Shortly after moving, I met a new neighbor on my street. He loves astrophysics and we have similar tastes in books and music. His name isn’t Phil, but for the purpose of this post, that’s what I’ll call him.
I like Phil a lot. He’s smart and witty with a healthy dose of skepticism. We run into each other often–in part because we both walk our dogs regularly, but also because he’s hard to miss: Phil nearly always wears one of those black t-shirts with a large red A across the front to express “where his allegiances lie” (his words). He has three of them that he rotates through each week to avoid doing laundry. They all look just the same.
Early on, Phil wanted to know whether I was an atheist too since I’m in science. I explained that I don’t like labels because they mainly serve to divide people one way or another. And then we get war, bigotry, genocide, and so on. I told him how I like the way Vonnegut described Humanism and try to behave decently and fairly while here on Earth. “Kurt’s up in heaven now,” I added. He got the joke.
Yesterday I asked why the A itself was so significant to him that he rarely left the house without it. You might even say he wears it religiously. So how did one symbol become such an enormous part of his identity considering his disdain for other symbols?
Phil paused and shook his head. “I guess I don’t really know. But blog that. See what others say.”
“Okay.” I said. “Tomorrow.”