Since before I took my first steps I knew the inside of a church. You could say I was born into The Church. In fact, my mum was pregnant with me when she was baptised – a point I often raised to resist another attempt for her to take me to be baptised. Before I could properly recite my ABCs or count to 100 I knew there was a God, Heaven and Hell and a Devil. I was was continuously told if I didn’t obey God, my parents and live to the way the Bible said I was going to Hell where there was a lifetime of misery and gnashing of the teeth. The gnashing of the teeth part was important because they never left that part out. Who wants to grind their teeth for all eternity anyway? Weeks of grinding do enough damage to them. It all seemed normal to me though. I never once felt pressured or manipulated in any way because it just felt like this was the way the world worked. I had nothing else to compare it to. Anything outside Church doctrine was kept away from me.
My early years in The Church were pleasant. I would play with other children on church grounds and I cared more about the lunch menu in the cafeteria than the sermons being spoken.
That all changed when I was ten when my mum took me to the side and told me to take church more seriously. She thrust a book of devotions in my hand that I was now to read once a night. This together with a Kid’s Adventure Bible and some carefully chosen books from Koorong, the Christian Bookstore in North Ryde, was to introduce me to themes in the Bible and mould me into the ideal obedient Christian. And I took it all in. What I read I took seriously and tried to apply it in my life. I got the nickname ‘good little Christian’ by my also Christian sister.
I gave my full attention to my youth pastor Paul Green as he taught us another lesson from the Bible and how we should apply those lessons in our lives. He warned us about hanging out with the wrong sort of people and it was probably the first time I got an idea of what ‘toxic’ meant. Those people were said to have influenced us to do sinful things. Paul told us that the people we hang out with we begin to talk like and he taught us to be wary of this. He even told us to control our very thinking so our own thoughts would not cause us to sin. Paul was more than a youth pastor to me, he was also a father figure and a mentor. All my career prospects were centered around work he was already doing. He was a wedding photographer and studying film. I took in everything he said and did my best to put it into practice, not only to please him but also because of the end goal, which was to make it into Heaven. This was the first time I learned to ‘shake off’ unwanted thoughts, something that would help my OCPD that would surface in later years.
When I was 14 and the older youth grew up and stopped coming to youth meetings to pursue more mature roles in the church Paul became very frustrated with the apathy of the next generation of youth. He gave up on us and I felt heartbroken. What did I do to disappoint him? I did everything he said and faced mockery even from my Christian peers for being such a good little lapdog. The blow was even heavier for me because my mum had just given up on homeschooling me so I felt useless, directionless and without a future. It just seemed like all the adults gave up on me. What never crossed my mind back then was this could have been another manipulation tactic for Paul to make us do what he wanted.
Eventually I became a communist while I was still attending church. I was told that I couldn’t be communist if I was a Christian. It was made to sound like Christianity was in my bloodline. ‘Remember your roots’ I was told. Being a communist introduced me to a pre-social media world of activism and made we wrestle with my faith a lot, by the time I turned 20 I was sure I’d rather be a communist but took the socialist label as I got involved with The Socialist Alliance. It was a lonely time for me. I felt like the only socialist in my small town and that I was surrounded by right-wing Christians. In reality I had been brought up with massive walls around me to make it seem like there were only right-wing Christians in my town. It was in the cities where I found my people, in resistance bookshops and annual Marxist meetings in universities. The cities were a utopia for me.
When it came time for me to move to Sydney I discovered another Pentecostal church while I was looking up astronomy. It was through an E-book about the End Times and I’m a stickler for a good doomsday story. I was yet again thrust into another world of cultish dogma, this one much worse than the Hillsong affiliated one I spent the last 11 years in. They were a doomsday cult known as The Church of God. They also had some of the most strict rules to follow, a mixture of Judaism and Christianity with a touch of white supremacy. They believed that the real chosen people who were made up of the Lost Tribe of Judah ended up in Germany, Scandinavia and eventually the United States. Basically saying the real chosen people are white Americans. They had me reject Sunday as the Lord’s Day as it was really a cover to worship the pagan Sun god, Baal. Catholicism was also demonic and was responsible for all the pagan symbolism, and thus demonic influence, in society. Pastor and self-proclaimed apostle and Witness from the Book of Revelation (I wish I was making this up) Ronald Weinland was a physicist first so that made me gain his trust as he didn’t believe the 6 day theory of creation. But hoo boy did he believe some other stuff. Not even when Christ failed to turn up for his own second coming on May 27, 2012 (and the other dates following) or when Apostle Ron spent two years in jail for taking $50,000 from his own church, which he said was to survive when western society had fallen, as prophesied by him, did I think to question the validity of his words. I even sent him a letter while he was in prison.
How the hell did I fall for this yet again? I think if I was never raised to believe in God, particularly not around charismatic silver-tongued evangelicals, would I have fallen for such a ruse. And to this day I still find myself debating Christian and atheists alike by regurgitating some of the apostle’s great wisdom, which to be quite honest, is probably a stone cold lie. Then again you’re an atheist who doesn’t believe in any of this, do you?
My disillusionment towards Christianity came slowly. We’re talking over decades, slowly. When I was first confronted with information that was contradictory to the Bible I instantly rejected it. I was often met with a lot of surprise and derision about my faith, but I held steadfast. It takes more than mocking me to undo twenty years worth of conditioning by various Pentecostal churches. Discovering it on my own with an open mind is what made the difference. Often I would only be allowing myself to be exposed to such contradictory information to humor myself, but by the time I got to the end I was convinced. Mostly, it came from archaeologists finding ancient scrolls that didn’t match up to passages in the Bible.
Between the ages of 23-26 both religion and politics took a backseat as I got more involved in my band photography and the emo and Australian rock scene. I still called myself a socialist although I was more a socialist democrat. But after Tony Abbott won the Australian election and he started to attack people on disability I felt that fire burn in me again. Around this time I noticed a lot of feminist chatter on my feed. I never cared too much for feminism as I tried to do everything I could do to ignore the fact that I was born as a girl, and it took a male teaching me about how toxic masculinity results in violence to women that finally made me listen. I’m not proud of the fact that it took man to get me to pay attention to women’s issues but that’s the way it went down.
Due to it’s growing toxicity particularly after Donald Trump won the US election, I stayed away from Twitter for many years. That was until I realised I was transgender and wanted to connect to other transgender males. I was surprised to see a lot of them had more left-aligned politics than right or being apolitical. So, I felt I was in good company in more ways than one.
It was only a few years ago when I heard people on Twitter talk about being ‘woke.’
Woke culture exists within the left liberal community. It’s basically being aware of socio-political issues that face the world. It originated in African American culture to describe anyone aware of social justice and racial issues and was used by groups like Black Lives Matter as a call to action. Then it was adopted by the wider left liberal community, mostly intersectional feminist, that gives a voice to marginalised communities such as people of colour, the indigenous, disabled and the LGBTQ+ community. It stands for altruism, multiculturalism and equality for all. It works to bring diverse issues to the mainstream, mainly in the TV/film industry and gaming, so it’s not overrun with stories about white cisgender straight men as it has been since its very inception. Instead, it urges people to look outside of that and to make them aware that there are other people existing in the world and they deserve to be seen just as much as white people. It stands up against government oppression of marginalised people and strongly condemns capitalism as the reason why the world is in such a dire state as it is and as the reason why mental health issues have been skyrocketing. A sick society cannot have well people. This viewpoint entices the more extreme leftists; the anarchists and socialists to join these liberal spaces.
But despite this altruism and standing up for justice the woke community’s greatest flaw is its insistence that their way is the only way to be, from the very words you’re only allowed to say, the jokes you can find funny to the thoughts you think. They can’t of course read your mind but being part of any community that forces a type of groupthink on you often results in you being unable to think for yourself. Recently I came across a random stranger on Twitter call this Newspeak. For those who haven’t read George Orwell’s 1984, it’s a very restricted number of terms society uses meant to limit freedom of thought, self expression and personal identity. In some left spaces particularly in disability there’s a control on what terms are acceptable for people to use when referring to people with a disability, such as not saying ‘people with a disability.’ It may not be as extreme as Newspeak is in the book but just try to imagine what it would be like if all of society spoke in very restricted terms agreed upon by the majority of diverse communities. Language would be restricted in such a way that people would no longer know how to think for themselves. For a writer it spells the end of creative expression.
This is similar to what ten year old me went through when Pastor Paul told me to control myself from thinking sinful things and discouraging me from hanging around wicked people; another word often used by preachers for sinners or non-believers. I did try to control my thoughts and 33 year old me still struggles to not think of all the things the church told me was the truth, the only way to live. I still believe in God despite never having been given a choice to believe in him or not. I still find myself quoting verses back to people and debating critics of the Bible even though I really shouldn’t care. It’s just automatic and so very frustrating. This is what brainwashing does to you, and woke culture is just modern day brainwashing. You’d be hard pressed not to find a political group who is not trying to brainwash you. On the right you’ve got Rupert Murdoch, Richard Spencer, Ben Shapiro and others creating propaganda to continually brainwash their followers, but you have something similar happening on the left.
There are people in the transgender community such as Kalvin Garrah, Blair White, Natalie Wyn and Buck Angel, who are cancelled. As such you can’t follow, like their posts or even agree with them or you are ‘truscum’ who because they hold certain views such as you need gender dysphoria to be transgender, are the enemy of the transgender community. ‘Truscum’ or True Trans (trans medicalists) or transexuals are no better than the ‘tucutes’ they claim are a danger to the transgender/transexual community and so have broken off from the mainstream to basically enforce rules similar to the group they broke away from. Sounds a lot like what Christian denominations are like to me.
Any critics of the left regarding cancel culture or the policing of words will have someone met with a choice of modern day Newspeak terms; ableist, cisheteronormative, (insert word here)phobic, as well as using the most liberal labeling of racist, homophobic, transphobic, and fascist that those words lose their meanings.
If you disagree with them then you are compared to the supporters of the opposition, a MAGA or Trump supporter. Once you get this label you are stuck with it. You are cancelled. Cancelling – also originating in black culture which completely lost its way once it was adopted by the wider liberal community – is now what is essentially ex-communication; an act cults do when they want to cut all ties with members who question their ways. You are basically dead to them. You no longer exist, only to be compared to people who you think are dangers to the marginalized communities you represent. One example I have of this was when transgender Youtuber Chase Ross was accused of narcissism, gaslighting and ableism by one of his closest friends who was also a transgender Youtuber.
Cancel culture nitpicks at someone’s faults or indecent behaviour they may or may not regret and basically says they have no more redeeming qualities. These people don’t even deserve jobs and the wokesters don’t care if their whole reputation is ruined, because 20 years ago that person was racist one time. It doesn’t give them the chance to change nor does it see that a person has changed and accepted them for who they are now. Even within the left community there is division over whether this is going too far, and they are met with the same derision as any enemy to the community. Of course they are.
I was cancelled once. I made a joke about elitist vegans and I upset a very popular voice in the transgender community. When I explained why I had so much animosity towards elitist vegans by talking about one of my favourite singer’s who kind of broke my heart by the things he said about meat eaters, I was then immediately accused of misgendering this trans woman I barely knew. I think I just pissed people off for not agreeing with her and them, so they made this lie up about me. Either that or their reading comprehension really needs help. Even when I tried to explain the misinterpretation to the transgender community I was instantly accused of lying. In fact they treated me like the people we mocked for their poor attempt at apology when they said ‘I’m sorry I made you feel this way.’ But now I know that means people don’t understand why people got so offended, because some of us don’t have a damn clue. No woke person will ever believe that as a sincere apology though. It took me a few weeks to realise this was the bullshitted trans community I was part of. This is what happened to people who got on the wrong side of it. Just like what happened to Chase Ross. His reputation was ruined by it. He’s still making videos but he hasn’t got the kind of support and followers he once had.
For all the media’s attempts to make a more diverse industry it’s still not enough for woke culture. If there’s one film about a white girl they freak, despite there being whole black casts of some films and TV shows. They push and push for representation of several types of people in one series, and even when that’s shown constantly on Netflix it’s still not enough. Will it ever be enough?
This ferocity of demanding more inclusion does come from a good place. It comes from fighting hard to get that representation at all, but now it’s here that fire that has been burning in activists for so long it won’t extinguish. It’s kind of like when you have PTSD and you feel terrified in safe environments. But despite what conservatives say woke people aren’t mentally ill, not in any traditional medical sense at least.
In the broader left community woke culture is looked at as a joke. People aren’t taking it seriously anymore. It’s losing members. Some people do a complete 180 and become alt-right over their treatment in the community.
Being unwoke is like being exvangelical. It’s taking the blinders off and realising that maybe there is something more past those walls people have put up for you, to ‘protect’ you they said, or was it just to block out what they didn’t agree with? It’s to reject a doctrine that has taken hold of your life and to begin to start thinking for yourself again.
Instead of becoming the extreme opposite of woke – conservative right wing – unwoke is about reverting back to your former self before you even became curious in woke culture. It’s slowly unlearning every term and reintroducing yourself to the old vocabulary, deciding for yourself what is offensive and what’s not.
I started unlearning my wokeness in one the most random ways: watching Dylan Moran do stand-up. He was saying jokes that would be considered offensive but he was still funny, and I laughed hysterically at every offensive joke. I felt this release, this great weight taken off my shoulders just to allow myself to laugh at something I’ve been told over and over not to ever say or support.
Unlearning both 23 years of Pentecostal conditioning and 5 years of woke brainwashing is difficult and long process. If you couldn’t tell much of my vocabulary comes from the Church. When I talk about fires burning it refers to the fire of The Holy Spirit, and ‘burden on the shoulders’ refers to The Pilgrims Progress. Not that’s what I’m talking about but it’s where I picked it up from. Likewise, I still say words I picked up in woke culture. When I first joined an ADHD online community and helped a fellow member work out they had autism I was introduced the word ‘ableist’ by them. Since then the word has become mainstream and refers to anything from mocking disabilities, not catering to a disabled person’s needs, to wanting to exterminate disabled people (eugenics) to more questionable demands of only being able to say certain terms and adopting their view of neurodiversity. This is a word I’m trying to unlearn. And if you ever hear me say cisheteronormative again I want you to shoot me.
I may never be able to be an atheist because of a rigorous and successful brainwashing from an early age that likes to sneak into my mind from time to time and ask me ‘but what if it is real?’ But I can definitely become unwoke again. Although Wokeism and Pentecostalism seem to be complete opposites they use similar tactics to keep control of their members and both want all of society to bend to its will. It’s well known that in America certain religious schools have been training male students to be the next world leaders. Homeschools such as Ace Education and Generation Joshua have attempted to do that, and The Family, a non-denominational group that has influence over not just the US government since the 1940s, but the Australian one as well, including many other nations. They may not be Pentecostal but they prop up Pentecostal leaders who they let get away with unspeakable evil. I can only think that the fact that wokesters want people to adhere only to the terms they approve and tell them to stop doing basically everything else that could be mildly offensive, says they want to have this influence over society too. Or they’re simply just wanting people to stop being offensive and they haven’t even thought that far ahead. The fact that the media likes to bend to their will means this may just happen naturally.
I don’t think woke culture has ill intentions. I think it truly wants to bring out the good in people but it does this by forcing people to care, and that’s not how it happens. Goodness comes from within and we’re either raised this way or have to go through an ordeal to develop into this type of person. We’re not going to agree with what everyone says, and instead of turning on these people or blocking them out, we need to learn to accept different viewpoints. It’s actually better for activism if you get on with the job than worry about what the opposition is saying, because all the flame wars prove is that it makes them hold firmer to their views. Being petty and name calling just makes people be petty and name call back. So, it’s pointless and a waste of time, and it makes you look immature.
Stay unwoke. Shanti
– Sanjay Roy