This pair of books by Emily White came to me at a strange time. Earlier this year I came down with a very weird case of laryngitis. Part allergic reaction/part bizarre cold (it’s entirely possible that I came into contact with Covid-19 before the official counts started), I was without a usable voice for six weeks, during which time I tried to go out and be social but failed miserably because I couldn’t talk loud enough to take part in any kind of conversation. I was feeling isolated and lonely (I’ve never found social media to be particularly “social”) and picked up Lonely thinking it might offer some solutions.
White was a Toronto environmental lawyer who left her practice to become a writer. Her loneliness did not stem from actually being alone with no social supports, however. She had family, friends, co-workers, and neighbours, but felt disconnected from all of them. She explores the differences (and similarities) between depression and loneliness, as well as the stigma attached to the admission of being lonely in an extroverted world. Ultimately she deals with her loneliness by getting out into the world where she meets her partner and is able to move away from the anxiety that has crippled her.
I was gleeful at the news yesterday that the TTC had approved the atheist bus ads that have been running in the UK. And then less impressed by the response from both the media and the public.
How is it that when a Christian organization runs an ad on a bus, we’re all supposed to accept it as their right to free speech, yet when an ad runs supporting another belief system, it’s “disgusting”? The TTC has stated that it would be illegal for them to refuse the ads but added a caveat that they would consider removing them “if there are complaints”. And how long will it take before complaints are filed?
The group behind the ads, the Freethought Association of Canada, simply wants to open a dialogue, yet so many people have already come out with small-minded comments that preclude any kind of conversation.
Which, from a personal standpoint, is part of why I became an atheist in the first place. Because most organized religions seem unable to accept differing points of view, and have been brainwashed taught into thinking that only their version is the right one, that only the people who follow their doctrine will make it to the afterlife – without even knowing if an afterlife exists. They can’t all be right, can they? The logical conclusion then (and note I’m stressing the word logical here) is that the probably isn’t a God. And yet – the world hasn’t stopped spinning. Imagine that.