Now’s the Time to Convert Our Secular Values into Effective Action

by Gary M. Linscott

I doubt you need to be reminded: We are living through extremely troubling times. Threats to the very survival of humankind abound.

Unless quarreling nations can work in harmony to rapidly bring global warming under control, it seems inevitable that catastrophic climate change will occur in our lifetimes. Now a pandemic threatens to kill hundreds of thousands – perhaps even millions – of our fellow human beings. Authoritarianism, too, is once again raising its ugly head in multiple locations around the world. Hyper-capitalism has exacerbated tensions between the haves and the have-nots. And uncontrolled population growth not only endangers our food supplies and sources of drinking water, but imperils the survival of the planet’s flora and fauna.

Secular progressives place their trust in science and reason to come up with solutions to these formidable challenges. Yet many of our peers prefer to depend upon their beliefs in invisible gods, prayer, karma, positive thinking, or lucky charms to save them. If ever there was a need for the acceptance of a secular ideology and the implementation of progressive policies, these are the times. Yet most political leaders to whom we look for guidance seem ensnared in a tangle of outdated traditional beliefs and behaviors.

We ask ourselves: What can we do?

As secular progressives we need to wake up, read up, stand up, and, where we can, put our money where our heart is. That is, live up to our values and put them into practice.

By “wake up” I mean we need to realize that there are still ways we can change the course of human history for the better. We must overcome what often tends to be our complacency and our sometimes fatalistic conviction that there is nothing we can do that will really matter. People – especially in democracies – do matter. And change can happen from the ground up. So we need to familiarize ourselves with other like-minded folk who are endeavoring to effect secular and progressive change. The Secular Progressive Outreach ( “Charities & Advocacy Groups” page is a good source to discover potential contacts and opportunities to participate in progressive causes.

Then “read up.” Bone up. Many believe they already have all the answers they need, even when they have not expended the effort to properly study the pertinent issues. It’s a manifestation of the Dunning-Kruger Effect, the psychological discovery that one’s ignorance often results in over-confidence. I recommend we take the time to read thought-provoking articles and books. Become familiar with secular and progressive authors. It may change your own thinking on crucial points, and even help address the doubts of friends, relatives, and associates. People CAN change their minds. I know. I was an evangelical preacher for 32 years, but eventually “saw the light” of reason. By visiting the Secular Progressive Outreach website and clicking on the “Books and Articles” page, you’ll find a wealth of reading material worth your while.

By “stand up” I mean become an active political participant – at least, to the degree that your circumstances will allow. For some secular progressives, that may mean writing to your elected officials or local newspapers; for others it may mean marching or demonstrating in public. And for everyone, it means making sure to vote and encouraging others to vote.

Putting your money where your heart is” (or where your mouth is) means realizing that small contributions can turn political tides. Of course, we can expect wealthy and corporate donors to fund political campaigns to try and guarantee their own privileges. Besides being willing to contribute to political candidates to thwart them, however, we need to recognize that there are scores of worthy progressive charities and advocacy groups who depend on our financial support as well.

If you’re concerned about social justice, climate change, women’s reproductive rights, nature conservation, healthcare or immigration reform; if you want to oppose the religious zealots  who are determined to impose their views on all of humanity; or if you’re interested in any other secular or progressive issue – there are deserving and trustworthy groups striving to address them –   Donate what you can. Together we can resist the forces allayed against us and make a significant difference.

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