Today is Groundhogs Day and everyone is trying to remember what it means if the groundhog sees his shadow. The answer of course is absolutely nothing! The visual perception of the blockage of the sun by a particular rodent on a particular morning has absolutely no clairvoyant power concerning the winter season.
This is actually a pretty big holiday for some people. Punxsutawney Phil (the groundhog) is actually someone of a celebrity. My old boss used to always take today as a vacation day and visit Phil’s home in Punxsutawney, PA. In fairness, my old boss mainly thought of the day as a drinking holiday, but then again he thought of every holiday as a drinking holiday.
Of course almost no one takes Phil’s “prediction” seriously, but I imagine at some point people did. So I wonder if more people did take Groundhog’s Day seriously would sane people be forced to take it seriously too? I mean, how are most religious beliefs any different than the beliefs of those very few people who might actually believe that the groundhog’s shadow accurately predicts the length of the winter season?
The other day, I mentioned to someone at work that was an atheist. She said that she was raised Catholic, but it didn’t stick. Still, she said that she doesn’t care that other people do believe. In other words, she respects their beliefs even if she doesn’t hold them. I respect people’s right to believe their beliefs and I respect the believer themselves, but I definitely don’t respect the beliefs themselves.
My co-worker doesn’t want to offend. But I wonder if she would walk on the same eggshells for someone who took Groundhog’s Day seriously. Is the difference merely popularity of superstition? How many times do I have to wake up in the morning and experience the same reverence to superstitious beliefs? For an atheist, everyday seems like Groundhog’s Day.