The show continues to inspire and educate in directions I didn’t known existed before. Thank you for all your hard work.
I enjoyed this interview; however, I think we could take Dale McGowan’s message one step further and use it as a springboard to set a dynamic methodology in motion that would 1) unstick “The Secular Movement” and 2) move it with a more worldcentric, transformative message that would eventually, 3) transcend Secularism.
I’ve recently returned from my first ever, local CFI event after listening to Ronald Aronson, author of the new book, “Living Without God”. Stopping here in South Florida (more specifically Fort Lauderdale), on his national book-tour, the lecture and Q and A time was refreshing amidst a modest but varied audience of would be non-believers.
If my tiny little microcosm of American Secularism is representative of the whole, I think I’ve encountered the general attitude, and what seems to be the regrettably slow evolution of “our movement”. More precisely, I’d like to postulate where it is at its current state, and suggest how it needs to move forward so that we gain significant distance away from the starting-line, and move toward the area of essential change we so desperately need in America. An area that transcends Secularism to the next…Worldcentrism. Surprisingly, this is one is as easy as one…two…three.
Firstly, it’s important to note that a less theistic culture will not emanate from anger and controversy. Gone are the days of venomous debate with our theistic brothers and sisters…that’s just playing into the hands of those wanting to fight, and let me remind you, that’s exactly what fundamentalist do…fight! Continuing to play this kind of game is political and social suicide; not for them, but for us. Anger always stems from fear (which is exactly what faith hijacks) and then conveniently fans the flames of contempt, disdain and hatred towards another. Contempt supplies more motive for more ‘would be” believers, and quite frankly, more resolute, angry ones. Thus, in appreciation of this equation, we need to temper our anger when partaking in discussions (notice I used the word discussions rather than arguments) with those who do believe, and to undertake this enormous mission without rejection. When beginning the conversation, don’t choose the attitude of unseemliness toward theists, but rather, take the higher moral ground, if you will. Be inquisitive and suggest agreeing to open-mindedness rather than supporting the notion of “agreeing to disagree”. That gets us everybody nowhere.
Second, when we do converse, we need to do so, on common ground. That being spiritual ground. As a teacher and practitioner of Insight meditation, I am (at times) able to understand that I am spiritual without being theistic. Perhaps relate the deep, personal relationship you have with nature or the awe-inspiring experience of feeling grace when you are sitting quietly, witnessing the flow of your experience unencumbered by your ego. These happenings can (and should be) described and explained not as something mystical, paranormal or metaphysical, but rather as auspicious events deeply rooted with an awareness, appreciation and admiration for the wondrous world around us.
Third, the only way we will affect real social change, is to actively invest in social change, en mass. Secularists need to stand up, “come out” and be visible to the rest of society. Not with flailing fists (as activists fighting against dogma), but rather with an open hand…availing to the believer an opportunity to see that we’re very much, just like them…perhaps maybe even someone they could admire. Showing up in social and civic groups, donning the Secular tee-shirts volunteering in soup kitchens, cleaning-up roadways, helping to shelter the poor, working with Habitat For Humanity, etc., basically helping to provide for those with less. Get it? By demonstrating compassion (the fundamental element of human nature), you become more embraceable. Most importantly, by being involved in a caring, invested group of people who are busy improving life for others, you provide a “welcome mat” for those who are hiding “in the closet” to “come out”, stand up and be accounted for. This is the simple act of selfless service and is something we need to enthusiastically invest in as a solidified group. Not just for each other, or for our local communities, but for our society and for the world. One more thing, let’s not forget the other simple, definitive equation: it always feels good to give.
I’m sure that little group of 30 (or so) non-believers I recently departed from, presumably would have tarred and feathered anyone (at least with anger and sarcasm) who may have stood up to proclaim their “on the fence” position- and that my friends- is where we begin our demise. If we don’t start re-tooling and re-directing our “project” soon, we’re dead before we even get to take our first breath of substantive existence.
It’s now our time to become the leaders of our society…to do so by setting a higher moral example and then, act from there. To forge alliances without anger, to “pay it forward” while transcending egocentrism and ethnocentrism in preparation to make that leap of consciousness toward worldcentrism and beyond. To begin this epic transformation, is really as easy as one, two three.