Ariane Sherine, the British journalist whose idea for the Atheist Bus Campaign nearly five years ago launched all those billboards and bus ads, is back after a long hiatus to launch her latest campaign: encouraging people to give:
I knew I had changed when I realised that I didn’t mind whether [daughter] Lily grew up to believe in God or not. Instead, I worried about the world she was growing up in. I wanted it to be a kinder place — but what did that mean in practice?
As an atheist without a rule book on how to act, I looked to my friends for inspiration. There was Graham, who had given blood 50 times and had been vegan for 12 years; Nick, who had signed up without remuneration to an NHS medical trial; and another Nick, a charity worker and former VSO volunteer, who had organised a sponsored cycling trip in aid of disabled children in Tanzania. I was surrounded by people doing good things, and I’d barely been aware of it.
I resolved to become a better person. I spent six months training and qualifying as a massage therapist, then gave massages for 40% of the going rate to charity workers, nurses, students, the unemployed and people on low incomes. I went to donate blood for the first time, signed the organ donor register and became vegan. I recycled as though my life depended on it, switched my electricity to Good Energy, and signed up with Age UK to volunteer to visit an elderly person for two hours a week. I also decided to sell 50% of my possessions in eBay charity auctions (which started last night), aiming to raise more than £3,000 for Médecins Sans Frontières. And, unexpectedly, I found that every new thing I did made me happier.
I will always be an atheist. However, I think that encouraging people to change their actions is more essential than trying to change their beliefs. If everyone in the world became an atheist, it wouldn’t solve all the world’s problems; if everyone became kind and good, it would.
It’s a simple campaign, really. Give to others. Give blood, give time, give love, give your possessions. Just give. It’s an easy commitment to make, yet one of the most impactful. Sherine has written a free book elaborating on these topics and answering all sorts of questions about the campaign. If you’re willing to commit to giving something, she’d love to hear about it.
(Photo via The Telegraph)