Ask Richard: Atheist in the Philippines Lonely for Freethinking Friends
- Found this online. Some members have already responded to the blog post.
I think this is a very common sentiment among new atheists here in our
Sent to you by Mike via Google Reader: Ask Richard: Atheist in the
Philippines Lonely for Freethinking Friends via Friendly Atheist by
Richard Wade on 9/16/10
I am a college student from the Philippines, a predominantly Catholic
country. I’m an “out” atheist. Mostly, I’m not being mistreated, and I
can tolerate the fact that Catholicism is such a big part of the
country’s culture. My problem is that in the city where I live, I am
alone in my beliefs, and sometimes it gets lonely.
My friends are all Catholics. Some of them claim to be genuinely
interested in what I have to say about religion, but then they would
ask me to stop once they feel threatened that their beliefs are getting
weaker. That leaves me keeping these “blasphemous” thoughts to myself.
Talking to internet strangers is nice, but it sure would be a lot nicer
if I had atheistic friends whom I can hang out with and share my
thoughts freely with. Alas, I don’t think I have a choice but to accept
this. So I have to ask:
How do I cope with the loneliness?
Dear P. Atheist,
Firstly, I think that you are lucky to have some Catholic friends who
will listen to you talk at all, even to the limited extent that they
do. You must be quite good at it. For them to listen until they reach
their threshold and begin to feel insecure says that you have a smooth
and skillful delivery. Keep that up. It’s good practice for your
persuasive skills, and you might be planting some seeds for free and
critical thinking that will sprout some day.
Even though you haven’t met any other atheists, don’t assume that you
are actually alone. There are probably several others in your city, but
they are hiding. You need a way to call out to them and to coax them
into meeting you. The Filipino Freethinkers is an active group that was
featured here on Friendly Atheist back in February of 2009. They appear
to be quite active. Contact them and if they’re too far away, ask their
advice about starting a branch in your city. Don’t be discouraged that
you start out by yourself. One member can eventually be two, then four…
I know that blogging and instant messaging with strangers can bring
some intellectual satisfaction, but it won’t provide the emotional
social fulfillment that face-to-face conversations do. One thing that
can help is video chat. When you establish friendships with online
people who are far away, begin to use a program like Google voice and
video chat or Skype so that you can see their faces while talking
directly with them. It will nurture your need for the complex facial
interaction that is so important to human beings. These strangers will
begin to matter to you, and you will matter to them.
As a college student, hopefully you are in a place where differing
ideas and viewpoints are freely exchanged. In a vital college or
university, that’s not just common, it’s expected. If your college does
not yet have a freethinkers, skeptics, humanists or atheists group,
start one. The faith-free folks are lurking there, just under the
surface, probably just as lonely as you. Maybe you could start a
Secular Student Alliance. Hemant…?
I found several websites about atheism in the Philippines, but some
have had no activity for quite a long time. Here are a few that at
least have had activity in 2010:
I am hoping that several atheists in the Philippines will pick up on
this post and will comment here with help and encouragement.
Finally, P. Atheist, remember that there is much more to you than your
atheism. You should also establish friendships that are based on the
several other things that are important to you. For instance, in
addition to being an atheist, I’m an amateur astronomer. I have several
friends who share that interest, and we seldom discuss atheism. I’m
also an artist. I have a couple of friends who share that interest, and
we never discuss atheism or astronomy. I also like hiking, fossil
hunting, theatre, and jazz. My fellow hikers, fossil hunters, theatre
buffs, and jazz lovers seldom discuss any of those other interests of
mine. There is some overlap, but I have no friends who share all of
those interests. I’m not lonely because I always have somebody with
whom I can do something. I don’t define myself narrowly as just one
thing, and I don’t mind that compartmentalization of my friends and our
So look at all the possibilities that surround you and use them all.
Make them all real, not just leaving them as potential. Don’t despair,
and don’t give up. Put effort into this, and I think you will get a
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