About the Not Alone Project
Why “Not Alone”?
I have heard many stories from atheists over the years, and on story I keep hearing is the fear and uncertainty that a person feels when they are about to come out as godless. These fears include fear of rejection by family and community, fear of isolation due to living in a mostly god-fearing community, fear of loss of respect at the hands of those around them, and in extreme cases, such as in Bangladesh, The Maldives and Pakistan, fear of violence or death. The purpose of “Not Alone” is to show those around the world who are in the process of “coming out”, or just those who have come to a conclusion that they hold no belief in gods, that there are people all over the world who share similar fears and concerns.
What is the main focus of “Not Alone”?
I want to hear from anyone and everyone that has a story to tell, be it a story of overcoming hardship, a story of loss of family, a story of a need for secrecy surrounding their non-belief, or a story of happiness or relief at coming to this realisation. Ultimately I’d like “Not Alone to become a place where people can come, read the stories of others, submit their own stories, and comment and offer advice, in a safe and non-judgmental environment. I see it as an “internet safehouse” for those wishing to share and learn, a community of non-believers.
What are the challenges of setting up a project like “Not Alone”?
The main challenge to a fledgeling project like this is getting the word out, and standing out as something different from projects that have been attempted in the past. Richard Dawkins had the “Out Campaign”, which encouraged people to come out as atheists, and proudly wear the “Scarlet A” as a sign of solidarity and community. However I realise that many aren’t in a situation where they can tell their story without fear of reprisal from their communities. Take for example the story of the Indonesian man Alexander Aan, who after posting “There is no god” on his Facebook profile, was accosted by his co-workers, bashed, and delivered to the local police station, after which he was charged with “inciting religious hatred” and sentenced to two and a half years jail, and fined $10,598. Indonesia is not a place where you can openly profess atheism and expect it to be accepted.
Not Alone aims to give people like Mr Aan a place to at least voice their story anonymously, safely and yet publicly, to offer hope and inspiration for those who are in perilous situations.
How can I help?
Since Not Alone is very young, the main challenge of the project is getting word out about the project’s existence. To do this, adding a Not Alone badge to your site, linking back to the main website, will help drive some traffic to the site. Alternatively, you could write an article about the project, highlighting some of the aims and outcomes the project hopes to deliver.
Finally, and most importantly, the project depends upon the interaction from the public at large. So if you have a story to tell, write your own story for publication, or simply read the stories already published, and add comments. I moderate all content, so there is no change that abuse or judgement will filter through into the comments or stories.
How do I submit a story?
On the site there is a form which asks for a preferred name, a valid email address (anonymous), and your story, comment or questions. Please try to keep it under 1,000 words, but longer articles will be considered depending on their content.
Please visit Not Alone Project and contribute if you can.