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Article ID: 5503
Age Group: Adult
Days Up: 4,040
Times Read: 7,632
Author: Patricia Telesco
Posted: February 16th. 2003
Times Viewed: 7,632
We often speak very respectfully of the neo-pagan ability to network quickly and effectively. And I would be the last person to say this aptitude isn't "good" -- but it is a power the community needs to use wisely. Words, especially those over the internet are easily misconstrued. Ideas or information trickling down through different people can also loose shape and coherency, not to mention truthfulness. Indeed, the danger in our networking is what we might call the fish story -- it doesn't matter if you caught the fish, how big it really was, if you let it go, or if you got turned over in the boat. The reality is that somebody is either going to embellish this information, or pass it along to those who really have no reason to take interest (or be involved) in this now very muddy adventure.
Yes, this type of response is very human -- it is also IMO irresponsible and potentially very hurtful. In the last two years many among us have seen the horrific consequences of personal issues being exposed in a public forum, such as that of a coven or an extended community. We have also watch with some dismay as those issues suddenly pop up in discussions half way across the country with total strangers.
Let's put this into a functional example. Say a coven's Priest and Priestess have a falling out. The individuals go to their coven mates to talk, to work through problems, and get some much needed support. Sadly, at least one of those consulted feels they MUST get more involved --- and they call or email other people in the coven with but one perspective of the situation. A few days later the whole coven is up in arms -- and being asked to choose sides. Worse still, people with contacts in other communities or tribes are likewise getting wind of the broo-ha-ha, which in turn adversely affects anything the coven hoped to accomplish. While this is only one illustration, I think you can see how the dominos can fall very quickly (and without much forethought as to where they may land) when gossip gets rolling.
Why, exactly, is this happening -- why is it that the very same skills that give us strong networking ties get used for gossip in matters that should remain PRIVATE and not affect community at all? My initial knee-jerk answer every time I hear about another person, family, group or organization harmed by such "whispering" is that the individual(s) responsible need to "get a life!" However, that's probably not the most proactive way to handle things. Rather, the time has come to grow up emotionally and recognize what is, and is not, community business.
Yes, of course, some of our personal lives will affect those people in our communities to whom we're close. Some might even affect the structure of a coven for obvious reasons, but that doesn't mean we have the right to interfere and to begin playing push-me, pull-you with dozens of other people who have no personal role to play in a particular situation.
So the next time you think about picking up the telephone, or writing an email about something you've over heard, or something that another has shared ask yourself these questions:
All of this may seem like common sense, but sadly it seems to elude even some otherwise very insightful, adept neo-pagans. Our heart yearns to help -- to do something. Nonetheless, there is great wisdom in stopping to think before we speak or act. Being prepared to take action if called upon is one thing actually doing it is another. And sometimes that "call" comes from a "wrong number!"
- Was the sharing in confidence? If so, do I have the right to express this anywhere else without asking permission?
- How much do I know -- how much am I assuming?
- Who exactly does this really effect (i.e. is this really community business)
- Whose perspective is represented here (do you have the whole picture)?
- Is this battle really mine to fight (or to even be involved with on the "fringes")
- Does this effect me, and if so in what way? Do I need to do anything about that effect to avoid misunderstanding in this relationship (be it with one person or dozens). If your answer is yes, please keep such communications limited to only those directly involved (think: "need to know" basis)
Seek out your inner voice and Spirit's guidance long and hard before jumping into the fray. Not only can it save you from being embarrassed or getting caught in a tangled web, but it may also save individuals or whole communities from potential disasters. Remember the saying about "good intentions?" No matter how good ours may be there are places we are meant to walk; wheels we're meant to complete... and others where we should not tread. Wisdom comes in knowing the difference.
February 17th., 2003 c.e.
Bio: Patricia Telesco is the mother of three, wife, chief human to 5 pets, and a full-time professional author with more than 30 metaphysical books on the market. These include Goddess in my Pocket, the Futuretelling, The Herbal Arts, Kitchen Witch's Cookbook, Little Book of Love Magic, Your Book of Shadows, Dancing with Devas and other diverse titles, each of which represents a different area of spiritual interest for her and her readers.
Trish consideres herself a down-to-earth, militant Kitchen Witch whose love of folklore and world-wide customs flavor every spell and ritual. While her actual Wiccan education was originally self trained and self initiated, she later received initiation into the Strega tradition of Italy, which gives form and fullness to the folk magic Trish practices. Her strongest beliefs lie in following personal vision, being tolerant of other traditions, making life an act of worship, and being creative so that magic grows with you.
Location: Amherst, New York
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