I mentioned a couple of days ago that our student group was going to start fighting religious aspects of our public university’s graduation program (I didn’t get many comments, so I’m going to assume you all just sort of passively agreed with me). I sent out an email to our club for feedback, and I received a lot of great advice on who to contact, various things to consider, etc. Most of the feedback was positive and contained the humble comment that this was going to be a difficult battle. I’m fully aware of that, especially knowing Purdue. It’s an extremely conservative university, and it…well, generally ignores any student activism that takes place about its policies.
But I received one email that was a bit of a downer from a staff member at Purdue (who I know to be an atheist activist). He said the Provost would surely politely blow us off, promising to look into it but never speaking to us again. I thought, yeah, so what? I know it’s going to be difficult and we’ll have to deal with bureaucratic bullshit, but we know what to do. He then told me to not even bother, and to spend the club’s efforts doing projects we could actually succeed at.
Well boo on him.
At what point do we just sit down and shut up because doing anything would be too difficult? Because it would likely lead to failure? Even if we can’t get the obnoxious “Amen” singing removed, our fight is at least symbolic. We’re showing the university that we don’t agree with what they’re doing, and we’re showing others who agree with us that they’re not alone. I mean, you could have told all the Anti-Prop8 protesters to just go home, because judges obviously aren’t going to be swayed by some signs (well, hopefully), but should they have? No, I don’t think so.
I think this is a problem the atheist movement faces a lot mostly from the outside – people asking why we’re so angry, what’s the point, don’t we have better things to do? It’s just a bit disheartening when I hear a fellow atheist telling me “Don’t bother.” If we don’t bother, who will? If the national government wants to institute a time for prayer in school, do we just sit back and say “Well Big Brother is too strong. No way they’d listen to us,” and throw our hands up in the air? No, we try our damnedest to fight it.
I think this can all be summed up by one of my favorite quotes:
“Dark and difficult times lie ahead. Soon we must all face the choice between what is right and what is easy.” – Albus Dumbledore
This club has waited two years building up our good reputation before attempting something that will likely piss off the campus. Now’s the time to do what’s right.