Posts filed under ‘Peace’
When people get too serious and grouchy- online or off, I often find one of the best ways to respond is with humor. In the spirit of Druidic satire with a modern twist, Alison Leigh Lilly has lightened the mood with a Polytheist Rap Battle.
On the more serious side, there was a much-needed discussion about Wiccan(ate) privilege at Pantheacon, Finnchuill & Lupus both describe their experiences. Unfortunately it didn’t seem to go as well as it could have, but it’s a start that the different factions agreed to meet and talk about it in person. There was a lack of understanding about what Wiccan(ate) privilege really is among many of the people there and so it was not truly recognized as being a problem. Anyway read their accounts, I wasn’t there.
Recons & polytheists typically know more about Wicca and similar religions than those adherents know about ours. Even those of us who didn’t go through a eclectic Neo-Pagan or Wiccan phase before settling on our current tradition still get a lot of exposure to it from other Pagans and the media. Whereas, unless you make an effort to learn about our religions, it is easier for other Pagans to be blissfully unaware of them. Lupus mentions making many attempts to invite others to rituals, read books, blogs etc. about Lupus’ religion, Ekklesia Antinou and Celtic Reconstructionism without getting much response.
Earlier on Ruadhan made some suggestions for etiquette and hospitality at Pan-Pagan events to be more inclusive of polytheist and reconstructionists- I think they are quite reasonable. I observe all of the etiquette that I am aware of or that is explained to me at Wiccan rituals, it is perfectly fair to expect the same in return.
I think at this point we are going to need allies within Wicca and similar faiths- there are some recons/polytheists who also identify/belong to such traditions, they would be natural bridge-builders. Also, those of us in ADF- an organization with a unique place between Neo-Paganism and reconstructionism, can do a great to help as well. Diplomacy is a traditional role of Druids after all.
“Irish diplomacy is the art of telling a man to go to hell so that he looks forward to the trip”- origin unknown (my good man Oscar Wilde maybe?)
I don’t shy from controversy- I speak my mind, often quite bluntly. Other times, I know when to keep quiet. I have been poring thru posts on Wiccan privilege, polytheist/pagan relations and attempting to add posts of my own, but then I realized there wasn’t much more productive that I could add. I wondered why is that with all these different factions fighting, I have been gaining a diverse group followers on my blog- from staunch polytheists, to spiritual atheists, to “pop culture” influenced pagans and so forth- and so far managing to get along with them.
Over time, I’ve gained a pragmatic approach to interfaith relations, and being an open religious minority. One approach can work well in some settings, with some people and subcultural groupings, but not others. I have a degree in political science, and much experience working on various activist campaigns. From them I have learned a lot about how to get messages across to people, what key words open up minds and discussions- and what shuts them down.
Telling personal stories- rather than using generalizations and statistics that people find hard to relate to. Meeting people where they’re at. We used these techniques a lot while calling people about the Minnesota anti-marriage amendment. We talked about our marriages, our family/friends’ marriages, and asked people to talk about their own feelings about marriage.
Ask polite questions about assumptions people are making- for example when someone at Pagan Pride tells you that you need to present a Wiccan format ritual because it’s “more familiar” to the public than a Hellenic ritual- ask How did it feel to go to your first Wiccan ritual? Was that confusing?
Positive redirect- When someone mentions using sources of information you think are bad, suggest better sources rather than just ripping apart the old ones. If they give scholarly sources a chance, they might start to see for themselves why they are better.
If someone seems to be engaging in cultural appropriation, suggest respectful ways about learning and approaching the culture in question. Use examples from your own experience- like I might mention going to an American Indian pow-wow and observing the etiquette that they discuss on the program of the event (easy!) and observing how other people around me behave.
Overall- Listen to people. Slow down and think before you respond in person or at the keyboard. And yes, set up a Pagan Tea Time (or whatever you want to call it) We miss a lot of nuances of communication due to lack of body language on the Internet. I wonder if, as an autistic person, whose natural communication style is purely verbal or written that I have some kind of advantage in this area?
Yesterday I went to an anti-war protest/march in Minneapolis. It was organized by the Iraq Peace Action Coalition, a group which I’ve never heard of, but there are so many of them. I found out about from this socialist e-mail list that I’m on. Anyways, the plan was that people were going to gather at noon at this plaza at Hennepin & Lagoon, and then march to a military recruiting station and protest there. We got there an hour late, so they had already marched away, but there were still people milling about the plaza with signs, tabling with info about their groups and such.
One of the first things we noticed when we got there was a big, hand-lettered banner that said “Really Really Free Market- brought to you by Your Friendly Neighborhood Anarchists” People brought stuff they didn’t want, or wanted to share, and anyone could come up and take as much as they needed. I went thru the piles of clothes, and found a couple of cool books that I took, and there was also a stand of free fruits and vegetables, so I helped myself to a peach. There was a table of free anarchist literature as well. This is, in a way a political action- it is intended to create a community-based, economic alternative, and conserve natural resources. They are planning on doing this once a month, so I’m going to find out where they have it, and bring some of my stuff too. Also there was this guy who had this bike that could carry 7 people, and he was letting people ride it with him, so my brother & I tried it out. We had fun doing all that stuff, and talking with people, and then the marchers came back and had a rally. We chanted, people spoke out against the war, announced upcoming protests and events. People held up signs and cars honked in support.
Chants: The People United, Will Never be Defeated!
This is What Democracy Looks Like- Bush is What Hypocrisy Looks Like!
It was a pretty good turnout- the organizers estimated about 320 people. The space was not large enough to accomodate a huge crowd. I felt like I was doing something to voice my opposition to the war, though I don’t know how effective it was- I wonder if there was any media coverage, it may not have been big enough. I had fun, and felt connected to the community and the peace movement.
*My brother took some pictures at it, so maybe I can post some of them here later.