Article ID: 14232
Age Group: Adult
Days Up: 1,287
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Author: Lori Dake
Posted: January 16th. 2011
Times Viewed: 3,350
Many times, I will post a comment somewhere on ‘Teh Interwebz’ or state something at a social gathering that goes against the grain. Because of my unconventional views, I am either automatically dismissed for being ________, without even giving my thoughts the same consideration as what others receive. It becomes even more puzzling when I do agree with the general consensus, and my views are still dismissed. I suppose I should just chalk it up to sheeple mentality, wanting to be encompassed by bobble-headed yes men, and I usually do, but I must admit, sometimes it really annoys me.
I'm just... complicated. My beliefs are not at the forefront of everything I do, nor is my family, my view on politics, my business, my diet or even my fashion sense. I believe everything should be in balance, and those who pour everything into one issue miss the big picture of why we're even here. It's true we can't please everyone all of the time, but what does it take to please at least the majority once in a blue moon? I suppose I'll never be a good politician, simply because my views are indeed so complex.
I suppose I just wonder if there are other Pagans out there who feel just as isolated. At this time of year, we Magical Folk are brought out into the spotlight, and for many of us, it can become rather unpleasant. “She doesn't speak for me!” is always going to surface, unless the interview is so sterile and generic that the final draft becomes a rather boring read. I “dress up” for the Sabbats, but sometimes I feel more comfortable in jeans and a t-shirt. The time the Chicago Sun-Times sought my family out for the standard “What Real Witches Do” article some years back, we put on our garb and set up our altar for the photo op. It felt incredibly staged to me, but I went along with it, as I know it's important to let the world know us otherwise “normal” folk do indeed exist. I tried to be as inclusive as possible with my responses, but when the article appeared in the paper a couple days later, I was kind of displeased with myself for wishing I would have put my foot down a bit more sternly.
Since then, I've made it my mission not to concern myself too much with making everyone happy, and it's ended up isolating me more than made me welcome in my own community. For example:
- We homeschooled our son, primarily so he would receive a solid education in a safe and nurturing environment. (Anyone who's watched the news in the last couple of years is well aware how bad the public high schools are in Chicago!) Because most homeschoolers still fulfill the stereotype of hard-line Christians, it was quite an effort to develop a secular curriculum that had a slant toward our beliefs and values.
Most Pagans I've met send their kids to public schools, even if the schools aren't good, because they harbor the socialistic ideal of making the schools better. That's great on paper and an ideal I do endorse, but at the end of the day, I simply could not risk our son's education and well-being suffering due to my politics.
- While I tend to sway toward the liberal side of things, I find myself occasionally siding with the Republicans and Tea Party folks on several issues. I may be fiscally conservative, because I do focus on the bottom line, but I take people into consideration with those facts and figures. What looks good on paper can in fact be decidedly cruel. However, just like the courts, I do not accept ignorance and stupidity as excuses. In that vein, I whole-heartedly endorse furthering educating the public about social aspects, because I believe by doing so, a lot of our financial problems can be quelled or even eliminated.
In New York, they're looking into banning soda from being used with food stamp dollars. I think it's a wonderful idea, because it serves no nutritional value. It's a great start, but I would like to take it further, sticking the shopping primarily to whole foods that need to be cooked. Some people cry out against it, citing those who are homeless or disabled from being able to feed themselves easily on a shopping list as that. I believe if the food stamp program was run more like WIC , which I have used both in my time of need (and have since paid back the taxpayers in spades!) , where cooking and nutritional classes are offered and severely limits what can be purchased (though I'd add fresh fruits and vegetables and make farmers markets required to accept the vouchers) , most of those issues would be dissolved. The taxpayers would be satisfied, and the stereotypes would be lessened.
- I believe there will always be a need for a well-funded and active military, if for no other reason, there are some seriously evil people in the world who would walk all over us otherwise. I am well aware this is a very hot topic within the Pagan community, and my thoughts on the matter  have been met with opposition, and at times outright hostility. Yes, I have a personal stake in the matter, but that is actually beside the point. I am very proud of our son, and while I too wish for peace, sometimes, it really does have to be gained with a sword rather than a pen. Bullies and terrorists of any variety, especially those who have no fear of consequences and are actually rewarded for their martyrdom, do not do sit-downs. They're nuts, plain and simple, and no amount of tolerance extension and sensitivity training is going to change several generations of hate and violence.
The American military culture has made vast improvements over the years in educating their personnel in acceptable ways to train their Warriors. In fact, the military was several years ahead of the curve with accepting black soldiers as equals , even if it was due to ulterior motives. (Sometimes, people just accept/tolerate things in spite of themselves. “Ya gotta do what ya gotta do, ” is a pretty common mantra.)
But sadly, there is still a long way to go before dogmatism, racism, misogyny and homophobia are no longer issues. It's a work in progress, and from all the thousands of posts I've read and conversations I've had with military folks, I can have faith times are indeed changing. There is simply so much information out there, and many new recruits are accustomed to the new cultural landscape we civilians take as standards, so I say to please have patience but be vigilant nonetheless.
- We are equals, but we are not the same, and I think sometimes, people forget that. Variety is the spice of life, and in my experiences, in no other religious community is that more obvious than in ours. As we know, if one asks ten Pagans what they believe, they will get twenty answers. We don't subjugate ourselves to a strict list of do's and don'ts passed down to man from a single, authoritative deity who uses fear to instill blind obedience . Many of us were raised in just such a religious background, and our questioning of the aforementioned list led us to find another path that will lead us toward divinity.
Sure, we'll climb that mountain with some of the same people, and we should expect to give and receive a boost whenever it's truly needed. But never should we expect those people to be beside us the entire journey. If I think someone is going to follow a road that leads to a dead end, or if I think the path I'm taking looks a lot easier/more direct/quicker, I will probably disagree with him or her. But, as long as that person isn't going to cause harm to others, I'll wish the fool good luck with that. (Ha!)
So yes, I'm complicated, but that's because I'm Pagan. The way I see it, we should all be just as complex, even if those complexities don't have a whole lot in common with mine.
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