The opinions posted on the Pagan Perspective pages are those of individuals and are not neccessarily shared or endorsed by the Witches' Voice inc.
Posted: Nov. 17, 2002
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Question of the Week: 32 - 3/12/2001
Why Are Kids Killing Kids?
And what can be done about it? Is violence so prevalent in societies today that it is inevitable that it will trickle down to our kids? What do you think are the causes of violence, uncivilly and alienation in today's world? What roles-if any-do you think the availability of guns, the 'cult of individuality,' the changing family structure or the fast pace of life play in these situations? Should schools keep the same hours as the workplace so those children are not alone for hours until the parents return from work? Are parents responsible? Should the right of all children to personal privacy be breached in order to curb the violence of some? Do Pagan philosophies offer any suggestions on how to help mitigate the problems facing a society in which violence is an almost daily occurrence?
| Reponses: There are 60 responses posted to this question.
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| Pagan And Wiccan Brothers And Sisters. Today Is A Sad Day Indeed... ||Mar 12th. at 4:21:05 am EST|
|Sammantha Moon Silver (bay saint louis, Mississippi US) ||Age: 24 - Email |
Pagan and Wiccan brothers and sisters. Today is a sad day indeed. Never as sad as what happened on February 20th 2001.Today I found the story and unfortunately have to write this right now. It is with sadness and tears in my eyes that I report on the suicide of a beautiful little 12 year old girl in Detroit.As I look at the image of this shy appearing girl I can not help but shed tears for her and her family. Why did she kill herself you are probably wondering at this point. She committed suicide after she was taunted unmercifully for a long period of time by her peers and fellow students for her interest in the Wiccan religion. Alone in her normal appearing bedroom much like the room of our own children, she slipped a leopard print scarf around her pale, fragile neck after tying the other end to her bunk bed and hung herself. She was rushed to a nearby hospital after mother found her alive, her little lips that used to smile and laugh, blue from lack of oxygen. There after being tested it was found that even though still alive by the help of life support that this talented girl had suffered unrepairable mass brain damage and would never live without life support and no longer had any thinking abilities. In other words Tempest Smith was gone leaving behind only an empty shell. Her organs were donated to save the lives of others and she was removed from life support. Now a child is gone because she could no longer deal with the taunting she received for her interest, beliefs, and ideas. It is horrific to know that a child lies alone and cold in the earth because of the small-minded prejudices of a community that did not understand a little girl trying to find herself and her spirituality. The worst part is these were children that caused this child her pain. These children unfortunately learned to hate and taunt anything that is considered different or beyond the normal. Many children learn this from their parents and the media. According the journal found after her death she was teased since early elementary school.(Insert from journal:" Everyone is against me. Still, death will come sooner or later for me. Will I ever have friends again?") The haunting, hopeless feelings Tempest privately expressed in her daily journal are shared by an increasing number of children. Although older teens commit the bulk of suicides, at least 300 children ages 10-14 kill themselves annually nationwide. After her death these same children saw what there taunting had done. They left apology letters at her grave. One from one child read as follows "I am sorry that it led to this, " was the message written on a placard. "None of it should have happened. If only they had understood, then you would still be alive." In this young childŐs innocence they spoke the absolute truth." If only they had understood". If only others were taught of alternative religions and given a chance to understand, this may have never happened. I personally believe this was an unnecessary tragedy. Only a small amount of education is required to stop such other tragedies from happening again. I would like to right now propose a nationwide campaign. That if successful will force every public school to hold a 4 week class regarding and teaching tolerance for those who seem slightly different. Whether it be due to religion, race, sex, age, appearance or any other basis of prejudice in this country today. How can you help? Please start petitions in your local area supporting this course as a required class. Send them into your school officials and government agencies. Also email me at the given email and join my email campaign that will be sent to Whitehouse officials and other in higher government. If you have any questions or want to help contact me. Either by email(Please put tempest storm in the subject box) or by my residence address(Please send S.A.S.E)
Sammantha Moon Silver
6156 E.Oktibbeha St
Bay Saint Louis, Ms.39520
I will be naming the campaign Tempest Storms in memory of the little girl named Tempest after being born during a violent storm. That died in a violent storm of emotional pain. Maybe together we can stop the rain of childrenŐs tears causes by cruel taunting.
Written By High Priestess Sammantha Moon Silver 3-10-2001 In remembrance of a little girl that died way too soon.Please help us stop this from occuring again.
| Why Do Kids Kill Kids? Why Can't Parents Punish Their Children? There... ||Mar 12th. at 12:23:51 am EST|
|Dove (Lakewood, Ohio US) ||Age: 36 |
Why do kids kill kids? Why can't parents punish their children?
There are so many different psychological analysis that could sum up an answer to this question. But, from a sociological perspective, and political....after all...everything is political: When parents, good parents are told they can not punish their children (especially at early ages) otherwise they are considered abusers...well. There is a significant difference between abuse and punishment; between a spanking and a fist in the face. And children know this! They are not studid. For many who get their way early in life, they tend to take more, and more and more....until there is nothing left but a life a take.
What we see is not rage in these children. We are seeing full blown temper tantrums! But, they know how to get their revenge! Mommy or Daddy's guns. Now, this is predominantly in the "White Bread" suburban areas. In the inner city, it's a different story all together.
You are dealing with a survival instict that's bread in poverty in a capitalist society and these kids know they are poor. They know there are only a few ways to get out. But, the fastest, easiest is unfortunately one of the deadliest. Its's a monster that was created from a system that keeps people down, in the name of lifting them up.
What is wrong with this entire scene in both poverty and wealth is government intervention in areas it has no right to intervene and Government neglegence in areas it should be focusing on
| Why Are Kids Killing Kids? I Don't Know. What Blows Me Away... ||Mar 12th. at 12:13:37 am EST|
|John (New Naumkeag) ||Age: 33 |
Why are kids killing kids? I don't know.
What blows me away is the selective focus (at least, in the U.S.) on this: a white kid kills some other white kids in a school, and it's top news; a black or latino kid kills (or IS killed) and it usually barely makes the news. What's up with that? And (duh) is *that* part of the problem too?
I think that also applies to self-killing, i.e. suicide, among kids. For example, Wren wrote about a child suicide on the cover page of this week's edition of The Witches' Voice, and she had a point to make. But here's the bigger point: that kid killed. She killed herself. (She also killed an enormous part of her mother and all the others who loved her.) Many kids were/are taunted at school, and they *didn't* and *don't* kill themselves. Why more kids are killing themselves *now* --when in previous generations they didn't do so as much-- over taunting or whatnot, is also worthy of consideration.
I do have to say this, which is kind of obvious. Whether it is a kid who shoots up his school, or a kid shooting/knifing/whatever others in the streets or a kid in her bedroom hanging herself: unless it's a case of self-defense, etc., these kids aren't the victims; they are the killers; by their killings, they *made* the victims. They --all three groups-- are all killing. For society to ignore the killing by black or brown boys, to only focus upon white boys who kill, and to treat suicides as some kind of different phenomenon is ridiculous. It's all killing.
Again, I don't know the answer to this week's question.
But, I wonder: Perhaps we should look not to pressures which can lead to killing (which have been around since the days of Cain), nor the tools which can be used in killing, but to focus instead on how to teach people to reorient those pressures so that they *won't* kill.
And on that subject, as an earlier poster stated so well, the old pagan philosophers had (and still do) have a lot to say... but that requires their words to be *taught* before they can be heard and lived.
| Hi!; Do Pagan Philosophies Offer Any Suggestions About The Current Problems Among... ||Mar 11th. at 10:40:50 pm EST|
|Tarostar (Toronto, Ontario CA) ||Age: 58 - Email |
Do Pagan philosophies offer any suggestions about the current problems among young people?
Well, they would if they were taught in the schools, as they were in my younger
I remember when Latin and Greek were taught in the High Schools and all the
Pagan Sages were used for translation practice. One would be very hard pressed to find such today in the schools. University level only teaches the Classics IF a certain number sign up for them.
Those Pagan Sages taught social, communal, national and ETHICAL responsibility.
They were removed from the class cirriculum after the Kennedy assasination,
when education experts "modernized" the system. Since then, two generations have grown up without the cultural anchors those Pagan Sages gave society.
Xtians can only say that if one would just read the Bible, everything will be alright. However, that tome has never made the World a better place; if anything,
it contributes to hatred and exclusiveness.
The Western World has inherited Classical Paganism as its bedrock direct from Ancient Times and through the Humanism of the Renaissance.
However, that bedrock has been set aside and not emphasized in the schools
and in the course of study for young people.
Pagans have had to educate themselves in these sages and pagan writers from the Past.
If Pagan Literature can again be taught, those responsible ethics will be absorbed by the young.
Xtianity is intellectually sterile compared to Paganism. Perhaps that is why the Pagan Sages are ignored.
However, the deeper one goes into Pagan Literature, the more one sees how much of a Pagan Greek Mystery Cult Xtianity really is.
It is belief in the dying/resurrecting God Man of Mystery Cult dressed in Jewish drag parading as History.
If we can put more emphasis on the available Pagan Sages, these current
problems of young people with no socially responsible roots can be solved. BB
| Merry Meet. Before I Start, I Want Everyone To Remember That This... ||Mar 11th. at 9:00:37 pm EST|
|Orionova (London, England UK) ||Age: 29 |
Merry meet. Before I start, I want everyone to remember that this is just an opinion.
I believe that this is not a new phenomenon. I know of cases of people seemingly going crazy for no reason and having a killing spree that date back over a hundred years. We are the descendants of violence. Once, it was socially acceptible to go out and kill a few serfs for the thrill of it. Humans had to hunt and kill game to feed their families. There were plenty of wars to give unstable people the oppurtunity to kill and maim as they wanted. They were even made into heros for doing so.
Unfortunately, I have no answer to the question of what can be done now. I just pray to the Lord and Lady that someone better able than I can find an answer soon. I do believe that tolerence is the key. Those in our society who have been taught to respect the differences inherent in our society must be at less risk of self-destruction. Hate-mongering leads to feelings of superiority and a belief that the person has the right to decide who lives, and who dies. We as Pagans are naturally more tolerant, but also more at risk of becoming victims.
| The One Most Common Factor In The Series Of School Shootings Is... ||Mar 11th. at 8:10:06 pm EST|
|Jonathan Hunter Neely (Hiawassee, Georgia US) ||Age: 14 |
The one most common factor in the series of school shootings is that the shooter(s) have always been characterized as a lonely person who has been constantly picked on by others. As a 14 year old Wiccan myself, I can understand the torment some kids go through becuase they are different or simply not liked. After the media gets hold of a shooting they always try to pin the blame on something like Heavy metal, roleplaying, books, religion, or another easy target. The school also tries not to make the shooter's classmates or the victim's classmates "feel guilty". What the school should realize though is that those classmates should in fact feel guilty. I believe that it is the people surrounding the shooter who caused such a horrible tragedy.
| There Are Lots Of Excuses Out There. The Parents Don't Care, There... ||Mar 11th. at 7:36:13 pm EST|
|Ashleigh (Azle, Texas US) ||Age: 16 - Email |
There are lots of excuses out there. The parents don't care, There is too much violence on TV, The lyrics to the song are too provocative. Well, I dont think any of those are right. I think the reason why kids are killing kids is because they are pushed overboard, they are stereotyped, they are criticed. Kids can be so cruel today. Just because someone dresses in black and thinks out of the majoraty they are rejected and stereotyped. They are being pushed beyond the point of return by there peers. The media made a big deal out of the columbine shooting because two kids who dress in all black, wear trinch coats and ae concidered "weird or different" shoot people and then take their own lives. But there are shootings all over the country who aren't publicised because of one of two reasons, either they dont want their school to look bad or they dont want to make the christian religion look bad. If a christian walked into a school and shot someone in the head and killed them, they wouldnt want the christian religion to look bad so they probably wouldn't publicise it. But if A Pegan teen walked into the same school and blew someones head off they would make a huge deal of it becaue they have the wrong perception of the pegan religion, we are preceved to be violent destructive people who are only here to cast spells and make people misrable and thats not the case at all. Blessed Be.
| Were You Tormented In School? The Following Is My Reaction To The... ||Mar 11th. at 7:32:14 pm EST|
|Tamara Bennett (Indianapolis, Indiana US) ||Age: 29 - Email |
Were you tormented in school? The following is my reaction to the Columbine shootings two years ago. My apologies in advance for the long read. Every time there is a school shooting I relive my childhood, knowing that it could have been me. I post in hopes that someone will learn something.
I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream
What happened in Colorado was a horrible, horrible tragedy. I am glad the kids mentioned on the mailing list I'm on were alive and I hope that they recover quickly. Someone mentioned that every time she puts her kids on the bus, she wonders if it will be the last time she sees her children alive. It's sad and also infuriating that it has come to this. It's all such an awful waste. The only good thing that happened on that day is that these two young men took their own lives, thereby sparing us the agony of a trial and the expense of their lifetime incarceration. The bad part about that is that we may never really understand why they did what they did.
My understanding of the perpetrators is that they considered themselves outsiders and that they were sometimes picked on by fellow classmates. They were quiet, loners, kept pretty much to themselves.... this is all pretty old and familiar stuff. I'd also bet that these guys tortured animals in their spare time. As a former quiet student who kept pretty much to herself and didn't cause trouble I can only offer my opinions on why this happened(FYI, I have NEVER tortured an animal and never will. I love my cat!). I DO NOT condone their actions. Make no mistake about that.
For ten years I was treated like a sideshow animal by my classmates. I was quiet because everything I said was ridiculed. I kept to myself because if I were noticed I would be tormented with name-calling, insults and tripping and shoving. Girls would write fake notes from popular boys asking me to be their girlfriend. They insulted my clothes, my hair and my face. From far off in the distance it was common for me to hear the exclamation, "Eeeewwww, it's the Ugly Girl!" They wouldn't let me have a seat on the bus. Sometimes I would be forced to sit with half my butt hanging off of the seat because they wouldn't scoot over, and then the kids behind me would kick my rear end.
They put Mr. Yuk stickers in my hair and laughed at me behind my back as well as in front of me. Whether I was wearing a butterfly hair comb or just putting on a little eyeshadow in the middle of class, I was continuously and relentlessly harassed for it. Many of the kids loved to call me a dog, and I'll never forget walking past a table full of cruel young boys at lunchtime to return my tray when they all started barking loudly at me in chorus. It was all very humiliating.
"I don't remember us ever being mean to them, " one girl said on CNN. "I just don't understand." She probably genuinely has no recollection of anything being done to those kids. I'm sure Tammy Mocas doesn't remember standing over my desk with a stapler, ejecting staples into my hair as fast as she could and laughing, and me sitting at my desk fuming, unable to react in any way. If I had reacted her entire gang would have tormented me, or I would have gotten into trouble with the teachers.
I'm sure Frank Lucas doesn't remember reducing me to tears in English class tormenting me because I didn't have many friends. Alex Cates probably doesn't remember that he made my life pure hell for a solid year in middle school. The snotty girls in show choir probably don't remember the catty faces they made at each other whenever I offered an opinion in class or the snide comments behind my back. I'm sure no one remembers that I was always picked last for a team in Phys Ed and I'm pretty sure the boys don't remember acting like I was a leper whenever I got near them. The kids who rode my bus probably don't remember their favorite moniker for me, but I do. They called me Refried.
I don't know the extent to which these Trenchcoat Mafia members were singled out for this sort of treatment. The girl I saw on CNN may not have even known or said one word to them, good or bad. Not everyone tormented me in school, but I grouped them all together because the ones who didn't pick on me were going along with the behavior of the rest of the kids. If they didn't torment me, I was social poison to them and they didn't want to be caught dead or alive around me.
It's so easy to become isolated, bitter and angry in an atmosphere like this. People wondered why I walked around with such an angry expression on my face all the time. They wondered why I wore the colors of the other school on so-called "spirit days." They had crushed my "spirit." These people were inhuman to me, I thought, why should I support the system that had made me miserable? They wondered why I was so quiet. They wondered why I dressed differently; it never occurred to them that the last thing I wanted was to be anything like them.
Had there been such a thing at the time, I'm sure the teachers would have put me into an anger management class. I was the one with the problem, not the kids who had put me through the adolescent mental equivalent of a POW camp. They were good kids who got good grades and went along with the social norms. They did things so-called "normal" kids do, such as sports, not sitting at the top of the slide at recess with their noses stuck in a book.
I survived because I knew that someday, somehow, I would be released. For a very long time there was no escape from this hell. I couldn't quit school, and I couldn't run away from home. I couldn't retaliate. It was like having no mouth and needing desperately to scream. Tearful pleas for intervention from staff members were brushed off. Time goes by painfully slowly when you're a kid, and I would watch the hours go by so very slowly, knowing that each hour that passed meant I was an hour closer to freedom. Someday I would graduate, turn eighteen and be free to go as far away from all of them as I wanted. A lot of kids can't see that far ahead. It's hard to see a light at the end of the tunnel when someone is standing in your face harassing you 24/7.
Now, years later, I see reports on the news that the way the kids torment one another has grown a thousand times worse. Being picked on and teased is no reason to pick up a gun and start shooting, but it sure is making a lot of kids angry enough to do it anyway. I'm NOT saying that it's anyone's fault that this happened, but I AM asking, when will we as a society teach our children that it is WRONG to torment others? Does anyone take their children aside when they see them harassing other kids and tell them it's wrong? Does anyone teach their children to reach out to the lonely and the quiet?
The kids I knew who tormented me went to church on a regular basis. I thought they were supposed to learn about compassion and caring for their fellow humans. Instead they returned to school on Monday with a holier than thou attitude straight from hell. It was like a pack of wolves turning on one of their own.
We take so many great pains in our adult lives to be politically correct so as not to offend any adult in the slightest, but when a child is relentlessly harassed for trivial minutiae we just sit there and say, "Kids can be cruel." If I spit on you, I can be arrested for assault. If I harass you, you can sue me for everything I have. The tormented child has no recourse against a bully. Parents often have no idea what their children are suffering through and teachers turn a blind eye to the torture. Most people laughed at the movie Revenge of the Nerds. Unfortunately these days that revenge is very lethal. The kid you make fun of today may become your assassin tomorrow.
Sometimes I wish I had been born just ten years later so that I could have grown up in the age of litigation. I could have retained a lawyer and sued the school for nurturing a hostile environment and driven the school system into bankruptcy. I have a feeling that's what it will take to finally get schools and teachers to listen and do something about it. People seem to pay attention only when it hits their pocketbooks. Obviously when human life is lost they couldn't care less.
To this day I have frustrating dreams that I am being forced to go back to high school with all of my former classmates. I'm going to get picked on again. I haven't done any of my homework because it's taking all of my energy just to survive and I am frantic that I won't graduate and be done with them. Then I remember that I'm an adult, dammit, and I go to my car... or try to anyway.... dreams can really suck..... at any rate, most of the stuff in school was boring and useless anyway. I would have been better off if they had shown me how to change a tire or hunt for an apartment than all that Shakespeare crap. That's what they put me through hell for: stories most people don't care about and x + y stuff that most people never use.
Considering life a precious commodity, I was and still am strongly convinced that there is very little in this world that is worth killing or dying for. I guess the kids now disagree. I don't know why the kids just don't care, even the ones who don't have any reason to have lost all hope. Maybe all the television and movie violence has desensitized them, or maybe their parents don't discipline them. Maybe it's all this Ritalin we keep feeding them like M&M's. Maybe it's all the guns lying around.
Banning guns won't work, mostly because the solution is just too simple for such a complex problem. The boys in Colorado had home made bombs in addition to their guns. It's amazing what you can make with household chemicals. Any idiot can mix bleach and ammonia and create a deadly gas. Want to have some fun? Get yourself some common household items and put 'em in a two-liter bottle and seal it up. When the product dissolves it produces gas and the bottle will explode. Not two weeks ago a little bomb like that detonated in the very mall parking garage I use every day. Do you want to ban household cleansers? If they had used butane lighter fuel, would you close my store?
A hundred years ago, kids and teachers alike brought guns to school every day, and you didn't have incidents like this. Everyone was armed and anyone who wanted to go on a killing spree would have been stopped. The Neo-Nazi garbage I'm now hearing about is also very frightening. Should we stop teaching kids about World War II and the Holocaust? I wonder what a survivor of Auschwitz would say about that.
Should we put Prozac in the water supply? Should we ban trenchcoats? Should we send all the quiet ones to Charter Hospital? I'm not a genius, and I don't have all the answers. I'm just a quiet goth girl with a word processor and a little too much time on my hands
Ironically, a letter concerning my ten year class reunion arrived in the mail the day of the shooting. I probably don't have to tell you where I put it.
Tamara K Winfrey Bennett
| I Am Constantly Startled At The Use Of Gender-nuetral Words To Describe... ||Mar 11th. at 7:14:24 pm EST|
|Claire (Asheville, North Carolina US) ||Age: 16 - Email |
I am constantly startled at the use of gender-nuetral words to describe boys who shoot their classmates. It is not children of both genders; it is specifically teenage boys. (This is not to suggest that teenage girls are untroubled, just that they have not responded in this particular way.)
I am a teenager, I attend a public school, and I've thought a lot about this. The tenative conclusion I've reached is that the cultural ideal of masculinity expresses emotion only through action, and often through violent action. Young boys are not encouraged - or, sometimes, allowed - to cry, or talk about their emotions, or respond to emotional pain in any way but punching someone. The violent images pervading the media mainly portray a man who lashes out emotionlessly and ruthlessly to gain vengeance, to remove 'obstacles', or sometimes even for his own entertainment.
What else is there for young men who have been pushed to their limit to fall back on, but this image of the glorious avenging male? What other opportunities for catharsis, for coping, for ending a horrible situation are they shown?
I am not insinuating that this is the only factor, because the stresses a teenager endures are great and varied. But I do think that this particular response to those stresses has a specific, identifiable (and hopefully curable) cause.
And just one note, to adults frightened by the events in schools recently: my parent's generation had drills where they hid under desks from nuclear missiles. My generation has drills where we hide from kids with guns. Between the two, the kids with guns are a lot less scary.
| Okays Maybe It's Just Me But I'm Sick Of Some Of The... ||Mar 11th. at 7:08:35 pm EST|
|NightTiger (Liverpool, New York US) ||Age: 16 - Email |
Okays maybe it's just me but I'm sick of some of the lame a** excusses I keep hearing. "(IE) There's too much violence on tv, no one lives in the name of god, parents aren't around, no one cares about children any more, " ect ect just to name some of the few stereotypical responses I've heard. I don't blame any of these things because I can see the change just in the difference between myself (a JR in school) and the sophmores in my school. Something happened between the generations of kids.... As pointed out in Political Correct... 30 years ago there were guns available (if not more), violence in tv shows, abuse between men/women/children, and kids were stilling being teased. I'm not sure what is wrong, but somewhere along the lines children started an attidue of "We rule, Screw me, no. Screw you." Attidtue that seems to have done nothing to help the situation.
Just my ideas... Bright Blessings
| Having Just Read In Wren's Nest About Tempest Smith I Think That... ||Mar 11th. at 2:01:16 pm EST|
|Dan Dales (Quebec City, Quebec CA) ||Age: 41 |
Having just read in Wren's nest about Tempest Smith I think that it is a disgrace that our community is still debating about whether we should be open to
teens.Are we not supposed to be worshippers of the Mother Goddess and if so how
can we turn our backs on people just because they are teens.
Yes would be Sabrinas are a pain in the ass but that is a very small price to pay if it means that 1 Tempest could be saved by a Pagan community that welcomes
We need the teens that are becoming intersested in paganism and they need us and we will be serving the Goddess by opening our arms to those teens.
I realise that by doing so we can be opening ourselves to trouble, including lawsuits but sometimes we have to take a stand or things will never change.
Tempest was not the only teen out there feeling isolated and alone and we will
pay dearly as a community if we allow our persecuters to drive more of them to suicide.
The Tempests are not only Pagans they are the future of our community and if we are what we claim to be we will protect and nurture the Tempests out there.
| I've Already Posted, And Wouldn't Be Doing So Again On This Question... ||Mar 11th. at 7:55:20 am EST|
|Raindancer (Christchurch, New Zealand) ||Age: 52 - Email |
I've already posted, and wouldn't be doing so again on this question, but I read the story of Tempest Smith.
I had to speak out regarding Tempest.
Even though I am much older than she was, I know all too well what its like to be on the receiving end of taunts and ridicule. Its the price you pay for being different, for not being "just another brick in the wall". I lived that way too from the age of 5 onwards, until I graduated from High School. I was different from everyone else, and I paid for it and faced it alone.
Wicca, and Paganism is supposed to be about responsibility for what we do, and we are supposed to be a community, we are a people. I just can't help but feel that if we are, we should start acting like one. We should be supporting each other, old and young, not tearing each other down.
Tempest was a brave young lady, who had to endure the vicious scorn, derision and ridicule of the Christian dominant religion who somehow equate their hate with the love that they say Jesus preached. They protect their beliefs as if should anyone dispute it, that it would shatter like a glass dropped on concrete. Theirs is a fear born of insecurity.
But when Tempest was facing her tormentors, where were we? Where was the pagan community that could have supported her, and given her strength to carry on, to be brave enough to live through another day? Was she the only pagan around? Or were there people who were elders who could have helped, but couldn't see past the Black Gothic clothing and the rest?
Where were they? Did they dismiss her as just another strange kid looking for some kind of new thrill or some kind of dark fantasy? Did they scorn her as not being worth wasting the time on? Did she seek them out only to be turned away? Was the Pagan Community no better than those others who drove Tempest to despair and death? Where were we when Tempest died?
The teenage years at best are turbulent, and difficult, even if you aren't different as Tempest was. How many of us as adults live in the "Broom Closet" for fear that we may suffer reprisal for our beliefs? How many of us hid safely in those closets when Tempest, who had to be true to herself, and what she believed in or die, walked alone along her path until she could bear no more? Where was our courage and love, where was our community when she finally sought solace in returning to Mother Earth, when no one else would have her?
Tempest Smith was young, and she was different, just as we are, but who had the courage to come out of hiding and tell Tempest that she was not alone? Life as a young person is hard, but how much harder is it when you are beseiged by everyone you know, and a lot of people you don't? Perhaps if even one older pagan had taken the time and trouble to see beneath the Gothic clothing and gave her welcome, encouragement, and above all, the knowledge that she was not alone, Tempest might be alive today.
Someone spoke of elders protecting our religion, but is our faith so fragile, that sharing it can shatter it? Are God and Goddess so vulnerable that we must shield them from all but others like us? Doesn't anyone feel that They can take care of themselves quite nicely thank you? Who are we to look at the way someone dresses, or their age, and decide that Wicca shouldn't have someone like that within it? Is it so delicate?
Are we to take upon ourselves the right to decide that some person who wants to know about Witchcraft, is not the right sort because of the way they look or their age? Do we trust, or not trust God and Goddess to handle the situation and the person properly and with wisdom? Is our faith so insecure, that we can't tolerate someone different? If so, then are we no better than those others who beat Tempest Smith into the ground?
Responsibility... if we are a community, we are responsible for our owm. As human beings, we have a responsibility to help ease suffering where we can. If we could help but chose not to do so, because of prejudices and the like, if we withold our support and guidance when we could have given it, then we have to share in the responsibility of those who witheld love and understanding from this unhappy young lady.
Tempest Smith was different and she was young, she paid a price for that, and whether we are among those who taunted her or those who held back when we could have helped, we all have some bit of the karma from her tragic death. A little bit of love was all that was needed, but none was given.
We complain about the ignorance of those who scorn us for being who and what we are, how then can we turn around and inflict the same on someone else, on one of our own? Everyone has something to offer, young or old. We should offer it freely with love in our hearts, and trust in God and Goddess to do whats best.
Wicca as any religion, should be a spiritual quest and a path of growth toward wisdom. Who are we to look at another and judge by irrelevancies what their path will be? Don't we get enough of that from the outside world that we have to turn around and inflict it on ourselves? What gives us the right? We have no idea what the Goddess and God have in mind for them, who are we to judge and decide?
Let us leave each to decide that for themselves, and take responsibility for their choices, as we do for ours? Isn't that how we learn? Isn't that how we become adults? These young people, like Tempest Smith, have chosen a path, as we have, that requires courage and dedication, and a certain amount of risk, we should not make them have to walk it alone.
Again, if we're a community, then we must start to act like one. If we are the Craft of the Wise, then we should use some of that. If our faith is truly strong, then let us give it to those who seek it, and trust that it will survive this. The strength in a community is in the support that its members give to each other. Tempest Smith taught is that, lets not waste the lesson.
May our Mother hold her gently as a baby in Her womb, and in the fullness of time, may she return to us, and may we make a place for her when she does.
Blessed Be... Raindancer
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