Growing up as a child I was never really exposed to religion per se, I would be technically considered a third generation atheist. My childhood home in Los Angeles afforded me a great opportunity to observe the cultural complexities others have and how their different religious idolism effected their day to day lives. To me, I see religion as something that people use as a coping mechanism to better understand a world they cannot seem to grasp; a metaphorical crutch on reality. I am often bewildered by what others tell me about their beliefs and how contradictory they can be to contemporary scientific understanding. People are sometimes shocked when I tell them that I myself am an atheist and sometimes they’re even confused by this notion. “But you seem like such a nice person”, “How could you have served in the military and been an atheist? “, “How can you be so moralistic and not believe in god?” These are the some of the typical questions I get when talking to people when the subject comes up. I have had plenty of people who become almost instantly hostile towards me after they learn that I am a ‘non-believer’, even when I have been very polite and non-confrontational. I have even had people I had once considered to be my friends stop communicating with me upon learning that I don’t aspire to some higher power. When I look at how people use their religion in order to influence and control others I am disheartened by this in many ways. It’s wielded like a weapon to channel their hate and discriminatory views into society. To me and many others, some of the things they do in the name of their god are as indelible as the sins they detest so greatly, a great many of people suffer and die due to this. I care about people because life is the most precious commodity in the universe. We have but this one chance to live and isn’t that reason enough to care for one another? That is my experience.