Millions of Canadians are quarantined or self-isolating for the next week or two to slow down the spread of COVID-19. While we’re stuck in our homes, I thought it would be a good idea to get to know Canadian atheists.
I don’t think most Canadian atheists have a public voice that really speaks for them. The first problem is that there is a dire shortage of Canadian atheist voices in Canadian media and politics. (There is a dire shortage of representation for a number of huge chunks of the Canadian population in Canadian media and politics, but that’s another day’s problem.)
But even those few Canadian atheist voices that do manage to get some volume tend to be the same small group of people, and they’re generally the rabble-rousers whose business is built on saying shocking and offensive things about religion and religious people – and, yes, usually mostly about Islam and Muslims. They’re not really representative of the average Canadian atheist, who surveys suggest tends to be very progressive, and very tolerant of diversity.
I’ve always wanted to get to the heart of Canadian atheism. I’ve always wanted to talk to real Canadian atheists, and give their voices a chance to be heard.
Well… now seems like a good time. With so many Canadians stuck in self-isolation, practising social distancing, a lot of people have a lot of extra time on their hands. Plus, this is a neat way to make sure that we still stay socially connected, even while we practice physical distancing.
So I’m reaching out to Canadian atheists. Not the big shot, public figures, or heads of organizations, or anything like that—though they’re more than welcome to participate; I’d love to hear from them, too. No, I’d like to hear from… “average Joe/Jane/Jamie” Canadian atheists. What about? Anything! Whatever’s on your mind! What do you care about?
I get that most people don’t really have a topic loaded and ready to chat about at length. Hell, I’ve gotten a lot of offers to go on podcasts and such, and have always turned them down because… what the hell am I going to talk about for 30 minutes (or an hour!)? “A-yup, still no gods. Wait! Wait, hold on!… Nope, false alarm. Still no gods. Er, how are we for time now?”
So what I’m envisioning is not interviews, but rather free-form discussions. We’ll just… chat… about whatever you care about. It will be less like a formal interview, and more like a couple of people making small talk at a party. You can think of it like that, or you can think of it as something like Speaker’s Corner, where you’ve been given the soap box, and can use the opportunity to make a political statement, get a pet peeve off your chest, or, hell, just share some talent you have.
Want some suggestions of what to talk about? Well, how about…:
Tell me your feelings about atheism in Canada. What does it feel like to be an atheist in Canada, particularly wherever you are. Are there any challenges you face? Is there anything you wish were true that might make being an atheist a happier experience – like maybe you wish people understood atheism a bit better, or perhaps there was less association between religion and morality?
What’s it like relating with the people around you as an atheist? Is it hard getting along with religious people? Why?
What are your opinions about the intersection of atheism and politics? Do you think atheists have any political representation in Canada? Do you think we need it? What are the political issues that matter most to you as an atheist?
What are the issues you care about most as an atheist? What do you think the atheist community should be talking about more/less? Climate change? Social justice issues? What do you think about the current state of the Canadian atheist community?
What do you think about atheist representation in popular media? Are there any atheist characters you really like in film, television, books, comics… anything? Is there anything you’d like to see?
Is there any media—especially Canadian media—that you really think Canadian atheists need to check out? Perhaps there’s book, or film, or something that really impacted you as an atheist, or that really speaks to something that matters to you as an atheist.
Who are you? How did you become an atheist? What does being an atheist mean to you—is it part of your identity? How does your atheism make you you?
As I said, these would just be very informal chats, and then I’ll edit them (only for, brevity, clarity, spelling, and stuff—but if you feel my edit has misrepresented you, I will make a note of that, and share whatever context you think was missing), and compile them into an article (or multiple articles) for Canadian Atheist. Everything will be completely anonymous, unless you choose otherwise.
So how do we do this? Well, if you’re interested, just contact me. There are a number of ways we can do this:
Twitter is one option. You can reach me @IndiInTheWired; either via a public tweet directed at me, or via a private DM.
If you’re old school, I’m on IRC. You can find me on the Rizon network. I’ll be in my personal channel
#indi, almost always with the nick
indi(always make sure whoever is using that nick has identified with NickServ before assuming it’s me!).
You can also contact me via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
You could even leave a comment on this post.
(Bear in mind that I’m not sitting in front of the computer 24/7. So I may not reply immediately.)
And I’m open to other options if you’d like. Just use one of the methods above to get in touch with me, and we’ll work it out.
So yeah, let’s hear from the real Canadian atheists, about whatever you want most to talk about.