This first bit will be about contradictions within myself. I am generally really liberal when it comes to my political outlook. There are certain issues that I think the government needs to step in and control because when it comes right down to it, people can be as equally awful to each other as they can be kind. So health care and education are two big examples of this. BUT, I want to be clear in that I do not think that how the government approaches either of these is great. There are a lot of problems with public education and the Affordable Care Act, but at the same time. both are better than what existed before.
But yet, here I am, part of two very decentralized movements: the Paleo community and Paganism. With both, there are people who are considered "leaders," but yet, for the most part, we can find our own way, perhaps with Paganism much more so. There's no "Pagan Police" that I've really noticed because we're so loosey goosey, we can pretty much believe in whatever we want, even Jesus to an extent, and still be under the Pagan Umbrella. The "Paleo Police" seems to be at least becoming a good joke, though there are still plenty of purists. But there's no real infrastructure to either beyond some businesses, events, magazines, books, and most importantly, the Internet. They are what help each individual person live the lifestyle on their own because actual communities are few and far between. We can have our Meet-ups and occasional covens, but for the vast majority, we have the Internet.
So is the Internet going to be enough? Does either community need to become organized? To be honest, I'm not sure. Paganism in its modern form has been around since Gerald Gardner, and while we have more adherents than ever before, we still haven't gotten around to have real working authority. We've tried, but they have always flopped. And in some ways, I see that as a good thing because I do think that people corrupt themselves with power. But maybe we're not trying the right structures. In the meantime, we have Pagans who need more structure in their own practice (you're reading one right now), and because we are a religion, we need to have more who deal with issues such as education, birth, convalescence, death, charity, poverty, etc. The Paleo community has been a little bit better, especially thanks to folks like Robb Wolf, getting the groundwork down for college programs and actual research done.
Such research can only help the Paleo community overcome its image problem. There are plenty of complaints leveled at the Paleo diet in ways that while are uninformed and petty persist nonetheless. So I hope that eventually we can show how our way of eating is definitely valid and healthful beyond anecdotal evidence. But that takes time and money. As for the Pagan community, like I've said, we've been at it since the 1950s, we're still fringe, and we can't exactly prove the existence of the Gods instead of God singular. But research will still help as we need more academic literature beyond casting circles and doing spells. I think, though, part of the real issue is that we're still very much occult in the original sense of the word. And many of us, while largely educated, are still very poor (myself included). To boot, I think Paganism attracts the socially awkward, which doesn't exactly lead to success either (again, myself included). So we have these disadvantages added on to our image problem, which in turn make us unable to really create infrastructure, even though some of us really want it and need it. The Paleo community has less of that problem because the diet sort of requires a level of privilege enough to be able to afford this way of eating and living, especially when you live in the Northeast US like I do, so I think with the money and privilege that the Paleo leaders have, the kinds of infrastructure necessary to move us forward toward overall validity will happen.
I'm VERY curious as to others' thoughts here. Am I right or am I barking up the wrong tree here? What do you have to add?