I'm going to let you in on a secret: most people are boring. I do not mean this as an insult. In fact, it is a complement. Our boringness is something that we all share, something to unite us, and something to make us proud. Still, who wants to celebrate boringness even it does bring us together? Isn't discussing tedium itself tedious? God, you people are impatient. Our boringness is important. It is the key to transformative social change. Seriously. Let me explain.
The easiest way to understand the virtues of boringness is to first examine the pitfalls of non-boringness. The most powerful example of the dangers of over stimulation is that most sinister of ridiculous bugaboos: "The Gay Lifestyle". The religious right is so fond of this phrase, you almost wonder if they are part of a secret viral marketing campaign for "thegaylifestyle.com".
As silly as the phrase is, its manipulation and purpose are quite serious. The message of “the gay lifestyle" is that it is first and foremost, not your lifestyle and the further from yours the better. The James Dobsons of the world use "the gay lifestyle" to create the impression that the average day in the life of a homosexual consists of nothing other than constant cocaine fueled sex orgies aboard Elton John's yacht, filmed by a leather clad Hillary Clinton, stopping only when everyone gets tired of performing abortions and commits suicide.
Of course the purpose of such language is to portray homosexuality as perverse, foreign, and "other". But another purpose is to portray it as exciting, glamorous, and interesting, especially as compared to James Dobson. The message is not only that these people are morally wrong, but that their lives are more stimulating than yours is, and that discrimination against them is a good way to even the score.
This combination of fear and envy is most potent weapon in the gay baiting arsenal, which is why they are constantly hammering away with it.
The terrible secret that Pat Robertson is desperate to keep from his flock is that most gay people are in fact, pretty boring. Many have never even met Elton John. For most gay people, their “lifestyle” consists of working hard, paying the bills, trying to find or maintain loving relations, and attempting to find meaning and community where they can. The same shit the rest of us struggle with every day.
My theory is that the strides in acceptance of homosexuality have happened in large part because the boring gay masses have increasingly begun to live their lives openly and proudly. Of course living openly and honestly is not easy. In addition to facing discrimination and violence, gays often risk being disowned by their entire families after coming out. It often requires courage and very real sacrifice to live boringly, and this is why I want to introduce the concept of “Radical Boringness.” “Radical Boringness” means living the hum drum every life in a way that's open, honest, and dignified. It means being willing to fight for your right to simply be treated the same as any other schmoe.
As controversial as it has been, the fight for gay marriage is perfectly in tune with radical boringness. In fact the biggest problem is that those fighting for equality haven’t realized they are sitting on an absolute gold mine of dull. This is marriage we’re talking about people, how exciting can it possibly be? My advice to gay marriage advocates? Turn up the tedious. Emphasize the drab. Explain that you are fighting for the joy that is filing a joint tax return, the thrill of arguing over whose turn it is do the dishes, the non-stop party that is legally enshrined monogamy. Not to mention the most gloriously mind numbing aspect of gay marriage: gay divorce! What could be more tiresome that having to hire a lawyer if your relationship goes sour? Once people realize how profoundly uninteresting your demands really are, how can they help but be swayed to your side?
Still, one does wonder if gay rights are a uniquely boring phenomena or can “Radical Boringness” be successfully applied to other minorities? Well, I'm not gay, but I am an atheist and I think atheists could learn a lot from the boring aspects of the gay rights movement. Atheists are kind of a weird minority. We don't stand out from the crowd in any way. We don't have any real leaders or spokesmen. We haven't suffered any real oppression. I’m pretty sure we’re allowed to marry and nobody really believes atheism is a disorder anymore. Yet we still have still haven’t managed to get a single unbeliever elected to Congress (we thought we may have had one last week but he turned out to be a Unitarian). Polls show we are by far the most distrusted group in the nation and atheists are one of the few remaining minorities that it is still acceptable in polite society to openly mock and dismiss.
Atheism has been in the news lately mostly due to the recent books by Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris. Consequentially, atheism is gaining a notoriety that is far from boring. Dawkins in particular has been getting attention mostly because of his antagonistic and condescending attitude toward people who are not atheists. He has been enough of an arrogant prick, that he raised the ire of the boys over at "
What people like Dawkins fail to grasp is that most people don't really warm up to you when you are constantly belittling the things they hold most dear, no matter how logical and compelling your argument maybe. I've argued with far too many believers in my life to conclude attempting conversion is anything other than spectacularly pointless. Dawkins' attempt to seize the mantle of atheist leadership has hopefully failed (Once your cartoon alias has slept with Mr./Ms. Garrison your credibility is pretty much shot). Atheists need to ask themselves “What now?” We've got some attention so what should we do with it? My answer: we should be boring, Radically Boring.
I’m not advocating atheists give up any traditional causes but we need to do a much better job of explaining what we’re fighting for and why. When atheist battle to fight prayer in school, it’s not because we want to eliminate God from public life or exterminate religion; it’s because we want to be treated like any other religious group. Would Christians accept a public school that required their children to pray toward