Recently in a blog post an individual made some untrue and inflammatory statements about my actions and beliefs. Friends rallied around and denounced these statements. While I do appreciate having friends who understand my intent and direct form of communication their defense was unnecessary.
As a Pagan I am unable to view those with whom I disagree or have conflict with as “the other” outside of my community. In fact these individuals challenge me and call me to self-reflection and growth. I know you may be thinking “ Yes, but what about those who are blatantly mean, dishonest or hurtful? Sure their statements can be hurtful, but their reality belongs to them and deserves to be heard just as mine does.
In my path the deities I worship are fallible, make mistakes and provide a moral guide for my life. Would I hold them in less esteem because they make mistakes or behave badly? Of course not, I hold them in what I call “Sacred Regard” as teachers, mentors and examples of how complicated existence is. Their seeming “humanity” endears me to them and indeed the concept of the divine its self.
This concept also holds true for those who behave in ways I find distasteful in the community. Each, possessing the spark of the Goddess within, teaches great lessons and allows me to clarify my practice and relationship with the Goddess. These individuals are held in the same "Sacred Regard” as are the Deities I follow. It is a little hard to develop resentment towards those whom you consider to hold the divine within them.