October 5, 2010

Is the Atheist Movement Really Moving?

English: Stagnant stream As can be seen the st...
English: Stagnant stream As can be seen the stream does not move much and has stagnation in places. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
I've been feeling increasingly burned out lately. It is mostly about work, but it cuts across the board. This is nothing new. I go through periods of feeling uninspired, and I suppose that is to be expected. They never last long, but it can be tough to write during them. I mention this because I'm writing this post off-the-top-of-my-head, and so I'm not even sure what it will be about. But I suspect it is coming more from my current mood than anything else. You've been warned.

Activism is hard. I bet that any one of us could easily pick out 10 or more issues on which we would like to see real change. We might even work on a few of them from time-to-time. Progress feels too slow and can be tough to even detect at times. And I'd bet that most of us don't even see ourselves as activists, even when it comes to our shared interest in atheism.

I have never been a patient person, and I recognize that this is one of my many personal faults. And yet, I can't help thinking that my growing impatience with some atheists may not be merely my own failing. How much more time are we going to squander arguing among ourselves before we get serious about changing our world?

I'm too "militant," and someone else isn't "militant" enough. Atheism is not an issue around which we can expect to unite people vs. atheism is a civil rights issue around which anyone who cares about equality should rally. I don't show enough respect for Christianity and may elicit hostile reactions; someone else shows too much and is accused of appeasement. Great. We've been down these roads so many times I've lost count. When do we get to move on?

There are some atheists out there with excellent ideas who are largely ignored. Is this because we are too attached to promoting our own ideas (or blogs) to take the trouble to understand those of others. How can this be good for anyone?

We atheists are truly skilled and shooting down ideas, proposals, suggestions, and plans. We can take virtually any suggestion anyone comes up with and shred it into oblivion without breaking a sweat. But when we offer something we think represents an improvement, it meets the same fate. Are we moving closer to any sort of action, or is this just mental masturbation? Is our movement becoming more organized in any meaningful way? Are we any closer to becoming a political force than we were 5 years ago?

Are we effectively inspiring each other to produce, to create, and to shape our environments, or have we become little more than a collective bitch session? Bitch sessions can be fun, but when was the last time one resulted in something truly beneficial?

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