believer and you’re happy about an occurrence other than a natural phenomenon (like weather, which requires no thanks) and you want to thank someone, ask yourself, is there really no human being responsible who it would be appropriate to thank?

Oh, and Happy Thanksgiving.

Looking Forward (MOVED!)

Woops! This blog post has moved. You can find it at its new home HERE.

Countdown To Tubal: Writing My Own Script (MOVED!)

Woops! This blog post has moved. You can find it at its new home HERE.

Soldiers, dogs, and bears, oh my!

Last week my company went up to North Cheyenne Canon Park for a nice change of scenery. Those of us who were able (many of us weren’t because of disabilities) went on a nice group hike up the mountain a piece. I had quite a lot of fun and met some other hikers from other platoons.

A few people laughed at me for bringing my backpack. “Mountain lions won’t attack you if they think you’re a turtle!” They weren’t laughing anymore when they needed somewhere to stow their sweaters and jackets as they warmed up.

Apart from my first aid kit and shed clothing layers, my backpack was mostly empty. I wanted to get used to hiking with it, since I haven’t been on a ruck march since AIT.

I really missed camelback. I had a side puch attached to the side of my pack where I kept my Gatorade, but it wasn’t as easy to reach as I had hoped it would be. At least I brought something though. Not everyone did.

Afterwards, we drove through the mountain (yes, through. Supposedly, those tunnels are haunted,) to the local dog park where we had a nice cookout (and I made a few canine friends.) I also learned, while there, that one of the legs to my brand new charcoal (because charcoal tastes better) grill is broken.

I also discovered that, to open a bear-proof garbage can, I should read the printed instructions lest I be laughed at. I must have been a bear in a former life. Lol.

There have been a few bear sightings in the area since I went by other people in the company. One was just a couple bears crossing the road. Not a big deal. The other story was more disturbing. Apparently, there were a couple of cubs hanging out near the trail I used, which is bad enough considering how mama bear would have reacted if she knew, but it get’s worse. People were dumb enough to feed them. If that doesn’t worry you, it should.

And I’m not much concerned about grizzlies as they don’t seem to inhabit this state anymore. And normally, I wouldn’t worry much about a black bear encounter either. They’re usually pretty skittish animals and would try to avoid people. However, even black bears can be dangerous, especially if they learn to associate people with food. I’m considering picking up some bear mace.

In any case, I’m looking forward to going again soon.

Lessons Learned:

  • Start small with hikes and light with gear.
  • Going up with make you out of breath, but it’s going down that will hurt.
  • Dress in layers and have a pack to keep any closed to remove.
  • Bring a drink, make sure it’s accessible.
  • Don’t count on others to bring a first-aid kit, bring your own. It’s better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it.
  • Watch your step because not everyone cleans up after their dogs.
  • Elk, at least the way it was grilled there, is impossible to eat. Oh, it tasted fine, but it was so tough no one could chew it.

Kids and Soldiers

In case anyone has missed it, I’m currently still a solider. Because of condition I developed in Iraq, I’m not able to do my job, which was TUAS Operator. Having started the medical board process, I’ve been moved to another unit so that my old unit, which is getting ready to deploy, can replace me. I’m now awaiting to see if I will be medically discharged, and whether or not I will receive medical retirement so that I may keep my health insurance.

In the mean time though, we’re far from idle. My new commander is a cheerful captain who I think strongly resembles and even sounds like a childhood friend of mine from back home (only taller, and in the Army.) He’s been giving us opportunities to volunteer withing the community, and I’m having a lot of fun.

This April, our company participated in an Easter egg hunt for underprivileged kids. I hear it was a lot of fun. Sadly, I could not attend myself as on the day of the event, I was just getting off a 24-hour staff duty shift at battalion. However, I did at least get to help stuff plastic eggs with treats.

Real meaning of Easter = candy.

Yesterday, our company helped with another event. We met with local school kids and their teachers at a park here on post. The children were separated into several groups, cycling through several station, not all of which I got to check out myself.

At one station, the children were introduced to large things that go boom (no live demonstrations, I’m afraid.) At another, military vehicles were on display for the kids to happily climb on. At each, the soldiers droned on about what the piece of equipment did and how it worked, blah, blah. MY company’s station was much better. We were, as I’ve said, a company of broken soldiers, mostly. People pending medical board. We didn’t have equipment pieces to blather on about, and all the better I think.

Ours, in my humble opinion, was the best station, and the ones the visiting students will remember the best. Tug-of-war!

There were several matches with each group, including the obligatory girls vs. boys matches, which sometimes the boys won and sometimes the girls won, depending on the group. There are the free for all matches, in which kids randomly pick what side to be in and soldiers capriciously join in as needed. But my favorite by far was kids vs. soldiers. The reason? Simple. The kids always WON. There is strength in numbers.

Oh, and one thing I found incredibly lulz worthy…

Kid: “Can those drive in volcanoes?”


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