Reason Being: A Drama Free Zone
The last year has seen a tremendous amount of drama in the atheist community. Though we are only a few days into 2013, I have seen little indication that drama is going to abate any time soon. This troubles me. Over the past year, I have tried to stay out of the various arguments that have dominated the online atheist community. Although there were a few times I did feel the need to comment on something I found ridiculously absurd. In truth, I have little desire to find myself caught up in these conversations. That is becoming harder and harder for me to accomplish.
The main reason for this increasing level of difficulty is that it seems that each time we have a drama flare up, more and more people “pick sides”. The truth for me is that there are people and bloggers that I enjoy reading, who lead me to think, and whose intellect I respect on both sides of almost all of the issues. I have seen friendships ripped apart, campaigns (on both sides) seeking to destroy the credibility of people, and to be honest, much of the same anti-skeptical behavior that we generally abhor from the religious running rampant. I generally try to walk away from such train wrecks.
The best example of this has been the debate over atheism plus. Whether you think atheism plus is the best thing or worst thing to happen to the “atheist community” one thing should be clear to all parties. The “movement” has proven to be incredibly divisive. I do not think that because something is controversial that it should be discarded. That is cowardly and not how any meaningful change occurs. My problem with this issue is the divisiveness itself. I can foresee no end to it. Both camps are pretty firm in their convictions, and appear, at least to me, to be digging in deeper—all the while, no progress is being made at all—it is similar to trench warfare in that regard.
This is problematic to me for several reasons. First, if you read my “about page” you will learn that I wanted this blog to be a page where secular humanist discussions could occur. Social justice issues, typical of secular humanism are important to me. It is becoming increasingly difficult to rationally talk about these issues among atheists. If we cannot rationally discuss things like sexism (as one pertinent example) among ourselves, how the heck are we going aid in affecting greater change in society? I find it incredibly frustrating to find that meaningful discussion on my blog and Twitter feed has been derailed because of conflict elsewhere. If for example I want to write about women’s equality, I want to talk about women’s equality—not what other bloggers think on women’s equality or which bloggers are hurting or aiding the causes of women’s equality, or which blogger is an MRA, who is a “radical feminist”, who is promoting misogyny or misandry, etc. I want to have a discussion on the issues—not on other bloggers. Yet, that is becoming increasingly difficult.
As this blog started gaining some success (at least by my own standard) I realized that working for the rights and equality of atheism was becoming more important to me. I can’t help but notice that with all of the attention being turned to things like atheism plus, there has been less effort devoted to “atheist causes”. I find that curious for something that is supposed to be an “online atheist community”. This troubles me. We may never all agree on certain social justice or political issues. However, one area that we should agree on is atheist justice. Most of us should agree on Church/State issues, on anti-Christian-Creationist issues, on prayer in public places issues—and I think that most of us do. Yet, over the last six months, the “online atheist community” has devoted less time to causes of that nature than I would like to see.
When I look at atheism plus, I see stated goals and agendas that I agree with. What I see in practice is something entirely different at times (though that is a topic for a different post). I work, online and in my personal life, for many of the same social justice causes that they advocate. The difference is this. In my life, those things do not get in the way of my working for atheist causes. I cannot say the same for the online atheist community. This is a source of my problem with atheism plus. It has become a distraction, taking time away from causes that most of the people involved in the debate, would all agree. This divisiveness is not what we need, as atheists who are at least somewhat interested in affecting societal change for atheism. The Christian Right is exerting its muscle like never before and we are online fighting over whether atheism plus should exist, how it should exist, whether we agree with its principles, whether we agree with some of the actions of its leaders, etc. When we have things like creationist, anti-atheist, and other pro-Christian agendas being proposed as legislation, I can’t help but view the drama over atheism plus as distracting.
This is not to say that fighting for the social justice causes that atheism plus advocates is distracting. Fighting for things like women’s rights, for example, is a very worthwhile thing to be doing. Arguing over which blogger is a misogynist does not seem nearly as worthwhile to me. If you support a social justice cause—get out and advocate for it! You will likely find that I support you. You will lose me when you write posts dedicated to bashing another blogger’s views…over and over and over again…for almost a year. I don’t have the time or energy for that, and it does nothing to advance any cause and both sides have been guilty of this.
I wish that we could move past this, but sadly, I think I would be naïve to expect that to happen anytime soon. Tempers are hot, feelings are hurt, and emotions are high—on both sides—none of which are great for conflict resolution. However, I am going to ask you all anyway…can we please put this behind us and get on with advocating and working for the issues that are so important to so many of us?
Why am I writing on this topic today? It is my hope that some of you out there will agree with me and will do as I plan to do—get on with atheist and social justice activism. I am not planning to write on things that I view as distractions to my goals any longer. I am not going to Tweet about them. I am going to spend 2013 focusing on my “activist” goals of atheism and social justice. I am not going to be sucked in to the past, present, or future “dramas” of the online atheist community. I do not want to be distracted from the things that I feel are worth working on. At times my goals and posts will certainly mesh with the agendas of other groups. At times, I may feel compelled to write a post like this one, asking people to put aside the drama and get back to working on the issues and not the argument. I invite you to come along for a drama free ride here on Reason Being.
Thanks for reading. I look forward to your comments.
If you have a blog please feel free to promote it on my “Promote Your Blog” page above.
I invite you to follow me on Twitter @logicalbeing
If you would like to share your story of how you became an atheist, please do that on my “Share your Atheism Story” forum. Our stories may help to encourage others with similar feelings to know that life is more than just okay without god(s).
If you have not yet checked out Alltop.com’s Atheism Blogs….what are you waiting for?