Huh. Apparently over the last few weeks that I have neglected this blog, my hits have rocketed up. Absence making the heart grow fonder? Who knows?
Anyway, I guess I should explain my absence.
I try to keep this blog on an even keel balance of light-heartedness, humor, and informativeness. Lately, I have been lacking in those first two qualities, so I was having trouble bringing myself to write.
I can be a pretty cynical, misanthropic fellow on my bad days, or when I’m under significant stress; but I try not to let that come out in my external image. But man, it isn’t always easy to be the proverbial King.
People say to me at conferences “Alabama, huh? That must be something”. I typically just agree and shrug it off with a smile. But it really is something.
i can’t express how much I value the AAA community. There are times where I’d swear it is the only thing keeping us all sane down here. So the reality of having to leave this behind…well, it is stressful at the least. I can’t explain what it is like to live down here to someone who doesn’t, and I certainly don’t want to trivialize the situations that people are in elsewhere in the country. I think the Jessica Ahlquist saga has shown us all that even the liberal northeast can bare fangs when it deems fit.
I’ll just say that it is something.
I recently found out that the city council of my hometown, a place I proudly lay claim to for its relative liberalism in comparison to the rest of the state, has been holding prayer sessions prior to city council meetings. This is the sort of thing I hear about in backwoods counties that don’t know any better. Not bustling mini-urbanas like Huntsville, AL filled with rocket scientists and yuppies.
I also happened to notice an engraving on the University of Alabama’s Education building, taken from the Northwest Ordinance.
I know the history of the phrase quite well, and its link to the history of the SOCAS of the United States (look it up, a very good read). But I have to take note that I doubt this passage was placed out of a sense of Ohio River Valley or New England Puritanical pride. What I see on that engraving is a direct affront to people like me, who reject religion. Perhaps that wasn’t the intention, but that is sure as hell what it feels like now.
I’m not sure how I feel wearing the robes of this institution, honestly. The history of this place is seeped in racism and intolerance, things I truly despise. The crimson in the tide isn’t something I can feel proud of. Apart from my association with AAA and the other progressive groups on campus, I haven’t felt any sort of connection with the institution itself. I’ve never felt wanted by that crimson A, and perhaps in truth I’ve never wanted it (for aforementioned reasons) . It doesn’t stand for something worthy of pride or honor; but perhaps some day it could.
Anyway, my point is that I live in what I can be accurately described as a constant pressure-cooker of bigotry, homophobia, racism, and classism. Makes for a pretty nasty gumbo if you ask me.
The community pockets like AAA do make it bearable, but only just. The stress of living within this can really get to you. But unlike many, I am dedicated to staying here.
Some people in this movement are political activists. Others specialize in theological debate. What I personally see myself as is a community builder, and that is precisely why I don’t want to leave this area. Even the smallest and simplest of nontheistic communities down here can impact a young adult’s life drastically. I want to see as many communities as possible flourish in Dixie, despite the challenges and pressures they face. The best way I know to do this is to build up the web between them, taking a page out of the old monopoly textbook. Horizontal coordination and networking can make these communities stronger, and keep them alive and thriving for future students to enjoy. That is at least half of the philosophy behind SECAA, the other half being the promotion of vertical networking to connect these local groups and leaders to the national movement.
This may all strike as a bit ramble-y, but bear with me:
The Reason Rally is coming up fast. This will be an opportunity like never before to see a blitz of both horizontal and vertical networking, all at the same time and at the same place. Despite what some may allege, for that reason alone it will be worth coming out for. From my perspective, this could be an explosion of awesome for the greater atheist community.
In completely unrelated news, a AAA member just won a seat on the University of Alabama Student Government senate. As he put it: “NBD”. This is, to the contrary, quite a big deal. Having a voice speaking for AAA from within the SGA is something I couldn’t have dreamed of last year, and could be a glimmer of light pointing to legitimate change on campus.
So to get back to the initial point of this post: my absence. In summary and TL;DR: I have not been posting as of late because I am engulfed in a maelstrom of good news, bad news, and stress; while simultaneously facing the onslaught of change and the future.
So really, NBD.
I’ll be back to blogging ASAP, and will finally get back to podcasting when my voice comes back (been sick on top of it all). I do have belated non-rambley wraps of the Greta tour and the Moving Secularism Forward con to get to. You can look forward to those coming sooner as opposed to later.
Peace be with ye, heathens.
(There is a second pun in there if you look for it.)