Monday, November 17, 2014

Pagan Trolls, A CALL FOR NON-ACTION




Well,  it has been some time since our faith system has had to choose if we are going to respond when organized Internet Trolls cast their hooks baited with lies and inflammatory statements.  Over the last few weeks the  “Disciples of the New Dawn” have posted some of the most hyperbolic insanity we have ever witnessed by individuals attempting to stir the pot of hatred and misinformation.



Let’s be clear, these posts are pure troll behavior. There is extensive research making it clear that people who engage in such behaviors have sadistic personalities. They deliberately seek to inflame and cause emotional distress.  Once they have stirred the pot they sit back can feed upon the emotional reactions that in their sick little world represents the success of their action.

Today lets share with the entire community a commitment to the below principle:


Each time a community member engages these people their twisted little minds are nourished by our revulsion.  As a community, lets starve these trolls and hope that their discomfort prompts them to get the physiological help they so desperately need.

Please share this call to unified non-action and deprive these individuals of the attention they seek. If you feel you must take action, report their posts to Face Book, but do not comment on, share or repost their dribble, when we do engage we support their twisted feeding frenzy.

May the Goddess, in her compassion heal these individuals need for causing emotional  damage.



Friday, November 14, 2014

Leaving Wicca With Warm Memories And Regrets


“Gender binary, what are you some kind of left wing hippy”

This was the response when I confronted a co-worker for telling a Trans Woman that  “you are a man, you can’t be here you have a penis”.  The entire situation saddened me and again got me to thinking about confronting the black and white thinking that is perpetuated around gender.

On many levels I often take refuge in my spiritual community, here are individuals who understand, are willing to confront old warn out ideas and behaviors.  When I thought about it, however, I was reminded of how uncomfortable I have been during the last few years when I attend a ritual and witness the gender binary on full display within a sacred context.

Dozens of conversations have been held among well meaning members of the Wicca community about this issue.  Individuals profess an understanding of gender equality, agreement is shared all around and NOTHING CHANGES!

It is a sad day when my emerging, evolving, and open hearted spiritual path becomes so tied to its’ dogma and the “we have always done it this way” ethic that in practice their actions continue to disrespect community members who identify with many of the other manifestations of gender identity.

My issue with this situation has become more than problematic; it has become a situation where I perceive my own spiritual path as an obstruction in seeking social justice.  As a result I have come to a place where I am no longer able to embrace Wicca as my spiritual home.

Yes I remain a Neo Pagan, I remain a Witch, and I continue to worship the Goddess.  What I can no longer do is support the institutional dogma of a religion that refuses to evolve even when the members acknowledge the need for change.  This is dogma that violates the precious “Do No Harm” principle that is central to my beliefs.

Over the last few years,  I have paid attention to the pain on the faces of respected community members when they encounter this narrow interpretation of gender in ritual.  They generally remain respectful, as do I in ritual.  It is time however, for me to grow, evolve, change and stop participating in sacred spaces that are stuck in the harmful dogma of the past.  I love my Wiccan friends and will always gladly invite them into the circles I participate in, I will however no longer lend my sacred energy to a belief system that as a whole refuses to evolve.

Growth is painful, this is painful, I honor my spiritual past, I will miss the profoundly moving rituals, yet I cannot refuse to acknowledge the need to move forward un encumbered with actions that harm my many friends who identify as manifestations of the wonderfully diverse pool of gender identities.

For more on this issue see this guest post from a friend:

  http://paganinparadise.blogspot.com/2011/10/guest-post-some-thoughts-on-healing-our.html


Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Local Governments Regulate Compassion



  Homelessness Now Criminalized




Those who follow activism closely are aware that the internet is often awash with hyperbole utilized to stir support for causes related to social justice. In this deafening symphony of notes demanding attention it is nearly impossible to discern which causes deserve support from the average activist with limited resources.

Generally, social justice advocates come to adopt individual causes by following their compassion, which in turn leads to discovering their passion.  Incredible advances in social justice have been realized through this focused approach.

There are times, however, when activists recognize the urgency of a specific cause and join in unity of action.  An example of this is the profoundly successful effort by the Human Rights Campaign to "Turn The Internet Red".  Organizations across the globe engaged in other social justice causes set aside their own focused interests and manifested an event that changed the very nature of the conversation about LGBT rights.

Across our nation laws are being enacted that effectively criminalize the homeless.  Among the activities now legally restricted are sleeping, setting down ones possessions, and feeding the homeless.  These laws are being sold under the “false flag” of safety issues.  Our nation is marginalizing our most at-risk population in the interest of supporting the activities of the very corporate interests that are at the root of the problem of poverty in America.

We, as activists, have the opportunity to act before it is too late.  All social justice advocates involved in other issues need to recognize the profound change in our national character that such laws will establish. We know that LGBT youth, people of color, veterans, abuse victims and many other marginalized groups are disproportionately affected by homelessness. 

Today lets call for a national event to focus the social justice community on confronting these immoral laws.  It is time to speak up or let the very idea of social justice go quietly into the night with barely a whimper.  Lets select a date and focus the entire nation on this issue. Non-Profits, bloggers, writers and activists can and should band together and make a difference.

Americans should not allow our nations character to be re-defined with the first principle being that “people of power and privilege have the right to marginalize and regulate to the shadows those who are most in need.” 

Let us, through our actions, manifest a world where we refuse to grant governments the right to regulate actions that reflect our compassion for all of humanity!

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Politics, Voter Shaming, Corporate Control and The Big Lie





So I voted in the mid-term elections, reluctantly. As a witness to the wide spread corruption in our political system I took no great pleasure in casting most of my votes for candidates who will surly sell my values down the river after the polls close.

For years, we have been deceived by one party or the other. Each bought and paid for by the big monies that flood the halls of power across our nation.

I am tired

Tired of both political parties being disingenuous about their positions on issues.

Tired of Republicans who wish to court women voters while working to roll back rights fought for by generations of women.

Tired of an administration that calls revelations about government spying on the populace a serious issue while at the same time calling for the arrest of the individual who disclosed the abuses.

Tired of a President, who I generally support,  who refuses to make clear his position on running a disastrous pipeline through the heart of our nation until after the elections.  Bought and paid for, the decision is obvious.

Tired of candidates painting them selves as inclusive as they seek to restrict the voting rights of minorities.

Tired of climate change deniers (modern flat earth believers) using distorted religious views to push the agenda of their corporate masters who refuse to act in the interest of humanity.

Tired of the silence of so-called liberal candidates who own stock in multinational corporations who seek to establish dominance over our food supply with GMO products.

And then there is THE BIG LIE

Tired of the dialectic of being required to vote for one of the big parties in order to not  “waist a vote”.  This lie, the idea that there are only two, opposite and opposing choices, is sophomoric in the extreme.  In mental Health settings, such thinking is considered a bell weather of a lack of emotional intelligence; yet we march forward, supporting those who will continue the gridlock across our nation because the big money corporations have funded our choices in a manor that the only real winners in the elections are corporations.

Our country is desperately in need of individuals who will vote their values, un- impeded by two party rhetoric that only serves corporate masters.  My prayer is that next time around the gridlock will be broken by individuals willing to vote for Greens, Libertarians or any other parties that emerge seeking to take ethical stances not influenced by corporate self interest.

Tonight I will watch the election results knowing that it will be the $$$$ that win,.

 Yes I voted, a once proud tradition now subverted by greed!

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Activism and our Ancestors


As believers in manifesting our own destiny we often unintentionally ignore the contributions that our ancestors have made to our moral, intellectual and spiritual make up.  When I consider who I would be if my ancestors had made different choices, led different lives, I am profoundly affected by my realization of how much I am the sum of generations of choices.

On a family level I wonder if my father had not told me stories, as a child, of his activities delivering underground newspapers during the Nazi occupation of Denmark, would I have developed my compulsion to confront injustice?


My Dad, Hans Dybing, who as a teen delivered news papers for the Danish Underground during the Nazi occupation



 Further, had not my protesting older cousins set for me an example of seeking social justice, would I be the same man I am today? Would I have begun my activism at age eight without these influences?

Myself meeting with Colorado Gov. Love about school bussing. Age 8


In terms of our activist ancestors, I ask myself:

Would I be such a believer in the power of civil disobedience had Rosa Parks not taken the seat she did?




Would I believe in the ability of individuals to make a difference had not I witnessed the life and death of Bobby Kennedy? 



 Would I have the same belief in peaceful resistance had not Martin Luther King given his life in the name of justice?




Today I can hear the whispered voices of my ancestors, those in my family, those in my social justice community, those in my spiritual community and I am humbled.  Their words urge me to carry on, continue to act for social justice in all its’ forms.  I am cradled in the arms of those who have gone before me on this path.  Any small contribution I may make to our blessed community flows from them and upon future generations.  Such service grounds me upon the earth where my ancestors lie.

So my friends, Who are your honored ancestors? How did they influence your life? Feel free to comment!



Wednesday, October 15, 2014

CNN & Fox News Contribute To The Ebola Crisis






For those in the disaster world it is a well-known principal that effective responses continue only as long as ongoing in depth coverage continues.  Today in West Africa dozens of patients, men, women and children will die.  Local West African health leaders plead for more funding, more responders and additional logistical support.

The news in the west is awash with reports about 3 cases of Ebola in Texas; our President makes statements, experts pontificate and talking heads spin the news for both it’s dramatic and political effects.

Meanwhile funding for Ebola response in Africa continues to dribble in to the accounts of Doctors Without Boarders and other NGO’s.  Many NGO’s have stopped considering accepting the nationwide flood of volunteers, who wish to respond, due to a lack of funds.

America wake up, this is a global health crisis; national news organizations need to refocus their coverage where the real disaster is happening.  News coverage is the engine that drives donations to responding organizations. It is disgusting that America is so engrossed in our local three cases and diverting attention from where the needs are greatest.

Our national news outlets are behaving in an immoral manner in their coverage, more interested in spreading fear that will drive ratings than being part of a proactive solution.  



Thursday, October 9, 2014

Ebola, Testing Our Humanity




Our nation announces we will build hospitals in West Africa; the world applauds and ignores the fact that the plan is to NOT have Americans staff these clinics. Compassion on the world stage evidently extends only to the point where our self-interest as a nation would be put at some risk.

In the west,  a couple of Ebola cases fill the news, on the hour reports related to their condition and those they have infected focus our nation on “our country”. Missing in all this is the dozens who continue to die daily in West Africa.

As West Africa continues to sink deeper into chaos, half measures and promises are made to placate western sensibilities. On the ground, where the disaster is occurring, pleas are made for more funds, more equipment and more responders.  Governments and NGO’s are moribund by their “procedures” which were not designed to address the immediate needs of a medical disaster of this magnitude.

Our national system of Disaster Medical Assistance Teams (DMAT) has not even been considered as an option for addressing this disaster.  Instead our government has sent the military, with guns and all,  to take up positions in a foreign nation.  Essentially, we have used this crisis as a pawn in the international geo political chess game with China in Africa.

My heart aches to be in Africa assisting, yet all attempts to get there have been dashed.  Evidently those who wish to respond with years of training are not needed.  Inside I weep as I consider the lives being needlessly lost.  Unable to put my compassion into action I am also lost.

Deep inside me in a private place, I wonder if the faces of those dying were white, would the response be the same? The conclusion I come to is shameful! 

Monday, September 1, 2014

Sacrifice Upon The Alter Of Expectation




It is an experience most within the Pagan community have had.  In our interactions we discover that an individual we are interacting with does not live up to our expectations in terms of belief, follow through, ability or view of social justice.  Our pre-conceptions are shattered; we question our own judgment in engaging with the individual, examine how “different” they are in the light of day and realize our mistake.

Therein is the rub. It is our mistake. In our desire to feel secure in our community we have laid down expectations that surly will be shattered. In our need to believe that we have a safe place to grow spiritually we have manifested a fantasy world where our co-religionists share all of our values. For some this idea of our “Blessed Community” leads to disillusionment.

Simply stated, many discover that there is no safe place for spiritual growth. The process of growth involves confronting our own pre conceptions, learning compassion for others and accepting that our relationship with the divine is unique, individual and not dependent on the actions or beliefs of others.

Growth is dependent upon confronting our need for uniformity, developing the ability to honor the paths’ of others and embracing both our intersections of belief and our divergence in personal ethos.  Many proclaim that our community is fractured, that “those Pagans” are not like us. This process of “othering” tears apart the community and limits our ability to come together on issues of mutual interest.

The Pagan community can only move forward if we focus on honoring our differences, having compassion for those with whom we have issues and engaging the wider world together in achieving social justice.

I have friends in community who whole heartily believe in issues I oppose. My task is to be willing to engage with them where our beliefs intersect and not sacrifice my personal understanding of the divine upon an alter of expectation.

I will honor the differences as manifestations of the diversity in beliefs and paths within our “Blessed Community”; ever mindful that my path to the divine is unique and intended for me alone.



  

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Lessons From My Garden




Darkness surrounds, small, encased in Gaia, nourished by organic matter from years past, I remain miniscule in the universal scale of things.  I can sense the potential I possess, moisture soaks down upon me from above, stirring my centuries of evolution.

With each drop of moisture I begin to spread, tapping the limitless source of nutrients provided by my ancestors.  Calling from above there is warmth, a promise of growth, of reaching my potential. Stirring within me is the calling of sacred energy from above.

There is a new dawn for me, as I rise from the immortal darkness, I can feel the calling of my potential.  With certain knowledge that I must grow and become something bountiful, I reach for the light.

With my place of origin firmly rooted, the light grows warmer. I branch up and out, growing stronger every day.  In this process I become aware of the diversity that surrounds me. Thousands of beings inching towards the fullness of there nature.

Next to me, atop another being there is a sudden blossom of color, I am comforted.  Suddenly I feel a wellspring of energy, I final push to achieve all that my ancestors have shaped me to become.  As the dawn of a new day arrives, I am surrounded by a symphony of color.

With the sudden realization that I too have bloomed as a single colorful note in this visual concerto, I realize my destiny, to grow, to learn, to honor the diversity of life,

There is coolness now, with my blooming, my experience, my knowledge of the great cycle I have manifested the minute seeds of a new generation.  Gaia calls me back to her nourishing cradle, all that I am, seeps back into her cauldron of life.  I am comforted in the knowledge that the cycle will begin again after the time of the darkness. I am whole and immortal having played a part, for a season, in the dance that is life. I will rest in the arms of the great mother.



Friday, August 29, 2014

World Turmoil, What’s a Pagan to do?




Ebola is emerging as a threat to thousands of lives; the images of desperate communities are seared upon our collective conscious.



 In Europe, war has broken out, as the actors in the conflict continue to side step any responsibility. Images of bombed out cities flash across screens piling the horrors of war upon our daily menu of information to digest.



Terror has gripped the Middle East; innocents are murdered in the name of a group using an acronym that defiles the name of a respected Goddess for many in our community. 

How do we as Pagans manage to keep our spiritual focus in times that trigger anxiety on a mass scale?  As an activist that believes in the potential for a better world these are trying times.

Below are some of the ways that I use to keep my center when disaster literally or through media surrounds me:

Grounding

Grounding is an approach that always helps. By grounding I mean the physical action of putting my hands in the dirt and sensing my connection to mother earth, feeling the energy, experiencing the threads that tie my corporeal being to the elements.  From this experience spiritual grounding begins to flourish within my consciousness.

Ritual

The temptation to view world events as beyond our control is tremendous.  Such a stance however, encourages us to internalize the stresses that these events encumber us with.  Engaging and crafting personal rituals that seek peace, compassion, healing and understanding surrounding these events is proactive and recognizes that each of us have the ability to seek the world we wish to live in.

Participation

Letters to world leaders, donations to those providing relief and actual volunteering of time have all been strategies I have used to engage, participate in solutions and bring about change. 

Our world is lacking in voices that urge compassion, compromise, understanding and real action in support of these principles. Someday it may be your letter that touches the inner being of a major actor in one of these world events.  We as Pagans can make a difference if we refuse the inner narrative that tells we are helpless to affect change upon the human condition.

These three suggestions have worked for me. What works for you? Please share your experiences in the comments section. We are in community, together we can manifest change.





Monday, August 4, 2014

Gaza, The Goddess and Grounding in Compassion





World events once again have manifested violence on an un-imaginable scale. Across our nation protests are raging, some against the violence of Palestinian organizations and some laser sighted on the state sponsored violence perpetrated by Israel.

Pressing upon our community is our response and “position” on these issues. The temptation is to take sides, engage the established dialectic and choose  allies.  Internationally the established narrative is one of blame, distrust and division.

What I propose for the Goddess community is a third way,  less traveled yet holding infinitely more promise of eventual peace and mutual understanding.  In our hearts we know that violence as a means of resolving cultural conflict is unproductive and feeds the hungry beast that perpetuates the deaths of innocents.

Let us speak to solutions, compromise, the ability of humanity of engage compassion and oppose all violence no matter its source.  Let us set the example that discussion of who is in the right is absurd when innocents are perishing in the name of principles that lack the very moral high ground they pretend to be based on.

This is a case of nations unable to transcend schoolyard violence as recourse for offence.  Let us espouse the love of the Goddess, the compassion of humanity, the deep knowledge that however profound a grievance it does not justify violence.

May the Goddess manifest compassion, peace and understanding;  three principles that have the potential to erase the corrupt path of violence, hatred and conflict.

So Mote It Be


Friday, August 1, 2014

A Loss for Humanity – Margot Adler




With the news of the passing of Margot Adler our community manifests remembrances of a pillar of the Pagan community. Even more, there is the recounting of her considerable contributions to journalism, activism, and National Public Radio.

It was years after becoming Pagan that I first read her foundational book on the emerging Pagan community.  As such, I have little connection to the awakening referenced by others as a result of exposure to her work.  Nor do I count my self as a member of her inner circle of friends.  Yes, I shared a number of meals, drinks and conversations with her, yet our relationship was casual with the exception of the profound effect she had on me.

In Margot,  I witnessed the best of what the community can be.  My interactions with her left me in awe of her class, grace, humanity and sense of humor.  I never witnessed anyone come away from meeting her feeling they had met a BNP: instead, there was a realization of a profound human connection, the touching of inner beings, the effect of her presence on any group was comforting.

One year at Florida Pagan Gathering I was honored to have Margot invite me to share a presentation she was giving.  I was stunned, when I asked her why she simply said, “you have something to contribute”.  I was deeply touched.

Our world will miss her iconic voice on NPR, our community will miss her insightful, humorous presentations, and those of us who knew her socially will miss her rye sense of humor.

What I will miss is the wonderful spirit who embodied everything I believe our community aspires to.

Margot was the best of us, may we all manifest the qualities she so easily displayed in everything she did.   The loss to our community is beyond measure, yet, we can celebrate her life by insuring her qualities live within each of us.


Thursday, July 10, 2014

Social Justice, the next step



Over the course of the last few years my social justice work has led me to be involved in many causes.  Each effort has deeply affected me in ways that I struggle to verbalize. One of these causes is Transgender rights.  Working to have all of humanity recognized as sacred, valuable and deserving of human dignity is for me the very foundation of social justice.

As part of following the issues I am involved in I joined a Face Book group called "Transgender Day Of Remembrance". The site collects and distributes stories of murders of and assaults on members of the Transgendered community. Below find a listing of the headlines from just June 2014


Ohio man indicted on six counts in robbery, murder of transgender woman

Police arrest homicide suspect after garbage truck driver finds body in Walnut Hills
Transgender activist found dead in O.C. mourned as leader

Bashed for being transgender'

Body of transgender woman found burned, dumped behind garbage bin

Guilty plea in killing of transgender woman in New Westminster
Anaheim police investigating suspicious death of transgender woman
To put this in perspective the Transgender community is about 0.030 % of the population. Frankly if such high numbers of any other demographic in America were being murdered or assaulted there would be national outrage!  The fact that there is not is telling as to old stereo types that live in the subconscious of even the most progressive of our communities.

Today I urge you my readers to make this issue, your issue, stand in support of the transgendered community. Not because you know transgendered individuals, not because you are progressive in belief, but because every human being deserves the advantages of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.  

It is just the right thing to do!






Monday, May 12, 2014

Fake Activism




Activism is by its’ very nature is an activity that transcends social norms and calls attention to issues and situations that have not gotten enough attention from established institutions, organizations and communities.

Recently Activism has become a popular subject with individuals who are long-term members of established organizations touting their credentials as activists. While these individuals may be incredibly effective members of service organizations they are not necessarily qualified to claim the title activist.

Over the past few months these individuals, in an attempt to harness the popularity of activist culture, have offered their experiences as a framework for activist engagement.  What is lost is that being engaged in organized social justice work does not an activist manifest. These social justice volunteers seek to focus the yearnings of an activist generation on their narrow organizational goals and interests.

Encouraging activists to surrender their personal agency in choosing social justice actions has the potential to sap the very life force from a generation that is committed to real change, change that these long-term organizations have failed to deliver.  Surly these organizations have accomplished much in setting the stage for change, yet their intense interest in narrow agendas confine their willingness to engage in revolutionary social actions that are needed in this century.

As an activist culture continues to emerge we should question those who seek to influence our actions. Those presenting themselves, as “experts” should be questioned; have they risked their own freedom to manifest social change? Have they lead protests? Have they demonstrated their willingness to exchange a measure of personal safety for social change?  These are important questions.  Volunteers for social change are an incredibly important component of social justice work, they have my respect, yet, to be an activist means so much more than simply volunteering for causes that resonate.

So the next time you take a class or workshop on activism ask your self; is this really about activism or is it an attempt to lasso the energy of activists into supporting well meaning but narrowly focused established organizations.

As a member of many great Social Justice organizations I respect and support their work.  I am however, not ready to surrender my agency as an activist to their organizational framework that looks more like a corporation than an organic outpouring of revolutionary energy.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Old White Guys, Sex and Beautiful Women



It is tempting to give into the idea, sold daily by our culture, that we as “Old White Guys” are still attractive to young gorgeous women. We are repeatedly subjected to the narrative that our status, our money, our influence, our “handsome” graying temples transcend what the mirror makes obvious.

These cultural messages tempt us to engage in beliefs that support the idea that “power over” relationships are acceptable. They are not! As we grow older we have a place of privilege in our culture. By consequence of our birth we have achieved the stereotype of the wise mature man. One only needs to listen to conversations among “mature” white males to understand that the pre conception is flawed.

Frankly, those who engage in these power over relationships, based on wealth, status or influence perpetuate their privilege and support the subjugation of women. Even worse they reinforce the idea that societal power and status is an appropriate currency to purchase sexual relationships. Such actions contribute greatly to rape culture in our communities.

The messages sent to young men are that women are objects to be possessed by those who are successful or influential. Confronting our own privilege means standing up and proclaiming that such power based relationships are not acceptable in our communities.

Images of powerful men 60+ with women in their twenties are celebrated as examples of virility when in fact they represent delusional emotional immaturity bolstered by the willingness to believe that the possession of power transcends ethical behavior. It is time to stop sending the next generation the message that the “possession” of women is acceptable.

Today I call on my fellow “Old White Guys” to confront these beliefs when you witness them in our collective communities. They represent an abuse of power, a perpetuation of un earned privilege and a disregard of the fundamental human rights of women.



Originally posted at Face Book page "Old White Guys Confronting Privilege"