It’s been about like this, lately
No, that’s not right.
Dear Seth Chagi. Because truly, that’s who this letter is directed to. Not Darren Taylor. Not Yngona Desmond. Not Bryan Wilton. Nor anyone else, past or present, with whom you’ve allied yourself. This is directed solely at you Seth, as the final arbiter of what TAC is, what it stands for, and where it is going. I’m not speaking for anyone else here but myself. These words are mine, for good or ill. But I think you will find that there are quite a few people who are in agreement with me, at least on most points.
I get it. I know how it feels to want to change the world, make it a better place. I laud the attitude that sees a need in the world, and tries to fulfill that need. I truly do. I recognize that energetic spirit that says, “I CAN do something good in this world, in this time! I can channel my youthful vigor and enthusiasm into a positive force!”, because frankly we’ve ALL been there at one point or another. It’s not a bad thing, in and of itself. Many wonderful things have been created in the world by harnessing the energy of youth and the seemingly indomitable spirit that goes with it.
But therein lies the rub, as it were. Unbridled, youthful energy needs experience to shape and guide it, or the products of its creation will almost always be flawed in some manner. And that’s where you made your first, crucial mistake. You ignored experience in favor of what you wanted. This mistake has now set the stage you find yourself upon, Mr. Chagi. And it’s not a stage I would wish to be performing upon.
I remember when you first came to the hosts of Raven Radio some years back, with this grandiose idea to create a (wait for it…) Asatru Community! You were looking for buy-in from us, as well as others. We gave our tentative support, in word only, because frankly what you were describing exists in numerous forms already in the world, and has since the 1970s. But hey, there was no harm in saying “Go for it, kid! Build that online community, be (yet another) clearing house for information, lore, contact info, etc. We’ll be here to offer advice or guidance as needed.” But then, you did nothing else, with us or anyone else. You never asked for advice. You never once expressed interest in what any other groups were doing. Hell, you never even once asked us at Raven Radio for a few minutes of air-time to put your message out to the world and solicit feedback.
Nope. You were going it solo. And thus, you fell off of our radar. It would have been better, for everyone, if you had stayed off of it.
Fast forward another couple of years. And suddenly, your little ‘asatru community’ was turning into a church. Yes. You took your original idea for a bunch of like-minded individuals to network and share resources, and decided to create an actual ministry. With yourself as head, of course. Because every church needs its Pope. And then you announced, with great fanfare, your new church. And you proudly proclaimed the support of numerous heathen publications, organizations, and media shows. Like Raven Radio.
Whoa there, bucky! You hadn’t spoken to us for 2 years. You certainly had never asked for or received any sort of support from us. And yet, there you were, declaring our full support of your endeavors. And then you had the nerve to get pissy when we told you, in no uncertain terms, to remove the name of Raven Radio from your list of supporters immediately. But that’s just a side-story, meant to illustrate one of your numerous social mishaps and how it came to be.
The problem here all along Seth, has been your youthful pride combined with an echo chamber reinforcing that pride. You are young. That’s not a crime. But when you not only eschew, but actively work against the voices of experience, seeking to direct you away from your follies, then you create a larger and larger mess. And, much like every young person I’ve ever known (including myself, when I was younger), you declare that the cause of your missteps is not within yourself and this great church you created, but with outside forces. You blame everyone BUT yourself, instead speaking in hushed whispers of a ‘trollish cabal’. If it is, it’s a really, REALLY BIG cabal. Comprised of hundreds of people, from the entire spectrum of religious, socioeconomic, and political belief that can be found with modern Heathenry. The one point of commonality, in fact, would seem to be… you!
(Quick bit of free wisdom, Seth: If you are walking down the street, and a person you run into acts like an asshole, well, chances are that person IS an asshole. If you are walking down the street, and EVERYONE you run into acts like an asshole, chances are good that YOU are in fact the asshole)
Now, I do not claim to be the best heathen. Far from it. But I’ve been smart enough in my life to try and associate myself with people who ARE among the best. And I have been wise enough to actually *listen* when they give me the gift of their wisdom. To this very day, I will seek out advice from numerous other people, because I value their input and experiences and yes, many of them can think rings around me. You, on the other hand, are doing the opposite. And with each passing day, you seem to double-down on this foolishness, digging in your heels and insisting that your way is best.
Wisdom is a tide you can get lost in, Seth. You’ve been thrown numerous life preservers, floating devices, even a rope or three, to help you stay afloat and move with that tide. Instead you tied rocks around your own ankles.
You can still fix this. Your head may be below the water, and you are sinking fast. But you haven’t yet hit bottom. I can tell you how to avoid it:
Shut the hell up. Quickly. Do it now. Do it without the need to make a ponderous (and poorly penned) expository statement about why. Just shut up. Start listening. Listen to the wiser, older heads that started off whispering politely to you that maybe you didn’t know quite what you were doing, and are now angrily calling for your metaphorical head. Accept that you bit off more than you can chew. Recognize that you have not made the best choices when it came to your new church’s leadership and who you put in those roles (vetting is a thing, yo). Apologize to those you have wronged.
But mostly, just shut up, dude. That’s how you start to repair your reputation.