Every time I go to the supermarket there is a guy selling socks in the parking lot. It’s not always the same guy, but he always says the same thing: “Hello, my friend…” and then elicits handouts with a combination of smiles, hand gestures and appeals to the goodness of god.
Sometimes I give him spare change. Once I gave him a banana, for which he seemed grateful. I’m sorry for his predicament (he’s likely a refugee from a war-torn place), but I try not to let myself become an easy target for people begging for money, either. Maybe this is a holdover from my New York days.
Today we had a brief conversation. It went like this: “Hello, my friend!”
“Ah, god is good, is he not?”
“No, he’s not. You should thank people who have helped you out, not god.”
“But doesn’t god help you, my friend?”
“He’s never done anything for me.”
“Why don’t you believe in god?” he asked.
“Because he doesn’t exist!” I said gleefully. I made sure to smile, too, so he could be sure that he was speaking to a happy atheist. (Maybe secretly I was hoping he’d take a swipe at me. To his credit, he didn’t.) Then we got in the car and drove off.
Later, I asked my wife if I’d been too hard on the man. She replied that he came from Africa and had seen who knows what horrors before embarking for Europe. He may have lost his family and possessions along the way. He’d probably come from a country where life was hell, and seen things that would make us shudder. My little quip wasn’t going to cause a breakdown in him.
Fair enough. I wasn’t going for that, anyway. I was just expressing mild outrage at the idea of a person who depends upon the kindness of strangers but can’t thank them directly. Instead, he thanks “god” – the same all powerful god, no doubt, who surveys his perpetually war-trashed African homeland with such an approving grin.
You can’t have one without the other, can you?
2 thoughts on “God does not exist!”
I used to simply smile and keep quiet at any god-related pronouncements – when I lived in Spain, talk of future endeavours was often met with an infuriating “si Dios quiere”, undoubtedly picked up from endless inshallah-ing during 800 years of Moorish occupation. Now, however, I never fail to inform the speaker that I am an Atheist, to which, surprisingly, I often receive an apology in case I have been offended by the religious content of their comments. My current boyfriend is a Romanian Catholic, and he goes into apologetic paroxysms if he inadvertently mentions anything to do with Catholicism or god. I still haven’t decided whether I feel powerful and pleased, or a little bit guilty for inspiring such paranoia!
I usually don’t say anything. I’m not out to pick fights with people. But sometimes it just feels like the right moment to speak up. When I do, I no longer feel like I’m ruining the party. I’m just offering my point of view, and if they can’t take it that’s just tough. I’m not into kid gloves.