I am currently in the British Armed Forces. In a relatively short life (currently 28 years old) I have seen and witnessed some fairly harrowing events and some incredibly beautiful events. The idea of positive and negative sacrifices is one that is particularly apt in current theatres of operation. Heroism v. Martyrdom; the only difference, I guess, is which side you are on - and even then it could be argued to be the same thing.
What I "believe in" has been forced into my consciousness more and more with each detachment to theatre. I have a great admiration for fellow members who cling to their religious beliefs throughout each detachment, ordeal, funeral. It must be a comfort to be able to know so resolutely that the 18 year old under the flag is going on to "something better". This is where I have found my atheism to be difficult. The business end. I truly believe that death is the end, and that makes death an intensely sad affair because I know that each time we stand saluting a coffin that the world has lost something unique. Sad but true.
Richard, thank you. The God Delusion is the academic reasoning behind my "belief in nothing". However, this is not an easy path that we all tread. It feels very raw and exposed to stand looking at death with nothing between me and it other than a handful of experiences and some awkward first kisses. The thought of me having a "bad day at the office" has occurred many, many times in the last few years but thanks to a few passages in the book that helped me to understand my thoughts more clearly, where there was apprehension in my mind there is now simply an acceptance that all things come to an end. Far healthier than smiling when a friend dies!
I would say that I am converted but I was already an atheist. Let me simply say that I am now simply resolute.
I look forward to see how you will next incense the world!