It has been a tumultuous few weeks in the evolution of our collective Pagan community, discussions about multiple uncomfortable issues have been processed both online and in local face to face conversations. What strikes me most profoundly about these conversations is the incredible eloquence, insight and collective clarity of vision of what many have been calling “Young Pagans”
Let me just briefly mention that this label of “Young Pagans” is, in my opinion, a misnomer. Clearly when we are discussing these individuals it is our Elder centric culture that labels everyone under 45 as “young leaders”.
Over and over I have witnessed “Elders” explain the realities of a diverse group of Pagan micro communities to these “Young Pagans” seeking change. Essentially, the impression I get is of an established community defending what they have built and seeking to stave off the reality that it is these new Pagan Leaders that are manifesting real change that will ensure the flourishing of our collective communities.
These “new leaders” speak their truth directly; they have little concern for what Jason Thomas Pitzl, calls the “Culture of Respectability” that has manifested in our community. Their actions reflect the fact that a static community will enter a period of entropy if it does not continue to manifest positive social change, a sense of collective community and direct honest confrontation of the issues that infect our collective tribes.
Frankly, I am impressed with their passion, their willingness to proclaim an enlightened viewpoint with out regard to who it might offend. These so-called “Young Pagans” are the Pagan movement; they have transcended the accomplishments and structures built by the proceeding generation.
Our communities' Eders laid the foundations of their work, something they all deserve respect for. Today however, these same Elders seem unable to embrace the reality that they carry many attitudes and ideas that if allowed to prevail will begin to eat away at the very community they so cherish.
Simply stated, the views, ideas and actions that I most respect in our community are all coming from this new generation of Pagans who will not tolerate a community which bases its’ actions on a culture of respectability. The widespread ethic of “play nice” that resulted from the “witch wars” that occurred during the formative years of our community has become an insidious barrier to real discussion and the evolution of our community.
While I am always cautious to engage the word “leaders”, I do believe that the current people who I respect the most for their leadership abilities are from these emerging generations. It seems to me that it is time for established Elders to pass the responsibility of leadership to these individuals and stop framing them as “young leaders”. They are the best of us, willing and able to take our community into a future that is more inclusive and reflective of our Pagan values.
We need our Elders for their wisdom, knowledge and temperance. They command our respect, yet the time comes when actively steering our community into the future should be left to those who have a clearer view of the future rather than the past.
It is my intent to focus what limited voice I have on ensuring that these passionate, focused and effective Pagans are encouraged to continue steering our community forward in the direction of their collective vision of a healthy, dynamic and inclusive community