Sunday, December 22, 2013

Do atheists celebrate Christmas?

I've seen this question pop up a few times so I would like to address it.

To be clear, I don't really identify as an atheist per say, but I am close with several atheists although I myself am undecided. That being said, here's my answer to "Do atheists celebrate Christmas?"

As a non-christian (something I definitely am) married to an atheist (which he definitely is) we still celebrate Christmas.

In fact, my atheist husband is super excited about Christmas and has been blasting Christmas music since November 1st. All kinds of Christmas music, yes, even the religious songs.

You see, we still appreciate the tradition of christmas. We appreciate the "story" of christmas. We just believe it's only that- a story. Mankind has been entertained by fictional stories since. . . well. . . forever. Just because we believe the story is fiction doesn't mean we can't enjoy the myth and the tradition of the season.

That's why I have no problem with nativity scenes, Christmas hymns, talk of a savior etc. To me, it's just fiction. I realize it's much more than that to some people- that's their personal choice and belief and I respect that 100%.

However, because I don't believe it's *truth* does that mean I am not allowed to celebrate?

Not to mention, the Christmas holiday is so much more than celebrating the arrival of a savior. It's evolved into time spent being generous to others, time spent with family, a reminder to show those in our lives that we appreciate them and love them. I think it's wonderful to have a tradition where we celebrate the goodness in each other.

Are there atheists who don't celebrate Christmas? I'm sure. I've also met CHRISTIANS who don't celebrate Christmas. It's a personal choice for each individual to make regardless of whether they believe the nativity story is truth or fiction.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Happy Holidays VS Merry Christmas

It's that time of year.

Where people rant about the use of "Happy Holidays" verses "Merry Christmas"

I want to start out by saying, if you are offended when someone warmly wishes you a "Merry Christmas" you might want to take a step back and and think about why you are offended. If you don't celebrate Christmas, if you hate Christmas, if you think Christmas is evil. . . I still don't see why you would be angry that someone said something NICE to you. I think these people must be extremely rare as I have NEVER encountered one. Due to my type of employment, I have encountered many, many people. None of them have ever been offended by being wished "Merry Christmas!"

That being said, the potential of "offense" has never been expressed to me as the reason why many businesses have adopted the use of "Happy Holidays" instead. I haven't researched extensively, so I'm just sharing my own personal perspective on the issue.

Now what I HAVE seen, is people become offended by the use of "Happy Holidays!"

I've seen dozens of Facebook posts and daily have conversations that include statements like "I'm not going with any of this stupid PC crap. . . so I say Merry Christmas!!!!"

Personally, if someone wishes me well I will never take it negatively. If I'm wished a happy Hanukkah, happy Kwanzaa, happy Christmas, or whatever warm wish someone chooses to use- why on earth would I take that poorly? It would be silly. Even if I don't celebrate whatever holiday that may be, someone taking the time to say something nice to me is always appreciated.

However it seems there are those who would find it offensive if I wished them "happy holiday!"

Now, what if my motive behind this isn't to avoid "offending" anyone, but merely to include the fact that there are different holidays celebrated by different religions and nationalities and I would like to recognize them all with one greeting, offered in a warm and friendly manner?


Why is it bad for me to choose to say "Happy Holidays" instead of "Merry Christmas!" ?

I've wished many people Merry Christmas for years. None of them have ever been offended.

However, I'm a bit worried to use "Happy Holidays!" due to all the negativity surrounding that greeting by many people during this time of year.

I suppose someone could be offended that my use of "Merry Christmas!" doesn't include the other various holidays and that I'm elevating one holiday over another. Again, I feel this is silly. If Christmas is the holiday I celebrate and if I don't know which one you celebrate, why would anyone be mad that I send them a warm wish representing the holiday I personally celebrate?

This doesn't make sense. Again, if someone wished me "Happy Hanukkah!" I would smile and say "You too!"

I could be wrong, but to me, "Happy Holidays!" is NOT about negating Christmas. . . but rather about including ALL the holidays that ALL people celebrate this time of year. . . it's about being inclusive to EVERYONE-

It's about not EXCLUDING any holiday, or some feeble attempt to "not offend" anyone. 

But apparently that's a bad thing?

It's BAD to include the various holidays that people of different religions and beliefs celebrate?

I have yet to see anyone complain about "Merry Christmas" being offensive. I have not seen one Facebook post or heard one comment from anyone- ever- about this phrase being used on them as a negative thing.

Even now, being non religious and being around more non religious, or religions other than christianity than I ever have before in my life- I have yet to meet a person who would be offended if anyone wished them a "Merry Christmas!"

So I wonder. . . where did this originate?

And I'm curious if anyone else has noticed that in the absence of offense at "Merry Christmas!" There seems to be an overwhelming amount of people who get bent out of shape over "Happy Holidays!"?

If anyone takes the time to send a warm wish your way, regardless of what holiday it is- appreciate it for what it's worth.

Even if it's "Happy Holidays!"

And so my friends, no matter what holiday you celebrate or even if you don't celebrate any- I hope you enjoy this time. If you're with family or by yourself, I hope you are happy and well and enjoying yourself. I hope you are able to see the best of whatever situation you are in, to love yourself and love those around you.


Monday, December 2, 2013

Choices part 2

After my post "choices" a discussion ensued on my Facebook wall and in private conversation. I would like to address some of the points brought up:

But before I get on to those, I'd like to recommend you read two of my favorite articles on the subject:

How I lost faith in the pro-life movement- by Love Joy Feminism

Abstinence: A birth control method that's 100% effective?- by Love Joy Feminism

Very thought provoking, don't you agree? Moving on:

60% of miscarriages are believed to be due to chromosomal errors

Yes this is true. However a good portion of the time we don't know WHY it happens. There's been many, many cases of unexplained pregnancy loss. Also- this only accounts for bonafide miscarriages, NOT the fertilized eggs that never attach to the uterine wall (of which it is believed up for 50% are discarded for unknown reasons).

On this note, I would also like to share that many women need to have a D&C procedure after discovery of the loss of their pregnancy.

Sound familiar?

You guessed it. It's the exact same procedure used during an abortion.

I just find it incredibly ironic that as much as people keep trying to say spontaneous abortion and intentional abortion are so different- yet medically the treatment is the exact same. This "horrible" procedure that is supposed to scar and destroy your uterus? Turns out it's extremely helpful and necessary in many cases of spontaneous abortion. The pro life movement may want to consider that when spreading lies about abortion procedures to women facing unwanted pregnancies.

But a fetus has the right to life!

I agree. IF that fetus is viable without the aid of extraordinary measures, or the use of another persons body, I absolutely agree he/she is entitled to life.

However, I also believe in bodily autonomy. Here's a quote a pasted to my Facebook discussion:

"There’s a concept called bodily autonomy. It’s generally considered a human right. Bodily autonomy means a person has control over who or what uses their body, for what, and for how long. It’s why you can’t be forced to donate blood, tissues, or organs. Even if you’re dead. Even if you’d save or improve 20 lives. It’s why someone can’t touch you, have sex with you, or use your body in any way without your continuous consent.

A fetus is using someone’s body parts. Therefore under bodily autonomy, it is there by permission, not by right. It needs a person’s continuous consent. If they deny or withdraw consent, the pregnant person has a right to remove them from that moment. A fetus is equal in this regard because if I need someone else’s body parts to live, the also can legally deny me their use. 

By saying a fetus has a right to someone’s body parts until it’s born, despite the pregnant person’s wishes, you’re doing two things.

1.) Granting a fetus more rights to other people’s bodies than any born person.
2.) Awarding a pregnant person less rights to their body than a corpse"

Perhaps that seems harsh, but that is where I stand on the subject. A fetus does not have the right to use another persons body to further it's life without that persons continued consent. 

Spontaneous abortion (miscarriage) is NOT intentional- and in the case of choosing to have an abortion there is the matter of INTENT. Miscarriage and abortion are not the same thing.

I completely agree. They aren't exactly the same. However, the irony of my experience with spontaneous abortion is what it opened my eyes to the idea that I am OK with a woman choosing to experience an abortion if she does not want to be pregnant. 

In my case, I didn't get a choice. My body made that choice for me. Perhaps it was chromosomal error (this is what my doctor told me was the likely cause). But truly, I will never know. 

However, also in my case, I WANTED to be pregnant. I was TRYING to get pregnant I had the INTENT to get pregnant. I was THRILLED when I saw those two pink lines, indicating the presence of HCG in my body. . . but my body went on to reject that pregnancy. Despite my best attempts to be healthy and make it so my body would retain and fulfill that pregnancy, the opposite happened. 

What if I had been trying to avoid pregnancy? What if- instead of joy- I felt fear and terror upon seeing those two pink lines? What if my body decided- despite my attempts to prevent it- to become pregnant? What if, despite my best efforts, the opposite of what I wanted happened?

I fail to see how it would be so horribly different for me to decide to seek a medical procedure to remove my unwanted pregnancy- if I decided that was the best decision for myself at that present time. After all, if the tables were turned, I could find myself having the exact same procedure in the event of an unwanted miscarriage!

Yes, I realize they are different. However there's a level of irony that I experienced and it had a huge role in changing my views from excruciatingly pro life to being pro choice. I tried to articulate what brought about this very personal change in hopes I might be able to explain myself in an understandable manner. I hope that some were able to see that. 

But if people would just follow the bible/gods laws and only have sex within the confines of a marriage- this wouldn't be an issue at all!

You couldn't be more wrong. 

Even in the confines of a marriage, an unwanted pregnancy can occur. 

Trust me, after the delivery of both my children, I was TERRIFIED of getting pregnant shortly thereafter. I can assure you, that I'm not entirely sure if I would have wanted to keep a pregnancy that occurred within a month or two of delivering my child. I haven't been faced with that choice, so I don't know what I would choose. But I could see how being in that situation, I might just want to choose NOT to continue that very much so UNwanted pregnancy. 

I know I am not the first married woman who has been in a situation where I wanted to avoid pregnancy and where, if I had become pregnant, it would have very much been unwanted. 

Being married and engaging in sex for the purpose of intimacy does NOT mean you will want a pregnancy that may occur as a result of that sex. 

Our bodies don't always cooperate with what we want. They don't get pregnant when we want them to. They get rid of pregnancies that we want. They get pregnant when we DON'T want to be pregnant. 

So why, I ask, WHY is it that we must accept the "fate" of our bodies biological "decisions" NO MATTER WHAT?

Honestly, I feel it's the same as having the medical ability to prevent a miscarriage, but telling a women that she shouldn't intervene. Because that pregnancy was SUPPOSED to be lost. It wasn't SUPPOSED to continue. It was an act of god, or some other divine intervention (or "allowed" by god, however you choose to see it). 

If you advocate for no intervention in the natural outcome of a pregnancy, that applies to miscarriage too.

I was the result of an unwanted pregnancy and I wouldn't be here if my mother had chosen an abortion!

Likewise hitler would never have been born if HIS mother HAD chosen to have an abortion. 

The people who may or may not result from a pregnancy cannot really be used to argue for/against abortion. Honestly this whole concept makes my head spin. Here's a summary of what I posted on this subject on my Facebook:

The (supposed) person I "conceived" when I miscarried was lost. That person will never exist. Maybe that person was going to cure cancer. Maybe that person was the next Hitler. I will never know. 

Because I miscarried, I had the opportunity to conceive a different person- my son. My son wouldn't exist if that miscarriage had continued as a healthy pregnancy and delivery of a child. 

So I lost a person, but gained a person. If I had given birth to the person I lost, I wouldn't even know about the person I now have. Or any of the other hypothetical persons I may conceive. 

How can I mourn the "person" I lost when I have gained a person who would not exist if that loss had not occurred? 

Is your head spinning now too? Yeah. Do you get it? It's just one of those arguments that goes no where. 

Sometimes pregnancies result in awesome people being brought into this world. Sometimes they result in awful people being brought into this world. Let's just leave it at that. 

Just because adoption was the chosen option for many women in the event of their unwanted pregnancies does not mean every woman will want to make that choice. This isn't about always choosing abortion, this is about each woman having the opportunity to make the best choice for HERSELF, whether that be raising a child, adoption, or abortion.

But if you can have an abortion, why not kill living children?!

Please refer back to my clip on bodily autonomy. 

Living children do NOT require the use of another persons body to live. Therefore, killing them would be murder. 

Abortion is not murder anymore than refusing to donate you organs is murder. Yeah, you COULD extend a life, but ultimately who is allowed to use your body should be your choice. Therefore, even if a fetus is alive and is a person, deciding not to let that person use your body to continue his/her life is not murder. (Sidenote, I am not convinced that an embryo/early fetus is a live person. A living organism? Sure. But a live person? if this is the case, there's a lot of people being spontaneously aborted without intent which is way more horrific that the few intentional abortions by comparison.)

Sure you could argue that a random person in need of an organ donation is not the same as a fetus that was conceived and now dwelling inside your body as a result of sexual intercourse. 

So then I pose this question- by this logic- should we force people to donate their organs if they cause a car accident? Well, you knowingly engaged in an activity that may result in a car accident (driving). You may have done your best to prevent it, or you have have been lazy and stupid. Regardless, you caused an accident and now because of you, there are bodies that need organs to live. So we're going to legally force you to give your organs to those bodies. If you didn't want to be in that position, you shouldn't have taken the risk of driving. 

Same goes for the abstinence argument. "If you don't want to get pregnant, don't have sex" (that was my favorite pro life argument). 

Now I realize that's the same as saying "If you don't want to get in a car accident, don't drive/ride in a car!"

Doesn't make much sense, does it? In living day to day life and meeting our human needs, it's just not logical to stay locked in your home every day so you don't venture out into the world of the unknown where things can happen. . . like car accidents and unwanted pregnancies.

I hope this is an adequate rebuttal to the points brought up in the Facebook discussion that resulted from my original "choices" post. 

Again I would like to point out that whether or not it makes sense to you, I was merely sharing my own thoughts on the subject and what brought about my change from being so ready to throw pro life arguments in everyone's faces to now supporting the legal right of a woman to end her pregnancy. 

Overall, I've realized life just isn't as black and white as I once thought. And ultimately, it's not the governments job to make things illegal just because a religious group thinks it's wrong for everyone. 

If you are pro life and you think abortion is wrong, making it illegal is not going to help your cause. 

What WILL help your cause?

First off, making access to birth control easy and affordable as well as educating women (and men!) correctly about sex and what can result from it. This will result in reducing unwanted pregnancies which will then result in reducing abortion. 

Second, offer love and support (not shame) to mothers who conceive an unwanted pregnancy. And be willing to help support all the children who may result from these unwanted pregnancies. If you are truly pro life, it's not just about letting a fetus live. It's about making sure ALL children are cared for from birth to adulthood. Stop shaming people who need assistance. Stop shaming women who become pregnant outside of marriage or whatever you deem is the "right time" to get pregnant. 

Statistically, these are the things that will reduce abortion. It's already been proven. It works. 

Furthermore, if you believe life begins at conception, you ought to be a bit more concerned with the fact that many more "lives" are being lost every day than abortion could ever match- as a biological result. I'm not even talking about miscarriage, I'm talking about fertilized eggs that never implant and are washed away during the menstrual cycle. 

Perhaps you should offer more support to women who suffer miscarriages as well. Donate to research why miscarriage happens and how to prevent it. 

Ironically, the most support I received during my miscarriage was from a pro-choice friend. She offered to let me recuperate at her home, sent me a care package, and did so much more than the coined "I'll pray for you." (I do appreciate everyone's prayers, but she was by far the most supportive). It kind of made me scratch my head and wonder which side really supports "life".

Thank you for reading!