We stand at an historic time, and the upcoming election will determine a lot about the world we will leave to future generations. As Naturalistic Pagans, our focus is on this real world, and we can put our spirituality into practice over the next two short months to help those future generations.
There are many spiritual practices, & we all need to take care of ourselves (one reason why so many spiritual practices are important!). Naturalistic Paganism gives us many practices, from celebrating the seasonal changes to daily and life practices. These empower us to act to build a better world. The oxygen mask analogy comes to mind – the need to, when oxygen masks are needed on an airplane, we are reminded to put on our own mask first, keeping us able to help others. As has been well described by Mark Green, political action is part of our spirituality. Especially for those of us in the United States, now is one of those times to put our energy into helping our world (in addition to all that we each normally do anyway)!
The Past Four Years
You may remember the thoughts expressed here back in 2016, after the election. Looking back at that, it turns out that things are generally worse than I expected in 2016! Donald Trump has reversed decades of racial progress, environmental protections, voting rights, and so much more. He has hurt our Earth, people around us, future generations, democracy itself, the norms of telling the truth, being kind, and many other things we hold dear. Trump’s continued urging of violence has continued to bear toxic fruit, with hate based attacks on blacks, Jews, women and more. These attacks practically define a list of those that Trump has verbally attacked. Similarly, it’s no surprise that the majority of Republicans literally want to establish Christianity as the national religion. Depending partly on your votes, these are the people who will be making laws, normalizing hatred, and enabling Trump if he’s re-elected.
This election will determine many future events, and action now is worth much more than many times as much action at other times. I could go on for a very long blog post detailing each of these and more, but I think most of us are already more aware of each of these than is good for our mental health. The past four years have shown us how vicious and hateful many people around us are – some of whom are family or friends we never suspected of such corruption. This is why Trump could easily win another 4 years – his support is not some small sliver of society (a good statistical overview can be seen at 538.com). If we are to avoid the damage of another 4 years of Trump – and the continued destruction of our democracy – we need to stand up as a country and put Joe Biden and Kamala Harris in the White House.
Is the Democratic platform perfect? Of course not. Are Joe and Kamala perfect? Of course not. Would I rather move faster? Of course. But no one perfect is on the ballot, and letting a worse candidate beat a better one because we wish there were a perfect candidate is not just political suicide, it is actively deciding to hurt future generations and for that reason simply immoral. Biden will restore many desperately needed things to our national leadership, including the recognition that climate change is real, that diverse Americans are all Americans, and that open lying is not acceptable. For that reason alone, I hope each of us can do something to support Joe Biden’s campaign. That could be volunteering for the campaign, going door to door, donating, or phonebanks, or more (or several). Here is a link to his campaign – can you sign up today?
Even with the monumental importance of the US presidential election, the other races matter too. This is especially true of the Senate, because President Joe Biden will have a hard time filling the inevitable Supreme Court vacancies (Both Ginsberg and Breyer were born in the 1930s) with a Republican Senate (remember that a Republican Senate already stole one Justice, refusing to allow President Obama to fill a vacancy in 2016). If you live in a state with a Senate race this year, your vote is especially important. The overall site is here, and you can find your Senator here.
Also important are the House of Representatives, and your state elections (governor, state house, state senate, judges, etc.). For those, your local situation will determine which are competitive – where you effort can help the most – and which ones are most important. You’ll need to do some research now to find out what you can do to help in the next 70 days. I happen to live in a competitive US house district, which the Republicans had Gerrymandered to be a Republican safe district, but which now is competitive, so I’m helping out there too.
Our Reality Based View is Needed More than Ever
We hold a very unique position in our national landscape as Naturalistic Pagans. We are one of the only groups who steadfastly defend evidence, without any supernatural camel noses – while still recognizing the human needs for metaphor. When open lies and fake news are being normalized by Trump, we are sorely needed. From my 2016 article:
While the Republican war on science has been going on for at least a decade, this election shows how being openly delusional and opposed to evidence has become acceptable in large segments of American society.
This should be appalling to any reasonable person – including people of many different religions and ideologies. As Naturalistic Pagans, our explicit reliance on evidence shows that our voices are especially needed today. Evidence, fact checking, and understanding what is really true are things that have always needed more emphasis in politics, but now the number of times I see open, willful ignorance and denial portrayed as virtues blows my mind. I hope that we’ll find allies here in all religions – as there are people who put a high value on evidence and reason who are Hindu, Christian, Muslim, Taoist, etc.
The past four years have shown us how serious this is. Even then, back in 2016, I didn’t expect the massive stream of literally thousands of lies which Trump has continued to spew for the past four years – even on things which are easy to check and see that they are lies.
The Electoral College
In September of 2016, I put out instructions for a game teaching the electoral college. I did this because it’s very important for the population to understand how the electoral college works, so we can all see that this system is simply undemocratic, and hurts people by disenfranchising millions of people. Learning anything is more fun when in a game, and this game works with kids, adults, families, you name it! I had no idea that the electoral college would be so important in just a few months, when Hillary Clinton won the election by literally millions of votes, but the democratic result was ignored, because of the chicanery of the electoral college! Here it is.
This morning, as I do every day, I thanked my Ancestors and pledged to help make a better world for future generations. One morning very soon, I will follow that with one of my most important spiritual practices – voting. I’ll vote by mail in voting within the next few weeks. If you haven’t voted yet, please remember to do so by mail as soon as possible, and if you miss that, then on Tuesday, November 3rd. Most of all – think about what your are able to do in the next 70 days to help future generations. I hope you can help us.
Starstuff, Contemplating by Jon Cleland Host
We are assemblages of ancient atoms forged in stars – atoms organized by history to the point of consciousness, now able to contemplate this sacred Universe of which we are a tiny, but wondrous, part.
Dr. Jon Cleland Host is a scientist who earned his PhD in materials science at Northwestern University & has conducted research at Hemlock Semiconductor and Dow Corning since 1997. He holds eight patents and has authored over three dozen internal scientific papers and eleven papers for peer-reviewed scientific journals, including the journal Nature. He has taught classes on biology, math, chemistry, physics and general science at Delta College and Saginaw Valley State University. Jon grew up near Pontiac, and has been building a reality-based spirituality for over 30 years, first as a Catholic and now as a Unitarian Universalist, including collaborating with Michael Dowd and Connie Barlow to spread the awe and wonder of the Great Story of our Universe (see www.thegreatstory.org, and the blog at evolutionarytimes.org). Jon and his wife have four sons, whom they embrace within a Universe-centered, Pagan, family spirituality. He currently moderates the yahoo group Naturalistic Paganism.