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by Darrin Laurelsson
We Pagans are, at least in my community, a gregarious and social people. We long to make contact with others who share our views to a certain extent. But we are also relative innocents socially, and often fail to take into account that social interaction comes with both benefits and penalties. I could rant at length about this lack, but wish to focus on one misaccounting in particular.
Human beings, when interacting, often find that they disagree. This disagreement takes many forms. Sometimes it's simple miscommunication. Sometimes it's a real mistake, where one party is wrong. Sometimes, it's stubbornness on the part of one party, denying the reality about them. And sometimes, it's a genuine paradigm mismatch, where two worldviews conflict over a particular issue.
It happens all the time. Pagans are not an exception to this. Being human, tool users, and language users, we have no choice but to confront these sorts of problems in our everyday interaction with other human beings of every creed. And to, as the saying goes, cut 'em a little slack.
Most of us know this. But we often forget it when it comes to dealing with each other. We demand a higher standard of behavior, and can be most unforgiving when a person fails that standard. The result is almost always unpleasant. If you are active in your community, think back. When was the last time someone was ostracized? Who's fighting who currently? If you can't remember, you are either very lucky or very forgetful.
Have you ever had a conversation that explored the premise "what would our lives be like if the Dark Ages had never happened"? One can barely imagine it. One thousand additional years of Western progress. Or more, because the Crusades would never have destroyed Middle Eastern civilization and its highly advanced sciences.
Mind you, I am not saying that we are perpetrating such a crime now. Such a great loss of time, lives, and knowledge may (I pray to the Lady) never pass over human civilization again. But any loss of time is a great crime. And we, as a society and a culture, are wasting entirely too much time in small, petty battles over unimportant things. As a religion surrounded by a majority that is entirely too likely to turn hostile, we need to be more unified. As priests, we need to be more concerned with the health of both the individual and the whole. As artists, more interested in advancing the Craft of magick.
Each of us has only a limited time here (at least in the incarnations reading this article). You decide. How is that time best spent?
Important Note:This article is presented by the author as a starting point for discussion on the issue. Each author has submitted his/her article independently and may or may not agree with all the viewpoints in the entire series.
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