Because I Cannot Be Silent

“George Floyd! George Floyd! George Floyd! SAY HIS NAME!”
Protesters in my city, June 2, 2020

There is nothing I can say that has not been said, more articulately and with more authority.

There is nothing I can add that doesn’t come through a filter of privilege.

There is nothing I can do but fight for justice.

But I have a forum, and I will not be silent on this.

Police murder of black and brown unarmed civilians is a pandemic in the United States. It is a means that entire communities are kept under the sometimes literal boot of white privilege. It is the perpetuation of oppression dating back 400 years.

Atheopagans oppose this.

We are explicit about this in our Atheopagan Principle #7: Inclusiveness. We are all equal in value, we humans, and we all deserve equal respect (at least until our behavior dictates otherwise. NOT because of race, color, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, body shape or size, disability or any other human variation).

I am appalled that there is anyone in my country who would not agree that Black Lives Matter. They matter enormously, and they must be treated as such.

White supremacy is an insidious, poisonous mockery of human pride. It is a revolting attitude. It must be eradicated.

As for the nuances of this, and how this is to be accomplished, I turn—and urge you to turn—to black and brown voices who speak with an authority I cannot.

Black Lives Matter.

Black Lives Matter.

Black Lives Matter.

It Is Long Past Time for Women, God Damn It.

I voted for Elizabeth Warren for US President.

She was clearly the smartest, most prepared, most compassionate and sincere and—yes, I’ll say it—most progressive candidate in the race. She really gets poverty. She gets bigotry. She gets intersectionality.

She gets it.

She wasn’t perfect, and she’s made mistakes. Who hasn’t?

But Elizabeth Ann Warren is an educated, passionate, articulate, knowledgeable woman. And that, America simply could not forgive.

I am sickened.

I work in the nonprofit sector, and I have worked under a number of women. And I would characterize most of them as exceptional leaders with competency, empathy, compassion, and focus, who nonetheless had to be twice as good and twice as prepared as a man would have to be in order to get to where they had climbed.

I am ready, America. I was ready for the most qualified person in the race to win last time, and the Presidency was stolen from her by foreign meddling and Republican vote suppression.

I want more women in power. LOTS more women.

I believe it will be different.

Certainly the current sausage party in Washington—this neverending shitshow led by the most toxic male living on the planet today—cannot be made much worse.

It’s been thousands of years. Centuries since a bunch of asshole men swept into this continent slaughtering and raping and enslaving and destroying in the name of money.

It’s been long enough.

It is time for women.

It is long past time.

The Long Game

It’s not looking so great for the future of the world right now, is it?

The machinations of Vladimir Putin to stir up nativist and racist sentiments in the UK and US have led to disastrous results: the Trump election and Brexit. Both are systematically destroying the liberal democratic traditions of these countries and threatening spillover into other places like the Middle East.

Meanwhile, China is playing go, calmly and methodically placing its stones throughout Africa, Asia and South America to claim resources and subvert democracies in those places…all the while committing its own domestic genocidal campaigns against Muslims, Tibetans and Uighurs.

And, of course, there is climate change.

These are bad times, no doubt about it.

And as Atheopagans, we’re not going to kid ourselves about that. It’s not “the will of the gods”. It’s not “what is meant to be”.

It’s a particularly bad time in history. People and wildlife and entire ecosystems are suffering and dying as a result.

It’s 1938, all over again. And it is almost certain to get worse before it gets better, just as it did then.

So what are we to do? How do we face this mess, and work to solve it, and keep ourselves as safe as possible in the process?

Well, first of all, we must ask ourselves: in my situation, is it safe to publicly resist?

Racist nativists, homophobes and other right-wing ideologues can be dangerous. Many of them reflexively choose violence and “might making right” as their way of confronting difference. And the likes of Trump and Boris Johnson encourage this behavior.

If your life context exposes you to violence if you visibly resist the rising tide of the right, it is perfectly legitimate to go stealth. For the sake of your loved ones and your communities, it may well be the right thing to keep your head down, do what you can without drawing attention to yourself, and wait for things to change.

On the other hand, it may be the time to band together with other vulnerable people and make some noise. To stand up for immigrants and brown and black people and LGBTQ folks, and be loud about it. As ACT UP had it back in the 90s, SILENCE = DEATH. If you’re visible and noisy, it’s a lot harder to ignore you or your concerns.

But while we are resisting, we also have to build. And that’s where Atheopaganism comes in.

We’re about a new kind of culture: one where reason and kindness and inclusiveness prevail. And we can help to make it happen by living it ourselves, in our lives.

Collapse of various kinds is coming. It’s unavoidable. Modern industrial capitalism cannot and will not sustain itself, and it will crash the planet’s ecosystems badly as it goes.

But people are ingenious, and adaptable. We survived the last glaciation period and we will survive what is coming as well.

And that is what the new culture is for. Because humanity really is completely screwed if what survives into its next era is might-makes-right and bigoted tribalism and casual cruelty to the Other.

So play the long game. Know that your Principles, your rituals, your community-building, and the values you propagate through your families and interactions are like little viruses worming themselves into the future of humanity.

Yes, the times are bad. Likely to get worse.

But they can get better again. And that’s what we’re about: a better world, a better future for all of us.

So yes: resist where and when you can.

But PERSIST.

Carry forward those cultural memes and traditions, those ways of looking at the world, that understanding that we are all connected in deep and very real ways. Teach your kids, be a model to your friends and colleagues.

Be the better world we want to see. Hard though it is in these times.

Keep calm, and play the long game.