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Article Specs

Article ID: 8103

VoxAcct: 181153

Section: words

Age Group: Adult

Days Up: 3,766

Times Read: 3,358

Rights and Perceptions

Author: Kim
Posted: December 28th. 2003
Times Viewed: 3,358

Where are we really? In my experience, we have a long way to go before true acceptance is achieved. I live in the heart of the Bible Belt and I see the intolerance and the ignorance every day. Even those who are trying to be "accepting" are usually vaguely insulting.

While I am not in the closet, I don't advertise either. It would probably be detrimental to my husband's career and my children's social lives if I were completely out. My husband is a soldier in the US Army, as I was for 14 years. There is no greater example of a cross-section of the melting pot that is the United States. And yet, there is almost no acceptance among the higher ranks of who and what I am. I have had my superiors flat out tell me that I did not deserve my children, that I was going to hell, that I was an embarrassment to the military. Let's keep in mind here that this statement was delivered to me, a soldier with an exemplary military record, above and beyond the call of duty. Let's also note that this same man had been in more disciplinary trouble than several soldiers put together. But because I was Pagan, I was a horrible soldier and person.

Recently, a good friend found out that I was Pagan. Her e-mail to me stated that she didn't hold it against me and that it wouldn't affect our friendship. Excuse me? Wouldn't hold it against me? Am I supposed to be grateful that she isn't going to hold MY choice of religion against me? Shouldn't it have been a non-issue? How would she have felt if I had told her that following Catholicism wouldn't affect our friendship? Why is Paganism always something to be tolerated? I feel that I should expect the same respect for my beliefs that many of more mainstream religions DEMAND.

I own and maintain an extensive web site. I use and buy many graphics to design that site with. Since I have been on the internet, I have learned to CAREFULLY read all posted terms of use. Why? Because so many refuse to allow sites with Pagan content to use them. Even before I had that type of information on my site, on principle, I refused to use those graphics. But now I have begun to notice an even more disturbing trend. Not only am I apparently unable to appreciate and respect the work of others, I am also something to be vilified. I find it horribly insulting to read terms and see my religion listed with such things as vulgarity, obscenity, hate, pornography, and violence against children and animals. Soon, I will be opening a graphics shop of my own. Should I include in my terms that I do not allow born-again Christians, as well as child abusers and racists, to use my work? Would that go over well?

My point is that I think there is a lot of misconception out there about who and what we are. The first thing anyone says to me when they discover my religion is that I don't look like a Pagan! I try not to smack them across the head and to calmly explain that Pagans are as diverse a group as any other. I try to explain that Pagans are all around them: as doctors, teachers, plumbers, lawyers, mothers, fathers, neighbors. That there are so many more facets to Paganism than the ones they see portrayed in the media and in the movies. Some may very well fit the stereotype, while many do not, and that is okay! I am the perfect example of this. On the surface, I am a 33-year-old, redheaded, slightly chubby (little stretch there!), Army wife and mother of four boys. I spend my days in track pants and a ponytail, chasing kids, a cat and a puppy. I take my son to karate, help another with his homework. I bake cookies, clean the house, cook dinner, change diapers. My mom is my best friend. My favorite color is lavender and I love the hair bands of the 80's. I collect anything cow-themed. I wear a pentagram around my neck. That is the only outward sign that makes me different. And why is that? Because I am not any different. I love my life, my husband, my kids, my family, my country. And I love my God and my Goddess.

Too many non-Pagans assume they understand Paganism and all that it stands for. Not too long ago, I was rudely approached by a non-Pagan woman. She asked me if that was a pentagram around my neck. I said that it was and she immediately tried to rip it off my neck. When asked what her issue was, I was told that I was in love with Satan and deserved to die in eternal pain. So, I asked her if she really knew anything about my beliefs. She could not come up with a single accurate fact. So, I told her that my beliefs centered on the basic tenet of "An it harm none, do what thou will," basically the Golden Rule of "Do unto others as you would have done unto you." I explained to her what my personal beliefs were and how I lived my life around them. In talking to her, I was able to point out some of the similarities between her beliefs and mine. When we parted, she hugged me, thanked me, and told me that she had no idea how truly in line with one another her basic beliefs and mine were. Surprisingly, she and I are on the road to becoming close friends. She has asked to borrow some of the books in my library because she said she was tired of being ignorant.

I wish there were more people like her. I don't expect all people to completely understand my religion and all that it entails. All I expect is the respect to hold my beliefs and have them honored as valid as any other. I think there is still much work to be done before the Pagan community as a whole can be accepted as a valid religion, instead of as a passing phase or fad. Too many times, my beliefs are dismissed as invalid or temporary. Too many believe that Paganism is merely a cult or Satan's "cover" or that its followers are suffering from low self-esteem. On the brink of the New Year, my resolution is to be more open and honest about who and what I am. If it takes confrontation to foster knowledge, so be it. I am a Witch and proud of it!!!

Kiki Deister



Location: Fort Huachuca, Arizona

Author's Profile: To learn more about Kim - Click HERE

Bio: Kiki is a practicing solitary, following a green path. She has been studying/practicing for about six years and is always learning more. She is a US Army vet and a mom of four, trying to raise her family in the best way she can. She is also a small-time published writer of children's stories.

Other Articles: Kim has posted 1 additional articles- View them?

Other Listings: To view ALL of my listings: Click HERE

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