Yesterday was Diwali, and I discovered that a surprisingly large section of the JNC population seems to revel in standing in front of some idol or the other while somebody lights a fire to something or the other and chants in pig-Latin. A bunch of us at the engineering unit think this is all just plain silly. It was even suggested to me that some atheist version of this idol-worship be given its own day; some time in January was suggested. I was told I would be appointed the priest.
I am all for an atheism day. I think it’s a perfectly good idea. I am actually all for atheism years, decades and centuries. I am, after all, the guy who made attempts, however impotent, to start some sort of Atheism Society at IITM.
I don’t, however, intend to stand in front of a poster of Richard Dawkins and chant something in, for lack of anything better, English. Or to garland some idol with slippers, a la a former CM of Tamil Nadu. This is not because I have a problem ‘disrespecting’ idols or pissing people off, but because it would be pointless – idols don’t care, and there are far simpler ways of mocking, ridiculing, annoying or irritating people. I don’t need props to do it.
Here’s a sample of what I thought should go in the ‘invitation’ for this Atheism day. This will get modified, and hopefully get better, as time goes along. For once, I mean and hope for this to come across as deliberate and thoughtful, and not as arrogant or vindictive:
Profess your atheism. Celebrate Atheism Day. February 11, 2011.
The 42nd day of 2011 seems to us to be as good a day as any other to profess, possibly in unison, our non-belief. Tell a friend why you don’t believe in an overlord pulling strings from the clouds. Do at least one good thing, this day. Something as simple as a kind word to a colleague you never got along with. Or perhaps you think some person or organisation is doing honourable work that should be supported. Perhaps we could list a few people or organisations who deserve all the help we can give them in their efforts to make somebody’s life better.
The remainder of the plan, happily, is to go about our days entirely as usual. We could meet for dinner in the mess hall, served – as usual – between 7:15 and 9:00 pm.[hr]
Hat tips, credits: Anubhab Roy, Navaneeth.