By Stronger Now
So there I was, in a truck pulling a float in a christmas parade. A float celebrating the birth of Jesus, complete with a manger scene, and birthday cake no less. How did I get there, you ask? Well I'm really not sure. It seems like it would be against my volition to be pulling a float that was promoting Christianity, but I must say I was never really asked. I was conscripted by the Christian majority, whether I liked it or not.
I suppose I should bear the blame for this odd circumstance. After all, I could have put my foot down and refused to do any such thing. Of course that would have been tantamount to outing myself as an atheist and thereby calling my wife's worldview into question. For which she most certainly would have gotten blacklisted in the area and her little business would have went belly up in less than a month. Economic forces keep my wife from being her true self in the establishment that her business is set up in.
I dare say that monetary issues would be the least of our worries if word got out that there were an atheist in these hills! I can almost smell the torches burning. O.K., maybe not, but I would be really surprised if there were not some threats, and some difficulties at school for my kids, maybe a mean phone-call or two. The possibility of violence to my family is there, nonetheless.
So how did I get there? Well, it seems that if the majority holds a belief, it is easy for them to forget that not all will hold to that same belief. Especially when the non-believer is not vocal about their non-belief. It is a simple case of arrogance on their part. I was never asked, I was just voted the best man for the job. A job I didn't even know I was up for. My wife came home from work one day and said "Guess who's driving the float in the Christmas parade this weekend? That was two days before the event. My kids were already assigned to the candy throwing job on this thing. How could I disappoint them?
If I put my foot down and told them that I was an atheist I would have placed my wife in an uncomfortable position to say the least. It would have also furthered the stereotype of the evil atheist and his need to ruin the fun of the faithful in a most hateful and rude manner. Stereotypes seem to work well in keeping a person from dissenting.
I actually had fun. I love a parade. Watching kids run for tossed confections and seeing groups of strangers come out to wave and cheer. It was nice. Just for a little balance in it all, mind you, I would have given my left nut for a festivus pole or some such.
I might do it again next year if I'm asked or even just appointed. It's not like they were asking me to play Jesus in their passion play. I'd do that too, but things would be waaay different! The temptation would be too great. I wonder if I could make it out of the church alive? I almost hope I get the chance to find out.
This experience made me realize that I cannot expect to be left alone by Christians.
To offset this perceived minor injustice, I took it upon myself to seek out a local atheist organization. I gathered the courage to go to one of their meetings last night. The regulars here that know my story know this is a major step for me. I'll be going back to see this group again. I think it is time for me to step out of my cocoon and try to be the person that I hope to be.