Friends of Our Wilderness Awareness School Community,
I have been thinking deeply and with a heaviness about this for some time, and I want to welcome to conversation anyone who might be silent and feeling the same way, or is interested in strengthening cross-political friendships in this time of grief and disconnect.
As some of you may or may not know, I have come to hold some different views than many of the good people at Wilderness Awareness School. I am a Conservative.
I say this outright because it is precisely the fear of saying it which I must challenge. It is this fear of social marginalization which I carry within myself, but a roar I must run to. We are all humanely prone to move in our small bubbles, not realizing that there is more intellectual diversity among our people than we realize. We are not a truly diverse organization if we welcome diversity that is only skin-deep.
Over the past couple years I have persistently worried that I am not welcome as a Conservative (even a Centrist or a Classical Liberal who is grateful for our Western Civilization) to be open with you whom I have called by beloved community. I come from a very, very Liberal background, and was still largely identifying in this way while I was an Anake of 2012-13. But we question and we grow; we challenge the unchallenged perspectives we are brought up with.
While I still empathize with and support a number of traditionally Liberal views, I also hold Conservative, mainline-Republican views which I worry are becoming increasingly demonized among well-meaning people who also want to protect what is sacred to them. We’re all carrying these sacred things we burn to protect, and I fear this growing divide. How easily we go to war with each other, and we make our neighbor our enemy. I do not carry hatred within me. I carry human anger and grief, like you. I have engaged with Intersectional Social Justice and have come away with the conclusion that it is not healthy or humane. This is my perspective. It is not the only perspective. Other good people do not share my perspective, but neither will I accept being thought of as “hateful” or a “supremacist” for not agreeing with this ideology. Furthermore, I am concerned that this ideology attempts to gather all People of Color and all gender-nonconforming people into a small political box of a perennially suffering identity which silences their independent dissenting voices, too.
We need to not be seeing each other as our enemies. A deep connection with Nature should belong to everyone, not just those we are politically in agreement with, not just the anointed ones. Insofar as issue has been taken with traditionally mainline-conservative approaches to nature, this should mean that welcoming Conservatives is all the more of a pressing need: would they not greatly benefit from what WAS has to teach?
Speaking to this almost entirely left-leaning community, we need to listen to Conservatives among us, because that is a part of this amazingly complex, diverse reality which we as a community are missing. And for the sake of real and serious peace, Conservatives must know that they, too, can safely come to communities like WAS to learn and grow as people without being told that all their views are wrong or hateful. Let them be welcomed to meet others not like them, to find delight and friendship in ancestries and gender identities unknown to them. If you want people to listen, they have to know they will be listened to, also. Let despairing be dispelled.
One of the areas we must examine is how, as a mostly-White group of people, we are rightfully eager to be sensitive to and deeply respectful of the experiences of People of Color, but at the same time we painfully and increasingly hate ourselves with such self-abuse, because we think that “whiteness” itself is some sort of inborn social evil we must spiritually atone for. Believe me, my beef is not and has never been with People of Color: it is with other White People. This grieves me heavily, that such a time as this is upon us. While I do not assert that every person reading this thinks in such a way in their attempt to extend generosity and inclusion to minority ancestries, I do maintain that I have witnessed this self-abusing trend and I am calling it out as unhealthy and lacking kindness and respect towards ourselves. Are we so frightened of some largeness within us? We are unremarkable, just another group of human beings with our own culture and history, our own deep beauty and wretched problems, with all the good and the bad that comes with any human heritage.
There is much more I could say about this, but I will end this invitation here. I have had somewhat more brief and heated conversations with a few of you before, in moments when I was admittedly feeling less gracious and more upset. That is the product of grief, and I know I am not the only one here to have wrestled that demon. Every one of us will fail to live up to our better angels on this darkened path through the Unknown World. I am shaking as I write this, because it’s damn scary to speak up to you all about this, but it must be done. I have had good dreams. I am not masterfully practiced in every moral responsibility I know I carry as one who lives in this liminal space –not unlike other cultural liminal spaces– but which is nonetheless one unseen at Wilderness Awareness School currently. It is unseen among The Left, the ones who made me who I am. That is not an intentional maliciousness on the part of our communities, I hope, but it is a cultural shortcoming which countless communities in our civilization are now dangerously contending with. I can’t be there for all of them, but I can show up for the ones that have mattered to me. I will do my imperfect best to be a good human creature, and I welcome you in your imperfect best to join me and break open what scares us. Please, speak to me. I will speak in response. Let us listen to each other.
It’s time for some truth-telling. I’m running straight to this roar.
If you have loved as your home the community of the Unitarian Universalist Church, or numerous other formerly soulful and life-affirming mainline-liberal communities and you are a conservative, you are not alone.
If you are a moderate, a centrist, a classical liberal, a humanist, a Republican, a patriot, a capitalist, a Christian, an atheist, a European Neo-Pagan, a skeptic, a descendant of the European Enlightenment (as are we all) and are not ashamed, you’re not alone. It’s OK to be White. It’s OK to be non-White.
It’s OK to say “NO!” to toxic Neo-Marxist Intersectional Social Justice. I am breaking open this silence.
If you don’t believe that “whiteness” is full of evil for which you must repent, speak up. You’re not alone. Your existence carries no racial stain and you do not need to be absolved of political sin.
Nature and Human Rights don’t belong to one political group. It belongs to all people. WE are ALL creatures of this holy world.
I believe in the work of reindiginization, to develop a sense of powerful belonging wherever we are. We are not “settlers”. I am a living being of a diverse human lineage of many European peoples whose intermarriage and blending of cultures over many generations became known as “white”. I am not only Scottish or French or German or Danish: I am a White American, all of these. I do not lack cultural dignity because of it. There is nothing to be ashamed of in this.
I hold deep respect for listening to the unheard stories of people of other ancestries, sexualities, perspectives, and so forth. And I –we– have unheard stories, too. I am an American, one of the most truly liberal nationalities in the world, by the truest definition of liberal. I am proud to be this liberal. Let us maintain it.
I am tired of being silent.
It is because of this that I am unapologetically proud of and deeply grateful for Western Civilization, despite its human shortcomings and historical tragedies which are intermixed with extraordinary humanitarian progress and liberation. No culture is perfect. We all have room to grow, marvelous new perspectives to learn. We can make Western Civilization even better. We can listen, and we have been listening, and we also shall be listened to. Being an “ally” connotes an alliance of friends, not a submission of servants.
I am speaking up because I know I’m not the only one who has watched a beloved community become increasingly uniform in its ideological output from members. But I will not be afraid: you don’t have to feel silenced. If you’re not ashamed of The West, you’re not alone.
In Absolute Fierceness
The subconscious specter of potential for violence is a natural, arguably justifiable part of human interactions on every level. We are animals with vicious, amoral instincts underlying moral, interpersonal, empathetic brains. The ghost of the threat of violence lends creedence to the value of trust: I trust that you could hurt me, but you won’t. This is why Jordan Peterson says, “A harmless man is not a good man. A good man is a very dangerous man who has that under voluntary control.” And so we should not be eager for violence. We should hate violence, because we know we are killers, even if we must kill, but we must not be eager for it. We should all be eager to develop such serious wisdom and extraordinary self-control as to avert real violence, thereby making any possible necessary violence undoubtedly defensible in those terrible moments when we are absolutely forced to use it.
Yestereve I gave words to what scared me, spoke words that were heavy in waiting, and my period, often irregular, came at long last. And in my dreams I came into a dark and beautiful landscape of deciduous green forests and untrodden fields. In such peace my companion and I passed through abandoned school playgrounds on this frontier where hope was forsaken, for better than hope had been found. We traveled further into this unknown land, the unmarked trail our guide, until we fell into a happy festival of friends and singing. And how we cried for those we loved and missed, but we were not lonely, nor any longer heavy-hearted. The music of friendship and laughter alighted around us, and I lay in happiness as harmless stampeding souls thundered around me in a great wave of hilarity. It was the eve of the end of days within this World Who never ends as I climbed the limbs of unknown trees. There is no map to this place beyond every map’s end, heartaching Pilgrim, but that you are the compass, aligned. – Gentle Jeffrey Pine.