Happy Mani’s Day
Probably the most sobering moment for me as an atheist was to realize that my life is a one-shot. This is all I get, and I need to make the most of it. There has been a lot of attacks on atheism that courage might be difficult but I feel that atheists are actually the most courageous people in the world. We face mortality with a great deal of reality. We embrace what is true not what feels good.
For a long time, I kept my faith in the hope that an afterlife would give me a second shot. This a nice unprovable fiction. It feels good but it isn’t verifiably true and probably is nothing more than wishful thinking. Time to flip this and face my convictions with courage and ask the tough questions of life and accept the reality of the answers that are true.
Asatru gave me a definition of courage I accept and still embrace. The issue is Vikings no longer walk the earth in the old sense and Valhalla is just as much a fantasy story as heaven. If an atheist lays down his life, he probably does it for far greater reasons than the religious. The atheist is going to want his death to have some meaning, but more importantly their life as well. The atheist wants every moment to have purpose because once those moments are gone, they are gone. It takes a great deal of courage to live this way as well as die for something when you know that is the absolute finale.
To the Wolves and Ravens:
“Feed the Wolves, but Listen to the Ravens first.”
What I need is more of the courage of conviction. There is a battle in this world every single day and to do the right thing at the right time is a monumental task on a daily basis. The issue is having convictions that are about asking difficult questions and then accepting the answers. This a basic need of humankind but most people don’t have the courage to do this preferring to ask simple questions and accepting answers that comfort them rather than are genuinely true.
The reason I want courage is that truth has far more benefit, even when uncomfortable than lies. Delusion, such as the kind found in any form of tribalistic ideology, is never helpful and often ends in the suffering of a kind that has long term consequences. The truth may be painful at first, but if courageously embraced, it will lead to the prosperity of all types.
For me, courage starts with reason rather than feelings. It might be nice to die for a cause but one has no way of knowing if one’s death will actually be helpful. The only way to really determine this would be to think about it. Courage stemming from one’s rationally held convictions is far more likely to lead to something of value.
Of course, as an atheist, I pay far more attention to the lives of others. To their words and wisdom of age as they live. People who live a long time are not always wise, but if they have wisdom it is usually rationally evident and convicts the intuition. One knows wisdom when you hear it and it gives motivation as well as reason. Then all that is left is to act at the right time.
We don’t live in a world of such constant warfare that dying and going to Valhalla is an option like of old. Courage must express itself differently and in the case of an atheist, it is done by conviction and accepting of the truth regardless of feelings. The real battle one must have courage with at times is the one inside one’s own mind.
The Rabyd Skald – Wandering Soul, Bard, and Philosopher. The Grey Wayfarer.