Thursday, December 15, 2011

Reason's Greetings in Utah

I've never really gotten into billboard and bus campaigns. Occasionally I will read blog posts about how a new atheist or skeptical billboard has gone up in some location. The stories are usually about how a billboard was vandalized or prohibited or allowed, or about how a skeptical or atheist group has raised or is raising money to erect another one.

Believe it or not, despite my love of ideas and conversation, and despite my skeptical blog on the Internet, I don't generally seek out religious discussion with people I hardly know. Or rather, I don't do it nearly as much as I did when I was religious. So billboard campaigns as a concept have never really done it for me. Dueling billboards seem too much like a shouting match, and I'm not interested in shouting.

But tonight something happened. I stepped off the train in Salt Lake City, Utah, and I saw this:

My first thought was, "Wow, that's awesome!"

My immediate second thought was, "What is that doing in Utah?"

And then it hit me. There are people like me here. Not in Ohio, not in Virginia, but here. There are enough people like me, apparently even in Utah, to put up a billboard and say, "Hey, we're here!" And I finally experienced what everyone says the billboards are there for: I felt like I was not alone.

Unexpectedly, tears came to my eyes. It felt like what the Christmas spirit is supposed to feel like. It was like hearing O Holy Night for the first time, but without any religious baggage. I wish I had a better way to describe it. It didn't feel like shouting, and it didn't feel like making a point. It just felt like a hug from someone who understands. Sometimes that's all you need, you know?

I know I'm not alone in Utah. There are groups of skeptics and atheists, and I have been to a few events and made some friends. But I'm not particularly close with anyone who shares my views. I don't attend events very often, and I don't hang out with anyone on a regular basis. Nearly everyone I know is religious. Being an atheist and a family man in Utah can be a very lonely road, and much of the time I do feel alone.

So thank you, FFRF. Thank you for reaching out. I didn't even know I needed that, but I really needed it. About the billboard campaigns... I think I get it now.


Saganist said...

Anyone in the area who wants to see this billboard, it's on 3300 South, facing west, just east of the Millcreek TRAX station. You can easily see it while sitting on the TRAX train as well.

Burk said...

These people you speak of... I have to meet these people. Most of the time I feel that there are only a few people without blinders on in the whole state.

I just might have to drive south and see this sign. Thanks for the tip.