Saturday, September 1, 2012

Step On Some Cracks

Someone recently asked in the atheist group I am a part of if we ever pander to theists we know when they lose loved ones.  I responded with:
Absolutely not. I refuse to do anything that makes it appear as if I think their beliefs are valid or worthy of my respect. Pandering to their beliefs does nothing but reinforce the foolish notion that their beliefs are required in the process of dealing with loss. I would rather be honest and show that it's possible to cope with difficult times as an adult should, without fairy tales.
This reminded me of something, that I often think about, from kindergarten.  
Step on a crack, break your mother's back
I'm sure most people reading this have heard that phrase.  Some of you maybe even avoided stepping on a crack at least once because of it.  I had classmates who said the phrase, actively avoided stepping on cracks because of it, and told others to do the same.  I responded in the only appropriate way I could think of.

I would purposely let them see me stepping on cracks.  I didn't make a big show of it, but I think I did call them stupid a time or two.  I thought this superstition was stupid.  I thought all superstition was stupid.  I was never ostracized for rejecting their superstition, and I think the willingness of people like me to challenge them is part of how they outgrew it.  

I think this part of my childhood is a good example of three things.

1.  It displays just how silly a thing otherwise intelligent people are capable of believing.  Sure, just about everyone outgrows that particular silly belief.  But it's really not much sillier than the beliefs many adults hold.

2.  It's my constant reminder of the damage religion can cause and how it sticks with you.  I think of it nearly every time I walk over cracks.  I didn't even believe the superstition, and it is still in my head nearly 30 years later.  I can only imagine what children from fundamentalist backgrounds go through.  It's part of why Recovering From Religion is the organization I support more than any other.

3.  It is one my favorite anecdotes to show what kind of atheist I am.  I could have played along with them or feigned belief.  Or I could have simply not participated and let go on believing this silly thing unchallenged a while longer.  But I was having none of that.  It was probably a harmless game to most of the kids.  But a few treated it as true and were attempting to dictate the behavior of the rest of us.  So I stepped on the cracks.

The world needs more of that.  Too many people use religion to force stupidity and hate upon society.  They would be far less able to do that if more of us would simply step on the cracks.  With no one stepping on the cracks, the foolish superstition runs the risk of persisting.  The more people not afraid to publicly step on the cracks, the more the believers are forced to keep their silly beliefs to themselves and to quietly avoid the cracks without bothering the rest of us about it.

No comments:

Post a Comment