On Pagan Misanthropy

These are times when those of us who love the Earth can easily fall into resenting or even hating humanity. It’s not much of a leap: not only are we watching climate change in action and the crashing decline of biodiversity, but social and political movements right now are showing humans at their very worst.

This misanthropy can be a terrible burden. It is virtually impossible to be a happy person when weighted down with the enormity of thinking your own kind was a devastating mistake of evolution.

I see this kind of thinking sometimes in the Pagan community. It saddens me and I think it undermines the mental health and ability to function of those who live with it, and it often slips into the sort of tribalism that makes “those” people the problem, while “our people” get a pass. Ironic, in my experience, when I see the mess left behind after a Pagan festival.

I struggled with misanthropy at earlier times in my life. It took a long time, but I finally arrived at the recognition that humans are animals like any others, and they do what they can to survive and make things better for themselves.

And the countervailing fact is that we’re amazing! The things we have done, the things we have created and discovered, the places we have gone (in person or with our machines) are simply incredible.

Humans as a population can be problematic, but we mustn’t ever forget that any given human has the capacity to be a luminous, exquisite creature: a source of love and creativity and joy.

The journey of human evolution is a story that is as remarkable as any in the Universe, to our knowledge. That the Universe itself would develop biological machines that are self-aware, sentient, and able to appreciate the awesome nature of the Universe itself is simply a breathtaking development.

I get it about all the destruction. But with few exceptions, no one *set out* to destroy the Earth’s living systems. We just stumbled into it, one act at a time. Any other organism, given the intelligence and thumbs we have, might very well have done the same.

But there is so much we can do to make things better! Other cultures like some indigenous cultures have much better orientations to the natural world, and we can cultivate those values and work to spread them. We can advocate and be a part of the green energy revolution. We can work to restore habitat and steward biological hot spots.

We are here, given this one, precious life, and we can stand for something. It’s a challenge and a sacred cause, not a curse. As Atheopagans, we get it in ways some others may not. We can think of ourselves as emissaries into the world, carrying values of reverence and kindness to those who need them.

We are the people we have been waiting for.

It’s up to us.

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