No Room For Zealots

The Earth seen from Apollo 17.

The Earth seen from Apollo 17. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


The radical, religious right often takes a beating here at HoA. Their unapologetic sexism, cis sexism, hetero sexism, and yes frequent racism need a good kick in the teeth. Dogmatic adherence to systems of oppression are supported by flimsy theology, shallow faith, and fatuous piety. The straight, white, cis male sees his privilege threatened and turns to an unknowable divine, a creature incapable of being challenged empirically and therefore, in their desperate minds, incapable of being toppled, making their selfish positions unassailable. That said, I want to make sure no one thinks that the radical right is alone in its dependence on invisible parent figures to prop up a limited view of the world.


On a Facebook timeline I found a fairly decent article critiquing what has been called “activism malpractice.” I cannot say I agreed with the entire article but it was more or less intelligent. It called out Democrats (a different form of zealot entirely) for their willful ignorance on environmental issues in order to show their support for the President’s dangerous environmental agenda. Less intelligent were some of the remarks in the comments to the link.


In particular I was disturbed by the insistence from one writer suggesting that pushing for renewable energy was as bad for the environment as fossil fuels. They made the (correct) statement that we need to cut back our consumption and went on to make the  statement that all energy production is  bad for Gaia. The fact that comparing the environmental impact of wind or solar energy to fossil fuel energy is like comparing a stick of dynamite to a nuke was apparently lost on this person.


In all likelihood though it probably was not. It simply did not matter. Just as scriptural contradictions are irrelevant to the right-wing zealot, empirical observations are unimportant to members of the Gaia cult. Some people who view the Earth as a spiritual entity view any human endeavor as an insult to her. Just as religious fundamentalists from the faiths of the book would have us all adhere to their doctrine, these supposedly left-wing radicals would have everyone live their very narrow view of life. They purport to speak for the Earth herself and to hell with what their seven billion other human beings think.


I, and most of my fellow environmentalists, fight the fight we do for the sake of humanity. We want to see our species continue in as kind, comfortable, and healthy state as it can. We realize, through empirical observation, that our comfort and health is directly related to the comfort and health of other species, and to respecting how we influence our environment. Some, however, take a dangerous religious view of the work.


It is dangerous because it is based not on examining the world, but on dictating what the world is. Like any such endeavor it is based on what the adherent wants, not on what the truth is. Challenging their view is hatred of Mother Gaia, as ephemeral a creature as the Father, Son, or the Holy Ghost, and as unmovable, unprovable, and unassailable as that trinity. They cannot be challenged, just like the religious right, and they are willing to go to great lengths to defend what they “know” is right.


It is also dangerous because they hand the advocates of unrestrained capitalism and “progress” an easy straw man. They can paint us all as foolish, navel gazing, selfish children, more interested in living a dreamy, psychedelic fueled utopia. It is, of course, not true, but the insistence of a small, but eagerly loud, portion of the movement to wave their shallow, Neo-Pagan faith in the face of others influences public perception. It allows the rest of us to be dismissed and makes the work of real change that much harder. It is why we cannot get complete investment in technologies that will drastically reduce the harm we do to the environment. Like so many zealots they cut of their nose to spite their face.


That is why I will call them, and anyone who tries to have everyone live by their faith, out. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: if your faith gives you comfort in a vast and uncertain universe, I am happy for you. The moment you try to use your faith to make decisions for others I am going to stand against you, whether you are vicious, sexist, Christian homophobe, or a granola crunching Neo-Pagan, Luddite.




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