Dear “pagan”: your misanthropy is just internalised Christianity.
Stop. Just stop already.
Look, I am not going to bash Christianity — I have nothing against it. (This is, arguably, the strongest reason why I’m not a Neopagan. Or “pagan” with capital P like they call themselves). I think when you’re intentionally Christian, you kind of go beyond the surface in studying the true meaning of things like sin and salvation; Whereas the people who criticise this religion keep making surface-level assumptions.
But there is a second group of people who also make surface-level assumptions about Christianity: the non-practicing who internalised [a warped version of] its message. (Even worse when these people have power, but that’s a topic for another post). This group includes atheists, Neopagans, newagers, and a whole bunch of people who were raised Christian but decided to follow a new path. That’s a valid choice, but it’s often poorly executed, because they’re so desperate to disassociate themselves from the church, they don’t even take the time to identify and question their internalised subconscious beliefs that came FROM the Church. Instead, they carry these beliefs forward to the new chosen faith as if it was normal or just common sense.
It’s not common sense. It’s lazy and immature. Stop it.
“Humans are a problem” = we are all sinners. No, there is NO difference.
As far as I know, Christianity doesn’t actually say “we are separate from nature”. This message is literally nowhere in the Bible. Not even between the lines. Go look for it, I dare you. People just infer it because this religion does not focus on the question of nature at all. It focuses on human problems, but it’s WITHOUT DEMERIT to animal, plant, etc problems. But that’s something most people don’t realise, because they’re lazy and simplistic. They’d rather look at the Bible and be like, “oh, this religion doesn’t focus on nature. That must mean… we’re separate from it!”. No. Stop it, for goodness sake. This is an ASSUMPTION. An unfounded assumption. But can you see it’s in your head? Can you see it’s dumb to blame the Bible for it?
Some people will say “well, but this Christian leader said…”, “that Christian leader said…” — So what? Honestly. So what? Leaders are people, too. As human as you. As fallible as you. As prone to making unfounded assumptions as you. We’re talking about a faith where it’s super easy to debunk myths because it’s literally laid out for you in a book. Whatever isn’t in the book, was not intended. Whatever isn’t in the book, is someone’s assumption. How on Earth can that be difficult to understand? Holy cow.
Meron, are you defending Christianity?
Not necessarily, but if that’s how you wanna see it, go ahead. I won’t stop you. The way I see it, I’m defending reason. If your objective is to leave a church you were born into, then your VERY FIRST PRIORITY should be to understand this church. Not simply leave. When you “simply leave” in a fit of panic, you end up carrying a lot of baggage with you. And you don’t even realise you’re carrying it.
I’m speaking to “pagan” newbies especially, because it gets worse the longer you go without addressing the problem. I’m fed up to the back teeth with high priests and similar so-called “elders” who never addressed it, and are now too proud to listen to me. So if you’re a newbie, there is still hope. If on the other hand you’re too invested in this version of Neopaganism sprinkled with internalised Christianity (which you won’t admit, because of pride and fragility), then maybe you’re an old dog to whom I can’t teach new tricks and therefore I invite you to go read something else. Honestly. I’ve no patience for the proud and stubborn.
One classic example of this hidden baggage is the misanthropy trend. It’s very popular among people who left the church for a different faith. Hmmmmmm… I wonder where this baggage came from? Any guesses?
I mean: in order to believe human beings are “an evil” on the planet because we destroy it, or that we’re parasites or entirely a problem and nature would fare so much better without us… then you HAVE TO believe we’re separate from nature. You have to have made this assumption at some point in your life, faced with the teachings of some religion. Am I right? You can’t say it came from nowhere. You can’t say you simply woke up one day, completely devoid of outside influence, and decided to believe that. No. It came from somewhere. So stop fooling yourself into believing it didn’t.
Hard to swallow pill: you have no guarantee AT ALL that, if other animals developed our intellect, they wouldn’t misbehave just like we do.
Modern people who leave the church for Neopaganism are under the illusion that nature is entirely cute, wholesome, flawless and balanced. We are the evil cartoonish villains who ruin it all! UWU!
I hope you can see how childish is the above assumption. How immature (yes, elder who also identified with it — you too are immature. Wisdom does not come with age. Fight me all you want). I wouldn’t go as far as saying it’s shameful — shame is a very useless feeling — but it’s not serving you. It’s like shooting your own feet. It’s self-destructive. Maybe you should rethink it.
Arctic foxes are white and fluffy and make for lovely models in Christmas cards, but try living with one. You’ll see how savage and vicious they get. Hell, even domestic animals like cats and dogs can become vicious if they stop getting easy food and shelter. Nothing in nature is ideal or all good, you only believe this dichotomy (good nature / bad human) because you internalised the idea that we’re all sinners or some shit. (And even that is a misinterpretation of the Bible, which aims to help us deal with our own inner shadows by calling attention to them, but sure, dumb people be dumb and misunderstand it as “human evil, shame and guilt, ooga booga”).
Human beings have one “edge” over other beings, and that is our intellect. But did it come for free? Well, no. It had a price. Sure it’s awesome that we can become self-aware and good at problem-solving because of this intellect, but… that also kind of comes with a darkness of its own, doesn’t it? I mean, when you’re self-aware you’re also prone to a negative thing called shame. When you’re a problem-solver you’re also prone to a negative thing called perfectionism. Think about it: other animals don’t have either. Birds don’t go like “this twig is half an inch too short”, they just f*cking grab it and add to the nest, and hope it will help. They don’t second-guess or try to perfect and improve the engineering — they work with what they’ve got.
We can look at birds and consider them wise, OR we can simply admit they didn’t have to pay the price of human intellect because they don’t have it in the first place. That doesn’t mean we’re better or worse, it just means we’re different. But above all else, it means things have prices. If you don’t consider the price of every single thing you do, maybe you’re immature and entitled like a toddler. No shame in that but… Let’s maybe grow up? Some day? Does that sound good?
The same way a misanthropist wonders “what’s the use of being intelligent if that makes us perfectionist and self-centered”… I can wonder “what’s the use of NOT being intelligent? Other life forms keep going extinct with OR WITHOUT human influence — BECAUSE they aren’t self-aware or good at making a change”. Both premises are logical and valid. I’m just trying to get you to realise that one is helpful and the other is not. One is going to help you get somewhere, and the other is only making you sink further and further down in hopelessness. Even if you’re addicted to suffering (aka the attention it gets you), there’s a limit. One day you’ll have to start trying to get out of it one way or another. It’s not sustainable.
In the end, radicalism will just turn you into the villain you’re claiming to fight.
It’s inevitable. I know it’s comfortable to try and simplify things, or to fall for black-and-white thinking… But at some point, you’ll pay the price for this laziness. And then you’ll weep and wonder why you’re suffering so much. Well… the bill arrived. You should have thought twice before taking every shortcut ever; before chasing fireworks and other illusions for instant gratification. Some lessons in life are painful but necessary. You can’t bypass them. It’s an illusion. What you’re doing is putting them off — but they’ll come back like a huge snowball, and all at once.
I know this sounds like a tangent, but it’s in fact on topic. People arrive at an extreme (such as misanthropy) because it’s a snowball. It’s made out of all the wee bits of disappointment they chose to ignore in life, until it all came back full force and exploded in their face. “Oh, I’m afraid of dealing with this disappointment I just had, it’s gonna be unpleasant, ‘lemme just pretend it doesn’t exist and sweep it under the carpet and go get some ice cream instead”. Over, and over, and over. Replace ice cream for your preferred coping strategy.
This is not to shame your fear. I feel afraid too, everyone does. I “treat myself” to nice things instead of addressing unpleasant feelings more often than I’d like to admit. I’m not asking anyone to be the epitome of efficiency. What I am saying is, please, pretty please, don’t turn it into a vicious cycle. Choose the comfort zone a few times, by all means — but every single time? That’s a bit much now, ain’t it?
IF, on the other hand, you were WILLING to confront your unpleasant feelings about the world every once in a while… You’d come to realise they’re common. They’re things that happen. They aren’t this all-powerful monster your paranoia dreamed up. Life has dark sides, we have dark sides, animals have dark sides, the very grass we step on has dark sides… And that’s okay. Sometimes we’re happy, other times we’re disappointed. So be it.
Sure, let’s make an effort to keep life sustainable and worth living on this planet. But pay attention to WHY. It’s not because “humans are the villain”. Allow me to suggest that maybe — just maybe — things are more complex than that.