November 29, 2020

When the Rhetoric Does Not Match the Behavior

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If we are truly in the midst of a "climate crisis" so severe that we will hit a point-of-no-return in as little as 12 years, why have we taken so little action? Why have we not all stopped eating meat, refused to set foot on an airplane, and replaced our gasoline-powered cars with electric versions? What are we waiting for? Do we think the whole thing is a Chinese hoax, or do we just not care about our children?

If we atheists are truly convinced that religious belief is the worst thing ever to happen to humanity, something that has impeded human progress in immeasurable ways and continues to do so, why is it that so few of us are doing much more than complaining about it online? If religious belief is really that bad, shouldn't we be doing everything we can to help people overcome it and reduce its influence?

No, I'm not claiming we're all a bunch of apathetic losers or hypocrites. I'm merely suggesting that we pause every once in a while to consider our rhetoric and compare it with our behavior. Do we hear what we say? Is it what we mean to say or is it a bit overblown? And if it really is what we mean to say, why isn't our behavior more consistent with it? Are we acting like someone who believed what we have been saying would be expected to act?

I have criticized Christians for this sort of thing more times than I can count. They tell us their book is "holy" but don't even bother to read it! If they really thought it was "holy," wouldn't they want to know its contents? Are those of us who claim to value the separation of church and state but can't be bothered to defend it or those who spread "resist" memes but can't be bothered to vote any less deserving of criticism?

Many of us say things we don't mean, and I am convinced that some people don't even realize they are doing so. It regularly amazes me to see people with "humanist" in their Twitter bios calling others names, but that's not really what I'm thinking of here. I'm thinking about the intensity of our rhetoric and how we describe everything as a crisis, a threat to humanity, and so on while not acting as if we believed any of that. Maybe it is time to tone down the inflammatory rhetoric. And if not, then maybe it is time to step up the secular activism.