The Missing Link: The Art of Debate
Article ID: 14752
Age Group: Adult
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Author: Crick [a WitchVox Sponsor]
Posted: September 25th. 2011
Times Viewed: 2,755
For a large number of years I have been sharing my thoughts on the pagan community. Having been on this spiritual/mystical path since 1960 has given me plenty of time to observe, interact and to make comment on the direction that the Neo Pagan community has taken. Though I tend to be critical in my observations, I have always strived to be honest. And one thing that I see constantly these days and yet something that is seldom talked about is the loss of the “Art of Debate”.
Whether you are pagan, Neo Pagan or what have you, there is a common thread that we all claim to aspire to and a tenet of perception that we each claim to be a participant in…and that is that we are accepting of each individual to choose the path that they wish to follow. In Neo Paganism, this tenet has created the eclectic folks, as we know them today as well as the solitaires, which choose to create and follow their own spiritual path. Throw in the many different understandings of paganism of old and you have a plethora of Neo Pagan paths/groups. And if that works for you, so be it.
Along with such an umbrella of beliefs comes the tenet of diversity, which goes hand in hand with acceptance. For one without the other is a half circle, with neither tenet being quite complete in its structure. At this point of reading, folks will be nodding and saying “but of course we follow such beliefs”. But do we as communities really adhere to the self-ascribed tenets that we claim to follow as Pagans/Neo Pagans? How many times have you attended a physical gathering or gone on line only to witness a so-called “witch war”? And how often were such disagreements over some inane difference in perception of what one should believe? Or what was proper technique or what have you?
The Neo Pagan community already has a huge challenge when it comes to showing cohesion and solidarity to those outside of the Pagan/Neo Pagan community as well as to those who proclaim themselves as members of such a community. Does petty bickering aid or disrupt such a challenge? Far too often the hypocrisies of our self proclaimed standards of behavior become all too evident by way of our own actions. Way too often we allow ego to be the standard by which we present ourselves to those within our own umbrella of beliefs. And one can only wonder how those of the Abraham beliefs and others perceive such actions.
It is one thing to claim to be a pagan who subscribes to individuality and who in turn is a free thinker. But to then to turn around and pass judgment on those pagans who do not follow lock step in one’s personal opinion of how things are or should be done? Let’s face it, spirituality, whether as an eclectic, solitaire or as a member of a coven, blot or what have you, is in all reality an individual pursuit. There is no one size fits all when it comes to spiritual growth.
And so what is the greatest roadblock in front of us that prevents us from coming together as a true community? Well, there are probably as many answers to this question as there are folks willing to step up and answer. To the mind of this old witch, it is the form and/or lack of communication that the current society engages in. And this observation seems to apply whether one is a member of the Pagan/Neo Pagan community or of the so-called mainstream.
When I was growing up back in the 50’s and 60’s, folks were able to engage in the art of debate. They were able to approach a conversation with the comment “I disagree because”. It was an unspoken understanding that each participant to the conversation had their own personal opinions and that they came to the table under the understanding that they would be able to agree to disagree. Under such conditions, even when divergent opinions are offered, there is an opportunity to learn from each other. And when engaging the mystical arts and/or embracing spiritual growth, such reinforcement is a positive experience for those who engage under the tenet of common respect.
But alas, these days, it seems as if everyone has to be right, which means that someone has to be clearly wrong. To my mind, such an approach goes directly against the tenets of acceptance and diversity. Especially in an age where many folks who have stepped onto the Pagan/Neo Pagan path are in fact new to such concepts and practices involving the mystical arts.
Yes we all know that there is a plethora of 101 paganism out there, which has been regurgitated time and time again. But for the serious student, there is so much more to learn. And yet these days many folks engage in conversations with the preface “you are wrong because”. If one is going to be a Pagan/Neo pagan and claim to be accepting of the tenets that define Neo Paganism, doesn’t such an approach “you are wrong because” seem like an oxymoron? None of us have as many answers as we might assume at times and all of us should have more questions than answers.
As freethinking pagans we should always be open to the thoughts of others in regards to our various paths, for at the end of the day they all lead to the same mountaintop. By taking a moment to listen to others without preconceived thoughts of our own rightness, we are giving ourselves a chance to adjust the way we approach our Craft and our spiritual growth. And by doing so we are adding an element of cohesion to the tenets of acceptance and diversity that will reflect our earnestness in establishing a valid and thriving spiritual community, a community that is based upon spiritual growth and serious study of the mystical arts.
And so the next time you enter into a conversation you might want to be prepared to agree to disagree rather than trying to prove the other person wrong. Is this approach not what being Pagan is really all about?
Location: Manheim, Pennsylvania
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