Monday, January 16, 2012

I Have a Dream ... And a Ukulele

I believe in living actively, not reactively. That especially applies to my spiritual path. The hardest time to do this is during conflict, which is all the more reason for me to ground, deepen my roots, and grow. The time to shield, I am learning after all these years, is before you need it. And hey, even when something's eating you a bit, it really can make you grow stronger.

Now, none of this is a reference to my personal life at the moment, which is stable and peaceful. I'm referring to the nature of my spiritual community. There are fewer of us Pagans than there are Christians, by a long shot, I'm sure, yet over the years I've found  one faith minority or another doing their thing only to have someone oppress them in the name of Jesus and then cry persecution.

Those in the majority culture blurt out things from the crowd that they would never say as one individual to the other. They even make threats. They forget their own Beatitudes, for that moment, let alone the Golden Rule, and they forget that Pagans and other faith minorities are their own family, their coworkers, maybe even their friends.

This subject is not purely an intellectual exercise for me. I have attended ritual in a park (with a permit) and had angry neighbors come out and harass us to make us stop our practice; the police had to intervene. I wouldn't dream of doing something like that to my friends and family in their churches, nor would any Pagan I know.

I have known a Pagan child in my own community who was harassed by an entire public school. The harassment and the threats did not, surprisingly, make her want to conform; in fact, she began home schooling shortly afterward. She is a brilliant and articulate adult now and every bit as Pagan these days, possibly more so. Unfortunately, over ten years later, folks still haven't learned any lessons in that neck of the woods.

I have recently come to realize that Christians will not often come to the defense of the outsider (although I am happy and grateful when they do). More often, they resort to the 'No True Scotsman' defense and leave it at that. It is up to us, the minority (and who and what we believe in), to make our own lives better.

While I'll refrain from putting words in Martin Luther King's mouth, consider a few of his own and think on this: 'We know through painful experience that freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed.'

As for me, I intend to do what I should have done years ago: learn some more Pagan music.

That's not a tangent. Here's why: we are not the opposite of anything. We are not a void. We have our own music. A friend was recently kind enough to post a huge list of modern Pagan musicians, and ancient choices are also available online (to be linked later). What's more, I have a new ukulele.

This matters because my little friend in Asheville, those many years ago, might have had an easier time if she'd been able to present more Pagan musical choices. It's a small thing but not so small. It is something we do, part of our religious heritage, whether the songs were written 10,000 years ago or last week. We do our thing. We keep on truckin'. We are strongest when we simply do what we do.

That is my answer. That is how I deepen my roots and continue to grow.

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