“A house divided will not stand.”
We’ve all heard those words before. Yeah, they are in the bible but they didn’t start out there. In fact, the concept has been around for eons. It’s actually plain old common sense, the precept being that without unity there will inevitably be failure. Now, sometimes that is a good thing. Personally, I consider it a plus when hate groups break up, or when factions that support discrimination end up a splintered mess. I shed not a single tear when I read about how the Nazi party imploded on itself, or when other regimes came to a demise due to in-fighting. Can you imagine, though, what the state of affairs would be if the abolitionist movement failed and we were still a nation of people owning people? What would life in these United States be like if the women’s movement crashed and females were still not allowed to vote or own land?
We Need To Get It Together…
I’ve written several articles about the need for more organization within the secular movements in the United States. Secular movements? Movements? Yeah, that was pluralized. We are all so proud of the fact that there are sixteen or so million atheists and probably ten times that who are irreligious. Nothing wrong with that, but we need to be honest with ourselves and realize that just because there are a lot of us, doesn’t mean we are maximizing our potential.
How many of you saw the second Terminator movie? The one with the Terminator Cop? Remember when Arnold beat him up with the liquid nitrogen truck? The second generation Terminator froze in a pile of the frozen element and when Arnold did his thing, the dude shattered into a million pieces. Well, that seems to be where we are at times. Shattered into a million pieces, parts of a whole that exist in quantity, but often lack the cohesion to function as a group.
Don’t get me wrong, we do really good when it comes to events like the Reason Rally, Rock Beyond Belief and the various regional venues that pop up here and there. I’ve seen the pictures. There are usually representatives of local Freethought groups, state-level groups and the half-dozen or so national organizations – all doing their respective things. So, it’s not like we’re incapable of getting our shit together. In fact, I would go so far as to say that a vast, vast majority of us agree, wholeheartedly, that shit needs to get done.
By Will Or Way…
Where the disconnect shows up is in the methodology. How we should proceed, in many cases, has morphed from a talking point into a giant jack-hammer. I have noticed a marked increase in the content of blogs, commentaries and social networking threads that consist of whining, bitching and moaning about how one group or another, or specific high-profile individuals are doing it wrong, damaging the movement or how their actions are making all atheists look like petulant fools. Add to these the individuals who have decided that the most important aspect of being an atheist is to be purposefully isolationist.
It seems that whenever a group decides to take some initiative to form a group or organization for the purpose of group representation, they often get shit on. The pushback comes in the form of rants about there being no such thing as an “atheist community,” and trying to organize us goes against the basic tenets of Freethought, etc. So, basically, on the one hand you’ve got a bunch of us that are really sick and tired of being discriminated against, and regularly cry out about the injustice of the discrimination and bigotry that is hurled our way, and at the same time, regularly cry out about the horror of being organized into a structured and solidified group. We cannot have it both ways. It’s like wanting to be able to safely cross the street but at the same time being morally opposed to traffic control.
What Can We Do…?
Well, I really have no answers or solutions for this because the reason it’s so hard to herd cats is because cats simply do not want to be herded. It is my opinion that we are not going to see real change until most of us realize that we need to organize ourselves a lot better. It’s great to raise our fists into the air and shout out for our rights and demand equality and neutrality in government and the public square. But if we are waiting for the powers that be to recognize our plight and make the appropriate changes on our behalf, we’re going to be waiting for a very long time.
For the most part, they do not take us seriously. They read our social networking threads. They read our blogs. They scan Reddit. They peruse our websites. They collect news stories about us and listen to us whine every time one of those boneheads on Fox News or The Blaze vomit out their rather unflattering bile to the masses. They are very much aware of our in-fighting, our vitriol against various groups and individuals within our own movement that we target as either too militant, too accommodating, too confrontational, too relaxed or too afraid to come out of our respective closets.
Every time we scream out to our fellow Freethinkers “You’re doing it wrong!” and follow it up with a litany of insults, chastisements and requests to shut the fuck up, we are only hurting ourselves. What we consider to be our greatest strength, those who oppose us look at as anarchy, disorganization, disunity and apathy. And you know what? They are better organized than we are. They have a louder voice than we do because they are organized.
We have a unique opportunity, my friends. The GOP is imploding on itself. Almost forty percent of the general population think that many politicians are interjecting too much religion in their rhetoric and are grossly overstepping their bounds with respect to women. The religious right is losing ground and church membership is declining. If there were ever a time for us to allow ourselves to be herded, to pick strong leaders to represent us and to put up a united atheist front against those who would repress us, oppress us and ignore us, it is now.
By all means, we need to keep blogging, writing books, publishing articles, making videos, attending rallies, organizing protests and supporting the national organizations who have the ability to pursue legal recourse. But we need to get our collective shit together, people. We need to quit fighting amongst ourselves, find common ground, build our house and work together as a group.
We’re so close, yet so far away…