Monday, December 3, 2012

Embracing Wal-Mart Pagans

Often, I am taken by surprise when Pagans begin to take the moral high ground in their interactions with other Pagans. Political correctness assaults and victimizes ever more members of our community and as a community we sit in silence, crossing our fingers, that we will not be the next individual to “slip up” and speak plainly.

The victimizing is not intentional, it is the result of the false belief that others “should” believe as we do. In a lot of ways Paganism has a lot of growing to do before we truly learn to work cooperatively.

Personally I have friends who shop at Wal-Mart, support the death penalty, work for Monsanto, support Republicans, think the use of military force is a great way to establish democracy and support cracking down on pot smokers.  As a product of the counter culture revolution I find these beliefs and actions to conflict with my personal beliefs. I DO NOT, however, find the individuals holding them lacking in humanity or Pagan conviction.

As a Pagan I am growing alarmed at the tendency of our community to engage in the very tactics that have been used in the suppression of our beliefs: namely establishing those who disagree as ‘the other, separate and apart from Paganism”.

I have seen the language of opposing privilege used to stifle all debate and label individuals who have differing views.  Even more insidious is the intellectually dishonest tactic of claiming “what you are saying or what you mean is” Such statements would not survive in a Junior High debate class, yet they are routinely used in debate in our community. I have seen supporters of all sorts of causes claim that to not join them is tantamount to supporting those who they are opposing.

When I was a boy my father taught me to “Say what I mean and mean what I say” I attempt to live by this, does it make me politically correct? no, it makes me direct,  which some people consider rude or being an A@#$*, or “not listening”; because if I was really listening I would agree.

I will work for peace in our time and I will have friends who are in the military. I will not shop at big box stores and I will continue to have friends who do. I will oppose the death penalty and still have dinner with those who support it, I will refuse to buy Monsanto products and still hold dear my friend who works there.  Frankly, taking the so-called “Moral high ground” and labeling others is divisive and demonstrates a lack of compassion.

There are many worthy causes in our time. You have those you believe in and I have those I believe in, yet we are both of the GODDESS, both perfect just as we are.  I will continue to inform others of what I think is important, but I will not join in and label those who disagree as my enemy, they are my sisters and brothers. I love all the Pagans, Wal-Mart Pagans included.


Nicebroom said...

Very well put. To reiterate my "quote of the day": There are many paths up the mountain. They all lead to the same place. It does not matter which path you chose. The only person wasting time is the one running around the mountain telling everyone that his or her path is wrong.

Love and blessings to you, my friend.

Carolina Kel said...

As a "Wal-mart Pagan," I appreciate this post. ;)
I have found that one of the hardest things is learning to coexist with people whose views on big issues differ from yours. This blog post is much needed not just in our community, but the world at large.

Lori Dake said...

Thank. You. I'm not decidedly PC and am taming my brutal honesty by usually not saying anything. I go by my beliefs primarily based on my gut instincts and past experiences. So, if I can be labeled as anything, I'd say realist and human, with a "Me and Mine FIRST" mentality. Kind of like the instructions they give you on a plane: Secure your own mask before assisting others.

Not only is the 'tude divisive, but the finger wagging, nagging, guilt-tripping and shaming tend to push people in the opposite direction. Like on Earth Hour, there are people who (childishly) state they're going to run the A/C next to the furnace just to see which side wins.

So here's my bullet points on certain issues:

- We (occasionally) shop at Wally World, mostly because they're not nearby, and we do so unapologetically. It's cheaper, and our personal bottom line is primary. Now if I can get something of a good/high quality at an affordable price, I'll go there.

Same goes for conventional vs organic foodstuffs. If the price is competitive, okay, but otherwise, no. Again, price is the most important, as I refuse to spend $800/mo on groceries for two people. That to me is insane. But hey, if someone else wants to, that's up to them - it's their money.

So no, I do not shop on values.

- I'm pro on death penalty. Why? Because there are Jeffrey Dahmers in the world that should have been executed like the Gacys and Bundys, instead of at the hands of other prisoners.

- I'm definitely pro on guns - the more, the merrier **IF** there is a strict screening process and, like the DMV, people prove they know how to operate one. I certainly do not advocate a gun to be a free prize in every box of Cracker Jacks.

- I have no problem with the chronic, even leisurely. I don't partake myself, but I don't see it to be even remotely as an equivalent as heroin or meth or even Oxycontin or Vicodin.

- I didn't vote for Obama nearly as much as I voted against Romney. For one thing, I'm still pissed about the healthcare mandate. I voted against Romney, because I think that guy just oozes the slime vibes. If the Republican party had a moderate candidate AND running mate (why I voted against McCain last time, back before he turned into a complete douchebag), I may have very well done so. Third parties, to me, still have a long way to go in viability before I could embrace them and think my vote would be meaningful. (Then again, I'm in a very blue state, only due to four of ~100 counties, so my Presidential vote doesn't go far anyway.)

- I also do not like the term feminist and would never call myself one. Human? Yes. I don't like labels on my fancy indoor plumbing, even if it's seen as a good.

- I'm pro-choice... for others. Again, I feel people should be able to do what they want. On what some would say is an opposite side of the same coin, I'm even cool with euthanasia.

Maureen Foss said...

Thank you. Just, thank you.

Pagan In Paradise said...


You are a great example of someone who I disagree with on many issues yet hold in very high regard, We as a community can communicate, express differing opinions and remain friends, even develope friendships that evolve past friendship, Blessings

Witch Mom said...

It's not morality that is the issue. If a viewpoint or action emphasizes disconnection (and this includes being judgmental) then it is not a valid viewpoint, theologically speaking.

Why? We are all connected. Anything that works to harm others, actively or passively- be it shopping at Wal-Mart (whose record speaks for itself on labor, environmental and economic issues) or voting for an anti-choice, pro-wealthy-to-the-detriment-of-everyone-else candidate is actively courting disconnection.

As a Witch, discernment is key.

Lilith said...

Thank you for this article. It has needed to be said for a long time. Nice to see it out in public finally.

"Frankly, taking the so-called “Moral high ground” and labeling others is divisive and demonstrates a lack of compassion."

One caveat that I have struggled with: When does being accepting cross over and become supportive and the promotion (through non-action) of negative, habitual harmful behavior, belief, and sentiments? I have had Pagan friends I adored, but their hate speech, prejudices, and the like became so prominent over time (because of the lack of confrontation with in the group - Frog in boiling water syndrome) that I had to ask my self "Do I want to confront these actions and cause upset within the group (family), do I want to stay and be accepting thus supportive by inaction of their behavior and beliefs, or are these really the kind of people I want to be associated with, and if not, then leave.

It can be so hard, especially in very close relationships, but some people are so intractable and hide bound that sometimes you have to either confront or leave, or both. I often see people in the Pagan community turn a blind eye in deference to live and let live, when they should be taking a stand because of the harm, actively or passively, that is being done.

Believing is one thing, acting upon belief that is harmful is a whole other issue, and should be handled differently and better then simply "Live and let live". Respect is a constant of course, but debate and even confrontation may be a better and more appropriate response, depending up the situation.

Lori Dake said...


Seriously, if we were to get down to bullet points, I don't fit in with the majority of Pagans. The fact alone I don't like much scifi or much of anything "English-y" (Simon Pegg is a big exception), or even coffee for that matter, probably makes me a turd in the punch bowl.

The thing is, we can't be everything to everyone. For me, I can't be much of anything for everyone, at least within Pagandom. However, I try to be tolerant. I don't believe in outright acceptance, because honestly, the only thing any of us has to accept is one day we'll die. For example, when I'm vending at a metal concert, I have no problem selling CDs to a neonazi skinhead. I'll even chat for a moment about the bands. Why? Because bigotry has no business in business because it's bad for business. And, I try to carry that mindset throughout everything in my life. With small exception, it seems to work out okay. :)

Lilith said...

I agree completely!

Dana Morgan said...

This has been going on at least since I came in, in the late 70s. I view it not so much as political correctness -- which it may also be -- as economic and/or regional discrimination. If you would permit me a couple of points ...

- This attitude is most often espoused by people who are financially comfortable. They do not understand what profound determination it takes to remove money from food resources to buy altar supplies. They have never had to make that choice.

-Similarly, they do not understand that absolute dollar$ required to purchase items at specialty shops are sometimes simply not available. Sometimes, the best you can afford comes from Wal-Mart or similar. That doesn't make your convictions less authentic, it just makes your pockets less deep.

- I have most often seen this attitude from people living on the coasts. I have also heard them dismiss the vast middle of the country as "the fly-over."

- In small towns and/or in the middle of the country, sometimes a big box store is the only available option. This was well explored in Bronwen Forbes' book, "The Small Town Pagan's Survival Guide".
(May she rest in peace and return to us in love.)

Best and blessings -- Dana

Pagan In Paradise said...

Great comments and insights from everyone, Thank you all for being part of the conversation

John Beckett said...

We all do our best to live in accordance with our ethics and values, but none of us truly "harm none" - we all make tradeoffs and choices. Some of us have harder choices than others.

Ethical purity is just as overrated as sexual purity.

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