One of my main motivations for adopting the philosophy of wonderism as a personal philosophy -- as opposed to just thinking about it and toying with the ideas -- was that I wanted to put wonderism into practice. I wanted to see if it would work for me, to see if it could be more than just an idea, to see if it could be a viable 'way of life'. I needed to test wonderism for myself to make sure I could be confident in endorsing it to others.
Wonderism, as I conceive it, does not make sense if it is only held privately by one or two people. The whole point of the choice of wonder over terror is to learn, grow, and build something better. Inherent in the idea of wonder seems to be the idea of action. What good is knowledge if we never apply it to overcome ignorance? What good are ethics if we don't speak out when others violate them? What good is wonder if it drowns in an abyss, because it never struggled against the waves of terror?
And so, I've come to the point where I'm confident to share it, in the hopes that it will help inspire others to undertake their own forms of action toward greater wonder. And this leads inevitably to the questions of activism. What causes should we struggle for? What actions could we take? How do we organize it? How do we manage it? What are the limits of action?
At this point, I only have detailed answers to some of those questions, and I would appreciate feedback from anyone with ideas of their own. Here, I would like to address one of the more urgent questions.
What are the limits of action?
In one of my introductory videos, I mention that I see the 'atheist movement' that has been shifting and rising recently as something 'much bigger' than just an 'atheist' movement. After all, atheism is simply a lack of belief in gods. You need something a little more substantive than that to form a movement. And yet, the movement has continued to grow and gain momentum. Clearly, there is an actual
movement taking place. But it's not an 'atheist' movement per se
. Yes, it is a movement of people who happen to call themselves atheists, but the reason they are moving together is because they share a few common things beyond mere atheism.
Some people have called this the 'new atheist' movement. This is a little better, but still extremely vague. Most of the atheists I know in this movement are not 'new' atheists. They have been atheists for years. So, what is 'new' about this atheist movement?
The best answer to that question I've been able to come up with is that this is a movement of unapologetic atheists
. Unapologetic means that, "We have done nothing wrong, and we have nothing to apologize for." In the case of atheism, this means that, "There is nothing wrong with being an atheist. Nor is there anything wrong with publicly criticizing religion. And so, we will publicly criticize religion, and we're not going to apologize for doing that."
The relevance to the limits of action is that the unapologetic atheist stance that this rising movement has adopted is a deeply ethical stance, while on the surface, to some people, appearing to be unethical. And here the relevance to the limits of action becomes apparent.
The defining action of unapologetic atheism is blasphemy. An unapologetic atheist is willing to publicly blaspheme religious beliefs, dogmas, and institutions, while maintaining the unapologetic position that there is nothing wrong in doing this. The key is that blasphemy is a victimless crime. No person or group is injured by blasphemy. No violence is committed, no oppression enacted, no rights or freedoms violated. While some may be offended by it, there is no inherent human right to not
be offended. It would be absurd to even try to justify such a right.
The point of committing blasphemy unapologetically is to push against the limits of unjust taboos, without actually stepping over any ethical boundaries. As soon as a person steps over an ethical line, the unapologetic defense crumbles. You can no longer honestly claim, "I have done nothing wrong." Unapologetics only work if you don't actually
have anything to apologize for.
Coming back to wonderism, I am suggesting that the lesson to be learned from the unapologetic atheist movement is that the limits to action are the limits of ethics. Perhaps that seems like stating the obvious, but it has some practical consequences which may not immediately be apparent.
First, what may at first appear to be unethical, may in fact be deeply ethical. I expect that wonderism will find itself pushing against unjust taboos, in much the same way unapologetic atheism is. We will have to think long and deep on what our actual ethical theories entail, and ensure that when we do push against a limit, we can justify our actions as being within good ethical boundaries.
Second, one person's tastes in pushing the limits of action may not suit another person's tastes. This is a matter of activist tactics. While some people are comfortable with in-your-face tactics in order to draw attention to injustice, others will prefer the more polite and gentle approach and may disapprove of in-your-face tactics. This should not become a barrier to cooperation or at least mutual respect. Foundational wonderism will remain neutral on these kinds of differences in activist tactics, as long as they fall within the boundaries of ethics. This meshes with the idea that there is not only strength in unity, but also strength in diversity. Wonderists can and will disagree deeply on these kinds of issues, and there's nothing wrong with that. It's healthy. If we keep a foundation of constructive discourse, then these conflicts can be resolved reasonably, and we can all continue to cooperate, despite differences of opinion, on the shared goal of pursuing greater wonder together.