Last night, my screenwriting instructor, Barak Goldman, shared a note with our class. Said note was slid under his door after class the previous week, but the author didn’t care to sign it. He was exceptionally angered by this note. It was rather clear that the writer was not satisfied with the class, but chose to pin that frustration on Mr. Goldman rather than accepting that school is more about what time you put into it outside of class.
The good news, though, was that Mr. Goldman was not angered by the content of the note, but rather that the author didn’t care to sign it. The way he chose to share the note with our class actually makes me respect him, and his methods, more. I too take issue with people who don’t stand up for their beliefs and choose to, instead, stay anonymous.
Choosing not to believe in god is a very difficult choice that many people have made over the years, often setting that at odds with their families, friends, and so forth. This seemingly simple statement, “I am an atheist,” which only means “I do not believe in god,” is so destructive to a relationship with a believer that some people are unable to function in their presence. Of course, Fox News takes it upon themselves to ruin a great day, suggesting that Obama’s speech about uniting the nation, “… Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus, and non-believers,” is simply being offensive.
Instead of getting into a discussion about how ignorant Fox News is or how much listening to their show makes me nauseous, it is more important to address the issue at hand. Atheism is offensive, to a great many people, and it can make for some very unhappy discussion between family members. Atheism is offensive to a great many people, of most any religious view, because it stands directly opposed to their views of the world, and in many ways causes them to actually have to think…
It is a difficult and respect accumulating process, to be willing to stand up for your beliefs, regardless of the negative impact it may have on those around you. Opinions and Assholes have a lot in common, but no matter, if you have one you shouldn’t allow it to inhibit your ability to stand up for yourself. By definition we follow leaders, and where would we be if our leaders did not stand. I applaud everyone who is able to stand up amidst this bullshit.
Getting through the bullshit is tough. Standing up for one’s self is moderately difficult. Having an opinion is easy. Standing by ones opinion in the face of bullshit is what sets apart those who are respectful and deserving of our attention.
This is a spectrum, though, ranging from not saying anything at all, to thinking something, all the way up to standing by your values. I think Jon Stewart puts it best “If you don’t stick to your values when they’re being tested, they’re not values… they are hobbies!”