Good Will Toward Men
Article ID: 4540
Age Group: Adult
Days Up: 6,609
Times Read: 6,420
Posted: December 17th. 2001
Times Viewed: 6,420
Dear Wren Walker,
"LUCIFER"...will WRENCH your beautiful neck with Hatred for all Eternity, if you finally choose to be his forever.
Wren Walker, consider carefully the Eternal Torture of Trillion and Trillion centuries to be repeated again and again forever. What is it that you are afraid most (sic)? Now imagine that this most fearful pain of yours will be done to you again and again Trillion-Trillion-Trillion-Trillion-Trillion-Trillion-Trillion-Trillion times again and again forever. ..Kick out all your Sins and return to God. We have seen your picture and e-mail address in the withches (sic) vox.
Love in Christ from Ruby and Joe (Catholics)
Well, 'Peace on Earth and Good Will Toward Men' right back at ya, guys!
Don't you just love this time of year? Maybe it's just the eggnog talking, but everyone seems to be so much cheerier during the holiday season, don'tcha think? Why I only saw two people giving someone the finger for taking 'their' parking spot today and only got honked at once myself for not jack-rabbitting at the mere suggestion that the light was indeed going to turn green. (RIGHT NOW...Go, Go, GO, dammit!) Yep, nothing like the holy-days to bring out the very best in people. So, in that same benevolent spirit, I'd like to thank Ruby and Joe (Catholics) for at least the 'beautiful neck' comment. And for giving me the topic of this week's little column. Yep, it's the big 'T'. No, not 'trillion' which seems to be the word of the weak..I mean, week...for our new email friends, Ruby and Joe. I am talking about the T as used in the word, 'Tolerance'.
Now I am not sure that we can ever really have a complete 'peace on earth' thing going on here. We humans like our squabbles and debates and nit-pickings way too much to ever completely give them up. How boring would it be anyway to be in complete agreement with everyone everywhere on everything? I mean, whatever would we DO with all the extra time that would be freed up if we weren't needling someone about their political leanings, reading materials or religious preferences? The malls are too crowded as it is and I for one don't want to relinquish my 'time crunch' excuse for not cleaning my oven every single day. That 'good will toward men (and women)' part sounds pretty promising though. Maybe we could try to work on that one for a while. And work it would be, too, because 'tolerance' is one of those squishy-squirmy types of concepts that always seems to be able to avoid the definitional fork with which you are trying to spear it. (Wren's note to self: Remember to make up a batch of those green Jell-O cube thingies.)
There are two aspects to 'tolerance'. There is the personal or individual idea of tolerance and then there is the legal or sociological viewpoint of tolerance. Both of these concepts may overlap at some points, but they are also often very different things. One truth that they do have in common is this: They are both conditional.
Tolerance is defined as: "1: capacity to endure pain or hardship; 2 a: sympathy or indulgence for beliefs or practices differing from or conflicting with one's own b: the act of allowing something: TOLERATION; 3: the allowable deviation from a standard; especially: the range of variation." (Merriam-Webster 's Collegiate Dictionary).
It goes without saying- but I am going to say it anyway because it is important- that whatever can be granted as an 'indulgence' can also be taken away. We are at the whim and general good mood of the granter for our 'tolerance'. And that is why we have to look at both the personal and the legal viewpoints on the word. They both can change- tolerance can be granted or withdrawn- at any time. It is simply a bit harder and a much lengthier process to change a point of tolerance that is written into law. That is why asking or expecting other religions to 'tolerate' we Pagans merely as an interfaith courtesy may not be as productive right now as would be focusing our energies into the upholding and strengthening of the laws which have 'tolerance' written within them. (That's just my opinion, of course, and your jolly ole mileage may vary.)
I don't have to care all that much if Ruby and Joe (Catholics) can't get over the fact that I have a perfectly good spiritual system of my own that in no way includes their 'god' with all his petty jealousies and threats of trillions and trillions and trillions (How many 'trillions' was that? I lost count again.) of centuries in fiery torment because I don't happen to dance to his particular tune. Either that particular god meant that 'free will' thing or he didn't. The 'freedom' to either follow meekly along or burn forever is hardly a real choice or real freedom. (Helpful Hint to other like-minded Christian Crusaders: Pagans don't respond well to threats of eternal and fiery damnation. They really don't.) Sound harsh? Too judgmental? Maybe too (gasp!) 'intolerant'?
Then this is indeed a good example of the 'personal' aspect of tolerance. Sometimes we 'feel' tolerant and sometimes we don't and how we respond will depend a lot on that and on our own personal history or past experiences. The point is not that Ruby and Joe are quite mistaken to think that someone who has co-founded an organization dedicated to the preservation of a certain set of religious and/or spiritual ideals would be even vaguely interested in being punished or otherwise kicked around by one of their own personal gods. The point is that my personal level of 'tolerance' for their 'offer' is solely mine to grant or withhold as I might choose. (Another Note to those like-minded Christian Crusaders: Don't even think about throwing that 'But Pagans/Wiccans/Witches have to be tolerant' line at me. THAT tactic doesn't work well with most other Pagans either. While we do tend to be open-minded and pretty much leave everyone to find their own spiritual path as they will, we aren't stupid, misguided or 'deceived'. And we aren't spiritual pushovers either.)
Personally speaking, I don't have to 'tolerate' such rude and selfish email remarks from Ruby and Joe (Catholics) if I don't want to. I can either send them back a nice, but firm, 'Thanks, but no thanks' reply. Or I can hit the delete button. Or I could sweetly attempt to show them my point of view. Or I can take their comments and use them as my sample case in point since I never could track down that guy who honked his horn at me at the traffic light.
But that is the limit of what I can do. Legally, that is. Since Ruby and Joe (Catholics) did not threaten me personally, there is no 'crime' here-except perhaps that of poor taste and less than perfect judgment on their part. The right to speak their mind is covered under law, as is their right to both follow and discuss and even to proselytize their religious beliefs. The 'tolerance' of the law- at least here in the United States- is currently pretty clear on that matter. Under the law, I have to 'tolerate' their rights in this matter and under the same law, they have to 'tolerate' mine. They can't threaten me directly nor can they have me thrown in jail simply for not believing in their god. They may not like it any more than I like their message to me, but the legal 'tolerance' aspect supercedes the personal on those points- and thankfully so. For Pagans and other minority groups, the legal 'tolerance' factor is very important. It is our main protection against those whose 'personal' aspect of tolerance would otherwise lead them to act upon their beliefs in more physically overt or unsavory ways. Should anyone cross that legal line, the law is there to take care of the punishment for that criminal trespass as well. The law is designed to protect everyone equally and I sincerely trust in and will continue to work for the preservation of the Constitution that makes this so. If you would like to read the official documents which support religious freedom both here in the United States and across the world, check out Voices of Freedom.
Now I did say that I thought the 'good will toward men (and women)' thing might be worth looking into. And I did say that it would take some work. And I do admit here that I am still working on it myself. I can't be, wouldn't want to be and would never claim to be any sort of spiritual guru for the Pagan community. So, I can't tell you where to draw your own personal boundaries when it comes to the personal aspect of 'tolerance'. You'll have to do some soul/spirit searching and figure that out for yourself. I would suggest however that you do learn about the laws that define the rights and limits of Constitutional 'tolerance' and do your best to see that these remain intact. Until we all can sincerely and honestly and mutually get to that 'good will toward men and women' point and really live it, laws will at least keep 'the only true way' rabidly religious profiteers in check.
Truth is, wishing good will towards those with whom we strongly disagree has always been a challenge. And many prophets, writers and seers from almost all of the world's diverse religions and beliefs (and from those good people who have followed none) have written about that challenge and yet still they have at the same time encouraged us to pursue that ideal. Whether we can indeed have a 'peace on earth' if we succeed in attaining that goal is unclear. But we can rightly say that we will never have any sort of real peace without the sincere offering- despite our differences- of good will towards our fellow man/womankind.
We all have a stake in the future of our little planet. We all have too much to lose by continuing to assault each other over religion or politics or territory or lifestyle. We all could use a little more 'good will' in our lives, couldn't we? Perhaps it could begin with each one of us making our own personal commitment to at least make an attempt at it and to stretch beyond our own personal 'whim' of tolerance to extend that 'good will' to another during this Holiday Season. And then maybe each year after this, it will become a little bit easier, a little bit more sincere, and a little bit more widespread until finally, finally our spirits have expanded to the point where all of man/womankind is included. It may not result in some utopian 'peace on earth', but it sure would make the world a better, safer and kinder place in which to live together.
This is indeed the season to be of good cheer and so the staff of TWV would like to wish all Pagans, Wiccans and Witches everywhere a very Happy Midsummer or Yule. May your homes ring with the clear laughter of happy voices, your hearths be filled with the golden warmth of true friendship and may all of your presents come wrapped up in love.
And- in that same spirit of good will- to Ruby and Joe, a very 'Merry Christmas'.
Walk in Love and Light,
Co-Founder - The Witches' Voice
Sunday, December 17th, 2001
Location: Tampa, Florida
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