THE WONDER explores perspectives, rituals, and observances of modern, naturalistic, Earth-revering Neopagan religious paths. Naturalistic Pagans embrace the world as understood by science (that is, without gods, magic, or the supernatural), and enhance our lives with myth, ritual and activism. Hosted by Mark Green (author of ATHEOPAGANISM: An Earth-Honoring Path Rooted in Science) and Yucca (formerly of The Pagan Perspective YouTube channel, and of the Magic and Mundane channel). All opinions are those of the speaker, not necessarily those of The Atheopagan Society. Named #3 in the top 20 Pagan podcasts for 2023! https://blog.feedspot.com/pagan_podcasts/
Monday Sep 25, 2023
Monday Sep 25, 2023
Monday Sep 25, 2023
Remember, we welcome comments, questions, and suggested topics at thewonderpodcastQs@gmail.com.
An Atheopagan Declaration of Policy Values (2022):
Yucca: Welcome back to The Wonder, Science Based Paganism. I'm one of your hosts, Yucca.
Mark: And I'm the other one, Mark.
Yucca: And today, we're talking about religion and politics.
Mark: Yes, but don't turn it off.
Yucca: Yes, we were saying, what should we call this? What should we call this? But no, this is, this is important. This is what we're going to talk about. And there's a lot to say here. But today it was inspired because, Mark, you just got back from a trip, which you got to do some pretty cool politicking.
Mark: Yes I went to Washington, D. C. as a part of a fly in delegation by the Conservation Alliance, and I'll tell some of those stories later advocating for protections for public lands, including the designation of some new national monuments. So, I, as I said, I'll, I'll talk about that stuff later but yeah, just got back from a lobby trip,
Yucca: Yeah. So one of the things that... It is very common to hear in pagan circles, and I think probably not just pagan circles, but a lot of new age things and kind of, mini counterculture sorts of groups, is, you know, don't bring politics. into this, right? Don't, don't bring politics into my religion. Don't, you know, we, we aren't going to talk about that.
We're not going to be this is separate, right? Let's be, let's be off in our realm or our magical experience and leave that other stuff out.
Mark: right? And there is so much to be said about that. I mean, it has a nexus with toxic positivity. This idea that, you know, we should only talk about happy, shiny stuff, and that, you know, we're going to have this nice, warm, glowy, serotonin oxytocin experience by doing our, our spirituality, and we're just not going to engage with anything that doesn't stimulate that.
It has to do with the toxicity that we see in the societies around us where the mainstream religions are engaging with public policy and they're doing it for really destructive and antisocial reasons. And so that becomes sort of the poster child for why you wouldn't want you to have politics in your spiritual space.
But a lot of it, in my opinion, is simply... We don't want to think about any of those issues because they might bring us down.
Yucca: hmm. Mm hmm. Yeah. But, and there's just so much to say because there's, it's going to depend on every different kind of situation but I think that if we think about the values that We often claim to have that we value the earth, that we think the earth is sacred. You know, we may have different interpretations on, you know, whether divinity is involved with that or not, but hey, we're agreeing, we think that the earth is important, we're agreeing about believing that love and freedom and all of these things are important, then I think that...
If we really believe that, then we have a responsibility to those things.
Mark: Yes, yes, we it's because they won't happen by themselves. You know, there are interests which are destructive interests and are not filled with love and are not about advancing liberty and are not about supporting the biosphere in a manner which is consistent with biodiversity and with the sustaining of humanity.
And they're out there advocating for their stuff every day. And if we absent ourselves from the process because we think that it is too negative or too gross or too demoralizing, then we are leaving the field to those who would do us harm. And it's just not, there is no logic to it that makes sense to me, other than at the most sort of Self indulgent, I just want to feel good for me kind of place, where it makes sense to say, I'm not going to vote, I'm not going to advocate for what I care about, I'm not going to be interested in any kind of activism.
I mean, everybody's circumstances
Yucca: become informed about it,
Mark: Everybody's circumstances are different, and not everybody can be a big activist, right? You know, if you're, you know, you're raising kids, or, and you're, you know, scraping by, and, you know, there's a lot of different, I mean, poverty is a social control strategy.
Mark: So, it is, it is one way that people who have the common good at heart are kept limited in the amount of power that they have. So let's, let's not mince words about that. But even with the limitations that we have, I have always felt that it was my responsibility to do what I can to try to advance the values that matter to me.
And I'm pleased to say that the community that's grown up around atheopaganism is very much the same way. We're gonna, we're gonna put a Link in the show notes to the Atheopagan Declaration of Policy Values, which came out last year and was developed by the community with tons of community input and editing and all that kind of stuff.
Yucca: There was a lot of back and forth and lots and lots of people participating and, you know, wording things just for, it was quite inspiring, actually. Mm hmm,
Mark: the level, level of collaboration with the minimal amount of argument was very inspiring to me. And so now we have this document, and it can be downloaded from the Atheopagan Society website. So we're going to put the link in the, in the show notes so you can download that. But that's an example of the community speaking out on issues that really matter to us, and saying, this is where we stand.
This is what our activism is going to be built around. This is, you know, we... We embrace LGBTQ people. We do. And it's not just, it's not just You know, so called virtue signaling, we genuinely do, we want those folks, we want people of color, we want indigenous people in our community, you know, we want them to be safe, we want them to be seen, we want them to be heard as, as an example.
And similarly, along the environmental axis, along the axis of personal liberty and autonomy, bodily autonomy, all of those you know, the importance of critical thinking and science all of those pieces are a part of what our movement is about. And so, when we talk with the public, That is, that is core to what we express.
Yes, we're here for happiness. We're here for people to feel good. We're all for that. But as one of the atheopagan principles says, you know, responsibility, social responsibility is one of our principles.
Mark: It is an obligation that we have.
Yucca: And so those values, they're not just about talking about them, they're about, those are what inform the choices that we're making.
Mark: Mm hmm.
Yucca: Right? And being able to reflect on what those are, right? is really important. Have conversations about that, because we're not, there's going to be nuance, right? We're not always going to see eye to eye on things, and being able to, as individuals, talk about that with each other, and as a community, be able to, to talk about that and, and, you know, have that conversation is really important.
Mark: Absolutely. Absolutely. And we learn from one another, right? I mean, that's a really important piece because As strongly as I feel on a value level about supporting people of color in the LBGTQI plus community I'm not one of either of those groups. And so I have to listen a lot in order to understand, well, what is an appropriate statement to make in support, right? How do I show up as an ally and as and as an advocate? Or a supporter for their advocacy, you know. So, you know, it's not as simple as just having a laundry list of policy positions.
And it has to also recognize that we live in a world of subtle differences. Right? Subtle gradations of change throughout the whole natural world, and that includes humanity. So, I get really kind of bent sideways when I hear the lesser of two evils, or I'm not going to vote for that person because of this one little position, when the alternative is so much worse on every position. The best analogy that I've heard is that voting isn't dating, it's selecting, it's selecting the best possible option off of the available menu. And the available menu only includes people that actually have a chance of getting elected. It's not just some fringe outlier who tells you what you want to hear.
Mark: that can actually get into a position to make change in a positive direction.
Yucca: mhm, mhm, mhm.
Mark: So, we had a bunch of stuff on the outline for this podcast. What else have you got?
Yucca: Well, certainly the, the issue of privilege is definitely
Mark: Oh, yeah
Yucca: and this is something that I think comes up where people will be unaware of the place of privilege that they may be coming from to be able to say, I don't want to deal with this. I don't want this coming into, you know, my religion or my, anything about that, because that, that isn't the position that most people are going to be in that situation, right?
Mark: Yeah the, I think the clearest way to express that is that if you have the luxury of saying, Oh, I don't want to vote that just encourages them, or I'm not going to consider any of those issues because I just want to be on my, you know, spiritual path of lightness and joy thing. Is that people that are marginalized and endangered by the way our society operates, they don't have the luxury to do that.
If you look at voting rates, for example, African American women vote astronomically in high proportions in the United States. And the reason for that is that the interests of the community that they are in are, are, are stark. The, you know, the threats that certain people like a Donald Trump and the people that he brings with him present to that community are so real.
They're not, they're not theoretical. It's not just something where, where as a white person, you look at it and go, Oh, gee, that's too bad. This is life and death for them. And they turn out to vote. They're organized. They're knowledgeable. You know, these are people who are, are leveraging the power that they have absolutely as much as they can.
And when I hear people say, you know, oh, well, I'm not going to vote because blah, blah, blah. What I, what I really hear is, I am so cushioned from the impacts of the policies that get made by people that I don't... Agree with in theory that I can just skate on this and ride on, on the, the, the privilege that I enjoy in the society in order to avoid having to deal with something that I might find icky.
Yucca: yeah, I'm being served by the system, fundamentally. Yeah.
Mark: So, you know, I'll give an example. It's like, an argument can be made that the certain proportion of people who in, in key states who supported Bernie Sanders, And then refused to vote for Hillary Clinton may have given us Donald Trump. It's not that they had to agree with everything that Hillary Clinton said because they didn't, I didn't. But the appointees that she was going to make, the appointees to the Supreme Court, the appointees to the, the cabinet positions, the appointees to federal judgeships.
All of those things were going to be head and shoulders above any of the things that Trump ended up doing. And it's painful to say, but those people needed to look at the big picture and go and vote for Hillary Clinton. And they didn't. And it's that, it's that, that sense of privilege, that sense of it not mattering that much that I really think needs to be interrogated on the left. And I am on the left, right, but I'm on the left that seeks to achieve progress because I'm a progressive, and progress happens in incremental steps most of the time. Progress isn't a home run. Progress is a base hit, and electing Hillary Clinton would have been a base hit on the way towards achieving better policies.
And instead, we have what we have. So, you know, and I realize that there are going to be people that are going to be fuming when they hear me say this but seriously, look at the playing board, and look at what we got, and You know, think about, well, what does this mean for the next election? Where, where should I be putting my support?
Yucca: Hmm, yeah definitely was not expecting that, I was not prepared for that direction of the conversation. That's something that I would have to really think a lot on. I understand some of the sentiment behind it, but I would want to look more at some of the numbers. And some of the assumptions about who is entitled to what vote, and whether those, I think that there's a lot to that situation, and I don't feel comfortable, I mean, you certainly have the opinion that you want, but necessarily agreeing and and um humming without really looking at that particular situation.
I think that there's a lot that was going on there. But I've certainly heard that argument a lot, and one of the things that I have been uncomfortable with is, and I'm not saying that you're saying this, but this is something that I have heard often, is the sense of entitlement of those people's votes.
That, you know, somehow this party was entitled to people's votes. What about... So, you know, do the numbers actually work out of how many Democrats voted Republican in that situation versus how many Independents voted one direction or the other? I think that there's a lot to really look into there.
Mark: Sure, sure. And I have looked into it some.
Yucca: Mm hmm.
Mark: I should be clear, I'm not saying that Hillary Clinton deserved anybody's vote, or was entitled to everybody's, to anybody's vote. I'm saying she deserved them from a strategic standpoint.
Mark: That when you look at the playing field, And what was the right next move, that that was the right next move.
And in certain states like Wisconsin there were, there were enough votes that dropped off. That the argument can be made, but, but let's,
Mark: let's make the whole thing abstract, okay? Rather than talking about that, that election in specific, let's talk about elections generally. When you have a situation where somebody who you agree with 50 percent is running against somebody who is agreeing with you 10%, And then there's somebody out there who agrees with you 100%, but they have no ability to be elected.
And it's clear
Yucca: Mm hmm.
Mark: You know, I need to go for the 50 percent because, again, I'm a progressive. So I want to see things advance, even if they're going to go a lot slower than I want them to go.
Yucca: Right, well I think in some of that case it's going to depend on what are the particular changes that, and what are the things that you are placing at highest priority, right? And if one of the things that you're placing at high priority is trying to do something about the monopoly, then that the two parties have, I can see the logic of making a different choice there.
But I think that the point, I think the point where we probably agree is that when you're voting, it's something to be very strategic about. It's to look at what is the situation where you are and what are the possible outcomes and thinking about You know, what are the values that you are, that you are fighting for in that case, right?
What are they, right?
Mark: and the key takeaway that I would, that I would leave this particular rabbit hole with is that not to vote is to vote. If you don't vote, you are
Yucca: is voting, yeah.
Mark: It is voting. So it is you know, you, you don't get away with your hands clean just because you don't vote, right? You, you bear a responsibility for election outcomes just like everybody else does.
And that's a really important thing for people in democracies to understand. And I'll talk a little bit later on about democracy and the degree to which we have it and all that good kind of stuff.
This is just one area, right? This is an area that we happen to be talking about because this is an area where, where this is something that there's some strong opinions on, and this is an area where people do have influence, but of course there's a lot of other things. As well, in terms of you know, commercial choices and lifestyle choices and all of that kind of stuff that we can but one thing I really want to highlight, and you touched on this a little bit before, but I think it really deserves its own section of the podcast as well, is that being able to spend large amounts of time on these issues is a form of privilege itself too, right?
And this is not something that everyone has. And you don't have to be guilty and beat yourself up and you're not a bad pagan because you've got to do a 9 to 5 plus your two side jobs to even be able to Barely make rent, right? That's not, so we're not sitting here saying, oh, shame on, you're failing because you're not fighting oil rigs in the, you know, gulf and how come you're out there?
Like, that's not what we're saying at all. And I think that it's really, really important to think about and balance in our lives the self care component. And, that sometimes, yes, it's, sometimes it is okay to just have your celebration and to not necessarily be talking about, you know, let's raise money for this, this particular candidate at this time, or something like that, but know that it does, that this stuff does have a place in the community, it is important, but it isn't, The, you don't have to be doing it all the time, if that's not what your, what your mental health needs.
Mark: No, no, definitely not. And it's important for those of us that have the privilege to be able to engage the system in that way, either from the outside or the inside, that we recognize that privilege and use it. Right? You know, those of us that have the bandwidth, those of us who have You know, the thick enough skin and that have the energy and sometimes the money even just to travel, to go somewhere.
I mean, the trip that I just took, I didn't pay for because otherwise I wouldn't have gone, right? But but it's, it's, that kind of privilege is very visible. It's like, The D. C. is a very, very African American town. It's a very Black town. Lots and lots of Black folks, and, until you get into the Congressional buildings, and there it whitens up considerably
Mark: with the lobbyists and the, you know, the constituents that are going not, not universally, of course but noticeably, and it is incumbent upon those of us who have been there.
The privilege to be able to engage, to do what we can to improve justice, and to speak for the things that we care about so that they can advance.
Mark: So, I could talk about my trip.
Yucca: Yeah. Yeah, you were just talking about D. C., so,
Mark: Okay, well. So, I got sent on a fly in with the Conservation Alliance, which is a consortium of businesses which was originally founded by REI, the North Face Peak Design, and Patagonia.
And they came together to create a unified voice for speaking up for the outdoors, for for wild lands and outdoor recreation. That was a long time ago, and now they have 270 businesses from a variety of different sectors, and what they do every couple of years is they gather a bunch of the leaders of those businesses along with, and they make grants, right?
They pool their money and they make grants to organizations that are doing organizing and advocacy for the issues that they care about, and the organization I work for, Cal Wild, is one of those.
Yucca: mm hmm. So that's how you were able to go on this trip?
Mark: Yes, CalWild was invited to send a representative, and I was selected to go, and so I went. This is not the first time that I've been to Washington to lobby, but the last time was in the 90s. So it's been a while. And everything has changed, of course. I mean, technology has changed everything, and 9 11 has changed all the security.
So, it's, it's just a completely different experience. So, so I went and I was going to speak on to, as a grantee, to speak as a content expert about the positions that we're trying to advance. My organization right now is working very hard. for the creation of three new national monuments in California.
My organization is limited to California, so that's why, you know, that. But we're also advocating for some policy changes at the administration level, which would affect the whole of the United States. And I should say, you know, we're talking a lot about kind of American politics in this podcast, but if you have a representative democracy of any kind, the things that we're talking about are really applicable to you too.
Yucca: Right. Yeah, we're just talking about our experience with our
Mark: the stuff we know about. Yeah, exactly. So, you know, the idea here is not to get everybody all plugged into American politics. It's to use that as an example of what citizen participation or resident participation looks like and why it's important. I go on this trip and I go to Washington and I meet with the team and we have a training briefing and all that kind of thing, and my take, we, on the first day, I had two meetings with administration offices with the Department of the Interior and the Council on Environmental Quality of the White House now when we're meeting with staff, we're not meeting with the people that are in charge in those agencies, we probably would have met with the Secretary of the Interior, but it's Climate Week in North Northern New York, so she was away at Climate Week,
Mark: Um, so, and there was something going on with the Department of Environmental Quality such that we had the staffer that we had. But these are sharp, smart, influential people that we're talking to, and the sense that I got, and then the second day we had meetings with California delegation members both to the Senate and to the House of Representatives, including my congressman which I had a very interesting experience with talking to my congressman's office in Washington, so I'll get to that in a minute.
Yucca: hmm. Mm
Mark: The main takeaway that I got from, especially from meeting with the administration, was that they want to do what we want them to do. Their, their hearts are in the right place. And they are delighted that we are coming to Washington and talking to people, and organizing on the ground in local communities, because they need the political cover to be able to do what we want them to do.
Mark: And in that
Yucca: like that's charging them up, right? They want to do it, but they need to be charged with the power of the people.
Mark: Exactly so. And... It gives them something to point to when opponents say, we don't want that,
Mark: right, they can, you know, they can point to the organizing that my organization is doing and say, well, the people in the community who live right next door want it, you know, the elected officials of the county where the expansion of the National Monument is proposed, they want it.
So, You know, those are their representatives and they elected them to office to make those decisions, so why shouldn't we do this? So it's really important to be doing that kind of community organizing and talking to other people about the things that you care about in a, you know, in a focused way. So that was really gratifying to me because, of course, American democracy has taken a beating over the last 20 years, but it's still functioning.
Thank you. The elections are kind of messed up, and we could certainly do without gerrymandering and and all the dark money, and I could go on, but as well as the occasional insurrection, which I really, really think we could do without. I walked
Yucca: that's not an, let's have that be a singular thing, please.
Mark: yes. I walked several times, because the house office buildings and the senatorial office buildings are on opposite sides of the capitol. I walked back and forth in front of where the insurrection took place a bunch of times. And there it is, you know, large is life. And, you know, there are the windows they broke, that's how they got in, you know, there's where they hung their banners, you know, all that. So, that said it was encouraging to see that at least under this administration, There was a commitment to listening to constituents and to hearing, you know, they were very appreciative of the businesses that were represented there, you know, in, you know, speaking up on behalf of protecting public lands so that their ecological values last forever, their recreational opportunities there, all that kind of stuff.
Yucca: Actually, is that something you can, I know that we're talking kind of more process here, but for a moment, you were, talking about trying to get more national monuments. Why are those important?
Mark: Oh, good. Very, very good question. My organization focuses on conservation of wild lands on public lands. And a lot of
Yucca: you keep going, can you define conservation? Because that is a term that has a lot of different baggage attached to it. So what do you mean when you say conservation?
Mark: man protection of the land so that it will not be developed in certain ways. And management of the land for the resource, for the benefit of the resources that are there, of the ecological resources, cultural resources in some cases historical resources, and recreational opportunities for people to go camping or hiking or whatever that might be.
So, one... One misapprehension that many Americans have is the idea that public land is protected land. And it is not. Most public land in the United States is owned by the Bureau of Land Management or by the U. S. Forest Service. And those have been managed primarily for extractive purposes like logging and mining and
Yucca: Oil is big
Mark: and oil exploration.
Mark: Yeah, very big. So we're advocating for chunks. of undeveloped land to be protected in perpetuity and managed for the benefit of those values.
Yucca: Mm hmm.
Mark: That's what a national monument does. Or a National Wilderness Area, which is declared by Congress. We're not asking for a National Wilderness Area in the areas we're focusing on because Congress is broken, and there's no way to get anything through it. the President can use the National Antiquities Act to declare a national monument. He can do that on his own.
Yucca: So, by taking , these areas, you're setting aside, you're allowing ecosystems to stay intact, right? So that you can have the populations of these animals and plants or whatever. Particular kind of species you're looking at, they have a place to be, they can continue to play the roles that they would play in a hopefully healthy system and to help manage for that,
Mark: Right, and that helps us to accomplish a couple of important things, one of which is, you know, we have a biodiversity crash problem, you know, the, the biodiversity of the earth is the, which is the number of different species and the number of individuals of those species are both on a steep decline.
Having habitat is necessary in order for, you know, organization, organisms to live. And but not only that, this is a very interesting one. One of the things that we're advocating for is the expansion of Joshua Tree National Park.
Yucca: hmm. Mm hmm.
Mark: And the reason for that is that because of climate change, Joshua trees are migrating out of Joshua Tree National Park.
Mark: Over time, they're moving north because it's too hot
Yucca: Because it's warm. Yeah. Okay.
Mark: Yeah. So, it... Protecting these areas also enables the natural systems of the earth to do what they do in terms of adaptation, right? So, there's a place for the Joshua trees to go as the southernmost of them die because of excessive heat, and conditions become better for them outside of the park to the north.
So that's just one example.
Yucca: And may I add that we of course want to protect these for simply the innate value of that being , has any right, as much right to be there as we do. But they also, the functioning system performs ecosystem functions, which is like cleaning the water and the air that we all breathe. So it's, it's not just that, oh, we like there being lots of animals and plants and fungi.
It's that there needs to be. these plants and fungi and animals for life as we understand it to continue to function,
Mark: right, exactly. And that requires, because everything is so fragmented now, it requires some level of active management in order to protect from invasions by invasive species, for example, which will wipe out all the biodiversity.
Yucca: right? Or in my area of the world where we're missing keystone species, so we're missing whole ecological roles, there used to be these animals that aren't there anymore, and if you just take your hands off and you don't touch it, you fence that area off, that area will starve, quite literally, right? If you don't, if humans don't try, because it's kind of like the voting.
No management is management.
Yucca: Right? It is a choice that we're making as well. And so we have to really be thoughtful about and understand the systems that we're dealing with.
Mark: right. And there is so much science. I'm not saying we know everything, because we don't. There's an awful lot that we don't know, but there is a tremendous body of science about how to manage lands in order to improve biodiversity at this point.
Yucca: And we're getting better at it.
Mark: One of the things that we who work in the conservation sector, in the environmental sector, actually need to fight against within our own ranks is the group of people who still advocate for putting a fence around things and leaving it alone.
Yucca: That's why I asked you a little bit about how you are using the term, because where I am, the term has been kind of changing a little bit, where we have kind of two different camps, which are the restorationists and the conservationists. And the conservationists are the people who, who are, you know, an anti gras, who are like, don't touch anything.
Don't just fence it off. Don't know people know nothing. And then you've got the people who are going, well, let's look at the way the whole system works and maybe we do need to, you know, one, let's not keep kick the people off. 'cause you know, It's been here for 20, 000 years. But also, like, what, you know, what about the animals?
What do we do for the, you know? So that's why I was kind of asking a little bit about that terminology there.
Mark: here's a great example in California. There were devastating wildfires. that ran through Sequoia National Park. And in Sequoia National Park are the giant sequoia trees, these, you know, huge, vast, amazing, amazing
Mark: awe inspiring. Well, because humans had been suppressing fire in those forests for a hundred years, when that wildfire ripped through, it burned much, much hotter than it ever would have otherwise, and killed a lot of those trees.
Now, there's a big debate. The Park Service wants to replant seedlings of giant sequoias. in the burned area. And there are environmental organizations, self styled, that are saying, no, you can't do that. You just have to let nature take its course because that's the right thing. But we have been suppressing fire for a hundred years.
We have been doing the most invasive, destructive thing that can be done to that ecosystem for a hundred years, and now you say we're supposed to leave it alone? That's ridiculous. You know, reseeding giant sequoias in that area is absolutely the right thing to do in order to keep the species from going extinct.
And, I, I don't know, I mean, obviously this is what I believe.
Yucca: I'm smiling as you're saying that because I used to work in stand management in the Jemez, and we had very, very similar, like, I can hear the two sides right now and it's, People get, have very, it's very emotional, right, and one of the things that happens, I think, is that people have very strong emotional connections without having some of the background to understand what is happening.
And that goes back to what we were talking about before with some of our responsibility, I think, is that we have a responsibility to become informed about these Issues and learn about them
and and be able to, if you're going to be involved in making choices about how these If this land is going to be managed, you need to understand the ecosystems that you're dealing with. Because our system, our ponderosa pine systems are very similar in terms of the fire ecology. You know, people become very, people are very concerned about thinning and controlled burns and things like that, and I think that they're coming from a good place.
Their hearts in a good place in it, but are very, very misinformed about what the results of their actions will be if we do that.
Mark: And there are two big pieces there that I think really are takeaways from all of this. The first one is that they are coming from a good place, but it's a romantic place. And we need to recognize in ourselves when we are romanticizing something rather than basing our decisions on facts.
Mark: The second is...
We have seen a terrible onslaught on the appreciation for expertise over the course of the last 40 years or so. And we need to respect the people who have letters after their names and understand deeply how things work. We need to listen to them. And they don't all agree with one another, that's fine.
But in generally, in most cases, there is a scientific consensus. To some degree about what is the right course for these sorts of decisions. And we need to be listening to people that have devoted their lives to understanding these questions, rather than just thinking that because we like trees or we like nature, that we are in a position to make those kinds of decisions.
Yucca: hmm. Mm hmm. Mm hmm. Yeah.
Mark: I'm speaking to you and you're in the process of getting letters after your name.
Yucca: I have plenty of letters. I'm getting some more letters, but yes. Yeah. . Well, I had cut you off when you, in your story, to ask you to explain a little bit about the monuments, of why that was such an important issue for you to go across the entire continent. to talk about.
Mark: That was a really important question. And as you mentioned this, yeah, it's true. I mean, there are a few reasons that I would put myself into an airplane at this point because of the impact on the atmosphere, but this is one that feels like on balance.
Yucca: Potentially for your lungs, too.
Mark: yes, yes, that's true boy, although I came back here and oh my god, the smoke, we're, we're really, we're really buried in, in wildfire smoke right now.
So, Going to, and, and, you don't have to go to D. C. in order to advocate for things you care about. First of all, a lot of decisions are local, and you can go and talk with local officials, or organize a contingent to go and talk with local officials. But also, your congressional representative has an office in your area.
You can go and talk with them and let them know what you feel about things.
Yucca: Well, and state level as well,
Mark: state level, absolutely.
Yucca: right? And it, you know, it's going to depend a lot on your state. The experience in a smaller, population smaller state it may be A lot easier, like in my state in New Mexico, going down to the roundhouses is super easy you just walk in and there's everybody and you just go up and talk to them.
I would imagine in a more populated state, it's a little bit trickier, but it's still possible, right?
Mark: The culture contrast between, you know, California, of course, is the most populous state, almost 40 million people and the culture in Sac, yes, between Sacramento, our state capital, and D. C. is really stark. When you go to lobby in Sacramento, If you're a Democrat, you almost never wear a tie. I mean, registered lobbyists will probably wear a tie.
But if you just go as a constituent or as an advocate for, you know, one of our groovy left enviro positions, You can wear an open shirt and a sport coat, a pair of slacks, I mean, and, you know, you don't have to hide your tattoos and your piercings and all that kind of stuff, it's great. You go to Washington, it's a suit for a man.
You wear a suit, you wear a tie. I left my earring in, but that was my one sort of concession. And and you're right, it's very organized and very regimented in Sacramento, just because of the sheer volume of people that are, that are traipsing through there.
Mark: But I, I really, I want to come back to this idea that elected officials are there in a democracy to represent you, and they may not know what you think,
Mark: so go tell them.
You know, get informed on an issue and, you know, go tell them what you think, what you, what you would like them to do. It's more powerful when you've organized more people to be a part of that voice. And that's why the Conservation Alliance exists. And that's
Yucca: many other organizations too,
Mark: yes, yes. That's why that's why community organizers exist.
To gather the voices of... Individuals into a collective voice that's able to make change happen and that's true in any representative democracy, so it's, it's well worth, you know, you know, sticking a hand in, and the people you're talking to are just people. They don't bite. At worst, they will frown.
Yucca: wrinkle their brow at you.
Mark: Yeah, that's, that's about the worst of it. I didn't have any Republican visits this time, so, we were very welcomed and just very encouraged, and I think there are going to be some declarations coming up here in the next few months that will make us very happy. So it's bringing all this back around politics is How we as a collective society make decisions about what's important, what's not, and what's going to happen. And if you care about your world, and as atheopagans and naturalistic pagans, I believe our listeners do care about their world and about their fellow humans then it's incumbent on us to say so, and do things that make things better.
Yucca: I keep having the image of Mary and Pippin sitting on Treebeard's shoulder and shouting, but you're part of this world too!
Mark: Yeah, yeah, there's, because there are things in this world that are worth fighting for. Right?
Yucca: Yep. Well, we could certainly go on for a long time, but I think this is a little bit of a longer episode, so we should probably finish up here. And we are going into October, and we have some fun, and some spooky, and some great episodes coming up. And Stinky, and all of those great things that we love to celebrate, and recognize, and all of those things, and this great Time of year.
And happy autumn, everybody.
Mark: Happy autumn! Yeah,
Yucca: So, thanks, Mark.
Mark: yeah, thank you so much, Yucca. It's a pleasure talking with you, and I'm still obviously really kind of jazzed about this trip, so thanks for welcoming a conversation about that into the podcast.
Yucca: See y'all next week.
Mark: All right, take care.