Work From the Inside First!
Article ID: 8947
Age Group: Adult
Days Up: 3,473
Times Read: 7,610
Author: Lori Dake
Posted: January 23rd. 2005
Times Viewed: 7,610
Since so many people have submitted essays on Paganism in the public eye, I thought I would add my fifty cents worth. Take it for what you will, and spend it how you wish, but I feel there’s something no one has really pointed out yet but needs to be discussed.
Over the years, I have met some truly wonderful people; people who tirelessly work for the Pagan community and beyond, and would offer the shirts off their backs if only asked. These people are very few and far between and unfortunately aren’t acknowledged often enough for their hard work. The one thing that truly makes these people stand out to me is that they are so - dare I say - “normal!” These people dress, talk and present themselves as Joe and Jane Americanas to the unwary eye. And to me, that’s the way it should be!
These wonderful people are levelheaded, without an overdramatic crisis every five minutes. They’re soft-spoken and usually purposely choose to remain in the background. They hardly ever “speak their minds, ” unless they feel they absolutely must, and never linger on a subject or hold grudges. They shop at the same stores their neighbors do, and their children attend the same schools together. These people are so special to me because they behave the way everyone else in general society does; in their so-called conformity, they stand out like twinkling stars in an otherwise starless night.
Personally, I am all about the hardcore, wild, heavy metal lifestyle. I’ve seen more concerts than many bands have, I closely associate with “undesirable friends” and convicted felons, and I find anything pastel to be absolutely gaudy! My home is decorated to Ozzy Osbourne’s standards, and I don’t own a single indoor plant - hubby finds them “messy.” I prefer the city to the country, especially the inner city (the more sinister, the better!) , and I prefer hack ‘n’ slash flicks to romantic dramas.
I have a friend who is very dear to me. She is always the first to volunteer for all of the toughest projects I put together and has never complained. We have joked many times how she is my polar opposite; the straight man in the stand-up routine, if you will. For every wild adventure I fill her in on, she has a much quieter adventure to share with me, but one with much more significance.
My friend’s outward appearance nearly glows with wholesomeness. She is an active member of her neighborhood and her children’s school. She is a busy homemaker who has less time in the day than I do, and by all accounts, is exactly what grocery store magazines like Woman’s Day want to encourage more often!
What many people don’t know about my friend, including some of her own family members, is just how much she does for the other community she belongs to: her Pagan community. “Normal” society would never assume as much, because people who walk and talk the way she does couldn’t possibly associate with Pagans! Oh, goodness no! She doesn’t give off any of the “telltale signs” of Paganism; she’s not a retro hippie, she isn’t a Goth, nor is she a vocal vegan.
Does this mean she cares any less about the environment, or about civil liberties, or the way the country is being run? Of course not! She cares just as much, if not more, than the vocal Pagan majority. She shows she cares in her quiet and gentle way of action. She remains calm and sees all angles, and always looks for that tiny speck of positive in an otherwise negative situation. And, on top of everything else, she takes all of the community’s opinions into consideration, whether or not she agrees with them or not.
In my opinion, she actually does more for our community than all the protesting and book writing in the world. She sets a precedent that puts us on the same level as most followers of other major religions; she is a human being first and a believer in a minority faith second.
In fact, I think the thing I like the most about my friend is how she does not bring her personal agendas or problems to the public table. She has no personal issues or hang-ups, at least none I have ever been made aware of in all our years of friendship. She does not mudsling, nor does she air dirty laundry. Does this mean she’s perfect? Of course not! My friend will be the first person to tell you she has plenty of imperfections, but she doesn’t dwell on them. She works on herself first, and then works from within to work throughout.
Breaking bad habits and trying to achieve a high level of being are not skills attained overnight. I was raised in a very bigoted household, and I still occasionally find myself reverting to old habits. I’m sure everyone has something in their lives they struggle with each and every day. I’m not asking all Pagans to unconditionally love and accept every other Pagan they meet. Acceptance is a fool’s dream and will never happen, but tolerance for each other is not as hard as it seems.
Our diversity is supposed to be our guiding light, yet we have let is become our thorn in our side. Too many times I have left a Pagan social early, because I couldn’t stand listening to the bickering anymore. Because we are human, we are not immune to bickering, but if we expect to be treated as equals, the bickering has really got to stop. Talking badly about our peers puts us in a bad light, whether we agree with them or not. People outside our community pick up on this, and bad press always travels faster than good. Do we really want the outside world to view us as a bunch of gossiping, church-wife harpies?
There are those who never seem to be happy unless they have something to complain about, or that they have nothing to discuss unless there is a dire situation at hand that needs immediate action. We have plenty of these topics, and yes, we need to act on each and every one of them, but not everything needs to be dragged out over the coals to get a point across. People have their own minds to make up; gentle suggestions and teaching by example get the point across a lot further than nagging and guilt trips. Isn’t that part of the reason why many of us left our childhood faiths behind in the first place?
Tolerate each other, and be well to one another, and yes: Have a nice day!
Location: Chicago, Illinois
Author's Profile: To learn more about Lori Dake - Click HERE
Bio: Lori Dake organizes children’s programs in her Chicago Pagan community and is well known for the Ostara egg hunt she puts together every year. She has also organized socials and other children’s festivals and activities, and gives a great deal of herself to public charities; any charity directly affecting children is her passion.
Lori and her husband run a heavy metal record label and hope to quit their day jobs within the next couple of years. Lori can be found at her personal web site at http://www.doomdiva.com, as well as her business site, http://www.rottingcorpserecords.com.
Other Articles: Lori Dake has posted 4 additional articles- View them?
Other Listings: To view ALL of my listings: Click HERE
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