When I practiced witchcraft, this was a popular adage: “Do no harm. Take no shit.” And yours truly threw down a lot of hell on those who tried to do harm and stir shit. There is nothing wrong with keeping boundaries firm. Healthy boundaries are integral to a healthy mental state and life. So keep that allegorical circle around you. As an atheist, YOU have the right to go about life unharassed and unhindered. You own no one an explanation. “No” is a complete sentence. You don’t have a attend or entertain every argument you’re invited to. Like to debate and argue? That’s fine. But it should be on your terms, not the theist(s) who approaches at their convenience.
Knee-jerk atheists, responsible for the “angry atheist” stereotype that all of us have to deal with, are inclined to get their panties in a wad when I’ve said firm boundaries are imperative, and they should be respected. Bitches think I’m referring to the boundaries of religious people. They don’t enjoy the egg on their face when I correct them. I’m talking about us and our boundaries being respected. Misunderstanding a fellow atheist and reacting with a knee-jerk, emotional response instead asking for clarification, sends a red flag to fellow atheists that you’re potentially incapable of having any semblence of decent discussion. It’s also a signal to theists that you’re an easy target for badgering. And it’s a tell-tale sign healthy boundaries are lacking.
I live in region – the American South – that’s not exactly known for it’s empowerment of women, and I had to learn through trial and error that you can be too nice. There is nothing wrong with asserting yourself, nothing bad about saying: “That’s personal” or “You’re being inappropriate.” I do kindness first. But if I’m met with rudeness and belligerence, I end the contact/conversation. This goes for causal acquaintances as well as folks I’ve known for years, even extended family.
Religious people usually know when they’re being obnoxious. It’s one of their tactics. Therefore, I don’t validate them with the response they want. Like a spoiled brat, they’re accustomed to being accommodated in a world that makes excuses for religion, even after horrific tragedies like the Paris attacks of this past week. You are not required to accommodate or validate the religious/theists. One of my best lines: “We are not friends, and we’re not going to be friends. Go away.” This works particularly well on causal strangers that may be encountered at dinner parties or met via mutual acquaintances. It’s especially effective with busy-body women and creepy guys.
On the macro scale, secure and strict societal boundaries are very much needed in a time of rampant terrorism due to religion, namely Islam. The regressive left would have us all be self-flagellating apologists for our freedoms and recognition of human rights, specifically women rights. Western civilization must develop healthy, firm boundaries and uphold these boundaries. Yes, we help refugees. We offer shelter and aid as humanists should, but we do not tolerate the bigotry and hatred of the backwards culture and religion they’re fleeing. If a person flees repression and terrorism, they shouldn’t be bringing repression and terrorism with them. This is a logical expectation. If a refugee attempts to import their Bronze Age bigotry, they’re not a refugee. They’re an opportunist.
Don’t like bohemian cities and culture? Stay away from bohemian cities and culture. If a person, say someone who regularly utilizes a prayer rug, doesn’t like western customs, don’t re-locate to a western first-world country. I’m not going to wear a bedsheet; therefore, I have no travel plans to Iran or Saudi Arabia. It’s that simple for those of us who are logical, rational people. However, terrorists and many religious peoples are not logical or rational.
The micro often mirrors the macro. Let’s start asserting ourselves on a personal level. Hopefully, the global level will follow our example. If we stop allowing guilt and emotional responses to set our boundaries, many issues would be addressed more effectively and eventually solved. Let’s stop making excuses for bad behavior, bad traditions, and bigotry. Take away the get-out-of-jail free card from religion. And this starts with us atheists asserting and maintaining healthy boundaries with theists at the very personal and grassroots level.
(Sidenote: Let’s just call it as it is – females have a more difficult time erecting boundaries and fortifying our boundaries. Whether it’s biological, social, or cultural, girls and women are not taught to assert themselves in the same fashion as boys and men. This is another separate topic for another time, but worth a mention because I’ve noticed women are more prone to broken boundaries, which is often due to untimely emotional reactions. Furthermore, it’s women that often belittle the experiences and realities of other women. Ironically, this is part of a much larger reason why we still very much need feminism. Many of the better feminists I’ve encountered have been men.)