What we mean by Heathen
Let’s be clear about a few things, to us the term Heathen is not a tough guy reference to a Viking Warrior of any sort and we are not making any statements on religion. We use the reference to religion as a metaphor for a structured organization.
By definition Heathen means:
noun, plural heathens, heathen. derogatory
a person who does not belong to a widely held religion (especially one who is not a Christian, Jew, or Muslim) as regarded by those who do.
Informal. an irreligious, uncultured, or uncivilized person.
In our metaphor, an organization, typically Military or Law Enforcement but may be a large company or team, and their blind rule following are what we consider as the “Religion”. The Heathen doesn’t “belong” to any “Religion” even though he is part of a “Religion”. A Heathen will freely and knowingly break the rules of the “Religion” and thus cannot be regarded as a full member of said “Religion”. He is a stand out, a rule breaker, someone who cares more about his purpose than the rules the “religion” has laid out for him. On the surface the Heathen will look like many followers of the “religion” and may even do things that only good followers do, but he will only follow the rules that he agrees with. As a result the real members of the “Religion” look down on him and use the term Heathen pejoratively. Ironically, Heathens are proud of the label and consider those that blindly follow the “Religion” as beneath them.
Heathens know that no organization or set of rules can be right all the time and in that knowledge they find comfort in rule breaking.
Many times Special Units are looked at as Heathens, who are part of the “Religion” but not true believers. This feeling of being an outcast reinforced the Heathen because he knows that sometimes you have to be different to be better.
A Heathen does not rebel against the rules for the sake of rebelling, that is a waste of everyone’s time. A Heathen has a higher purpose and views all rules through the lens of his purpose. We are former Military people our purpose was warfighting and we rejected some of the standard Military rules that didn’t fit our purpose. For example, having a squared away uniform all the time does not make you a better warfighter. Although sometimes, you need to show that you are capable of meeting the uniform standard, so you do it to show you can. Interestingly, “being on time” is a rule that may seem to be a petty rule that the Military harps on. Being on time is absolutely critical to effective warfare, so the Heathen does everything on time. A Heathen focuses on performance, not perception.
A Heathen has a solid moral code which he bases all of his decisions on. A real Heathen knows his purpose and who he is, so it is easy for him to know which rules to follow and which to break. To the uninitiated, the Heathen appears to randomly pick and choose what he wants. In truth, a Heathen is unflinching in his own morality. To others it looks like the Heathen is morally flexible but that is only because he is misunderstood by those who conform to the moral code expected of them.
We are Heathens in the sense explained above and we surround ourselves with the same. We know what it is to be flexible with following the “rules” while remaining steadfast to the purpose. To us, being called a Heathen is far from “derogatory”, it is a label of honor.