The line between diplomacy and cowardice is much finer than one would imagine. I walk it daily. We all do. It’s the grey area between what we honestly think and what we actually say. But my wife recently broke down such a barrier in her life. I was scared for her while still being so proud.
She admitted her apostasy to her devout, Catholic family. I never saw it coming. I knew her feelings about the church itself and its tenets, but all the way to disbelief in the divine? That was entirely through her own contemplation.
So I should move forward as well. One would think I’d have less inhibition about such things, as I have never been a believer. I think I believed in Santa Claus longer and more deeply than a god. After all, at least I had evidence of that once a year.
Yet for years my tongue has been bitten. I went through hoops for the sake of love. I lied when asked to swear oaths regarding Jesus and Satan in order to keep the peace with those I love and care about.
It’s a fine line between diplomacy and cowardice. All those nods and acknowledgements, even when my children started repeating things they’d been told that contradicted fully what is known about the world. I was as diplomatic as I could be.
And every moment of it I felt like a searing coward.
I have read stories of people coming out atheist and being ostracized by their families. Parents, siblings, friends, all suddenly turning on a person they loved unconditionally moments before. My wife is still waiting for the other shoe to drop and we continually prepare for serious discussions over what is passed through our children.
By all accounts, I should have the easiest time admitting how I see the world. I have never believed in God beyond any general contemplation on divinity. To say it more clearly for the majority to understand: I have never been a Christian. And I despise having to say as much. Not believing is the default.
We’re not born with a belief in anything. Early life is all food, sleep, and bitching about the lack of both. Even as adults, that’s a solid 80% of what we have going on as well.
I loathe defining myself as a negative. Hi, I’m Evan, and I’m not a German. Well, I have ancestors who were. And I learned a bit of German language… Yadda, yadda, yadda.
It’s ridiculous. I’m Evan, and I’m an American. I’m Humanist as well. People are naturally kind and open; it is other factors that turn them dark. We’ve developed amazing tools and art, and more tools and more art, all to the benefit of humanity. Things aren’t perfectly good and balanced now, but they’re progressively getting better. And knowing my own limitations and mortality is a powerful driver for making what comes after my death better. For that, for all our faults, I am humanist.
Most importantly, though, I am Evan.
And I will let diplomacy be the key to my honesty.