I find titles amusing. I know women that insist invitations are address to “Dr. & Mrs. So-and-so” because they are so proud to have married a Doctor. Technically, as a lawyer, I can add “Esquire” after my name. Doesn’t that sound ridiculously pretentious? Admit it—you would laugh if you saw someone do that!
And at times we join a group with a label. When people first started fighting abortions, they were “anti-abortionists.” But they did not like that “anti-.” It sounded so…I don’t know…negative. They became “Pro-Life.” Isn’t that better?
Now, the Pro-abortionists can’t exactly change their name to “anti-life,” can they? They have to be something “Pro” too! Thus entering “Pro-Choice.”
We are not “anti-war” but “pro-peace.” We are not “anti-government” but “Pro-reform.” Everybody against something is titled as being for something.
I am an atheist. Apparently that is an unpleasant word which contrives images of pitch forked ceremonies and evil plots to take over the world! (or at least introduce the insidious fiction of “evilution” while conspiring to eliminate creationism by the use of fossils and evidence, and research.)
We have had a President of the United States actually question whether a person with the title of “atheist” is qualified to be a citizen!
So atheists create other titles that are supposed to be more politically correct. Friendlier. Nicer. I love the term “Bright.” Not! Have we ever thought what that implies to the theist?
“Hi, I am a Bright, because I do not believe there is a god.
“Well, I believe there is a God. That must make me a Dim. Or a Dumb. Or a Not-so-Bright.
I seriously cannot imagine a single theist getting warm fuzzy feelings over being juxtaposed to a “Bright” as compared to an “atheist.”
We try “non-believer.” Or “skeptic.” And one term that comes out is “free-thinker.”
A word made up of two words, “free” and “think.” Both very popular words.
Everyone likes “Free:”
“Live Free or Die.”
“Buy one, get one Free.”
What a nice, pleasant word. And “think” is just as grand;
“After further thought…”
“Think before you speak.”
“I didn’t think this through.”
Who wouldn’t want to be a “Free-thinker”?
Again, though, what of those persons who dare to question a free-thinker? Clearly they must either be restricted, or not thinking or (gasp!) both! Because once a person is a free-thinker, anyone who dares question their position has obviously not got their stuff together.
Oh, I get what “free-thinking” is all about. Once we were restricted to a certain way of considering the world, and now we think differently. But are we any “freer”? Are we not just as restricted as before?
On one level, I could possibly be convinced there is a god of some sort. Perhaps I can claim a sense of more free thinking in that regard. On another, I could not ever be convinced the God proposed by Fundamentalist Christianity exists. In that regard I have become more restricted.
Look, here is the reality. We ALL think. Yes, it can seem at times we see some really REALLY stupid things, but for the most part people have even thought the stupid things through. It just didn’t turn out the way they planned.
We all have thoughts that are free. We all have thoughts that are restricted. There are things we accept, and things we reject. Those items may change over time, but in this moment, on this day—we are neither truly free, nor truly restricted.
Am I a free-thinker? Yep—but so are you.
I know people don’t always like titles. I know some titles have negative connotations. But all a title creates is a way for us to communicate more efficiently. If I say I am an “atheist,”—as horrible a title people may think that is—no further explanation is necessary. The other person is not left wondering how they ended up being dim, or a restricted non-thinker.