I am still deeply affected by the events of this week, and I'm struggling to reconcile my feelings around what is going on in our country right now. How larger themes of racism, sexism, xenophobia, transphobia, and hatred have permeated the fabric of our nation so completely. Working where I do in and amongst conservative Christians as a Pagan is a challenging and often times exhausting endeavor where showing up is half the battle.
I was on call the morning after the election news broke, and in our case, whoever is on call that day delivers the morning devotional in Chapel that morning. I've done a variety of offerings from my tradition and they have all been warmly received, but on this day I wanted to present something that spoke to deeper bonds of fellowship and used common language I knew would connect with my colleagues and yet would remain true to my identity as a Pagan. I presented this piece I had written in my Gospel of John course at Iliff a few years ago:
There's a plague out there. Unsolicited advice--or, advice you didn't ask for--is often the first thing that comes out of someone's mouth when you talk about anything bad going on with you. And here's the thing--you probably do it too; I sure know that I do, and I struggle not to. It's an issue of leadership because it's an issue of communication and boundaries, and it also crosses over into pastoral counseling as well. It's certainly an issue that can impact how we function together within communities.
Unasked-for advice happens on autopilot, and here's how it usually plays out.
There's a cycle in the Pagan blogosphere that needs to be interrupted. This or that public figure of Paganism stumbles, mildly or majorly, anything from making an offensive statement to doing something seriously unethical and even illegal. More than half the time, I think to myself "Who is this person, and why should I care?" But one by one, many take it upon themselves to step up and denounce or defend to demonstrate their upholding of ethics, Real Paganism(tm) or Loyalty and Respect for Our Elders (tm) Then we get upset about which "sides" our favorite bloggers, authors, festival presenters have taken, or not taken and there's another wave of backlash. I admit to taking part in this, but this last couple times I hesitated. What impact does my speaking or writing on this have? Is this person accountable to me? Do they follow the same value system as me? Do they represent my tradition or organization? Can I have a face to face conversation with them?
I often put more thought into my writing than my speech. I try to talk quickly to get in all the words I want to and end up sounder more foolish as a result. The Druidic virtue of eloquence is certainly one I need to work on! I know my Wiccan compatriots have a saying about "Speak ye little, listen much" and the title of this blog post refers to the Witches' Pyramid, To Know, To Will, and To Keep Silent. I guess To Speak falls under To Will- it's not my pyramid, so y'all might have to explain it to me.
This is the first of a series of blog posts on how to move more gracefully through the turbulence caused by the pain and strife that is besetting so many parts and so many levels of the world at this time and for some time yet to come. I am pointedly and intentionally not naming the myriad of issues because I do not want to call out or inadvertently suggest a hierarchy or prioritization of troubles or oppressions. If you need to do that take a moment now and think about your own concerns.