I’ve been an atheist for many years now, I usually say “that’s what 16 years of catholic school will do to you”. Growing up in Belgium, and now living in England, atheism is never something I considered to be an issue. Well, there was a slight hiccup when my husband and I got married and decided not to have a church wedding, his parents weren’t too pleased about that. We didn’t want to hypocritical, the church in my husband’s home town is a gorgeous baroque building and the inlaws would have loved for us to get married there even though it would a sham. That’s about as far as our issues go when it comes to our beliefs.
Fast forward a few years, we travelled all over, well mainly to the USA and made many wonderful friends. I joined Facebook and got to know many more interesting and delightful people, quite a few of them atheists. And that’s when I started to realise things weren’t always so easy for them. They opened my eyes to the hatred they face for believing something different. At first, I thought, well, that’s just a few isolated cases in extremely religious parts of the country. But no, this is widespread ignorance and hatred. The more I read and saw, the more appalled I became. I got to the point where I didn’t just want to be a bystander. This is not as it should be, and especially not in an advanced first world country, a country that claims to be the best country in the world, and a country which I really do love (most of the time). But I’m just little old me, several thousand miles away. I’m not a clever scientist, I’m not a witty blogger, I’m not an insightful theologian or philosopher. What difference can I make? Well, I’m a filmmaker. And my ever so wonderful husband told me one day “go make a documentary about it”.
So I started doing some research, I got in touch with several people about it, people who inspired me, people who I’ve looked up to. I received pretty good feedback from some of the people I was really hoping to hear from and they were interested in helping out in ways that they can (I literally bounced for joy when some of the people I look up to came back to me and said they supported me). Other people I’ve not heard back from, but that didn’t bring be down. Hopefully, as the project grows, they’ll come onboard.
And then there are the moments all of this scares the hell out of me. What if I fail? What if it doesn’t generate the interest that I hope it will? What if people don’t take me seriously? Am I smart enough? Am I good enough at this? Do I understand it all good enough? Am I wasting my time? Am I wasting other people’s time? Will I alienate/lose some of my friends over it? It is all such a broad scope, it’s hard to see the forest for the trees and where the hell do I begin? What if they don’t like me? Sometimes, I’ve felt like crawling back into bed and cry when I thought too much about it. But luckily, those moments didn’t outweigh the good ones, the moments where I received support, the moments where I saw yet another article confirming why I am doing this, …
So yesterday, I finally launched the campaign in earnest. Here we go, no turning back now. And that has to be the scariest thing I’ve ever done. Clicking that button on the indiegogo website, no more dreaming about it, here we go! It didn’t take long for the first 2 donations to come in, and one was from a total stranger. Phew! Maybe I’m not a total nutcase. Then overnight more than 200 people joined the Hug an Atheist facebook page, I received so many emails (I will reply to all of them, but please bear with me). So many people are enthusiastic about Hug an Atheist and genuinely feel the need for my film.
Thank you ever so much for your support.