Over the course of the past few years I have observed an emerging pattern of Pagan intolerance of divergent viewpoints on issues of importance to the community. Again and again writers expressing their opinions are subjected to being called names, shamed for their views and subjected to “othering” as a result of expressing a simple personal viewpoint.
What is most alarming about this pattern is the communities’ relative acceptance of these behaviors. The most recent manifestation of this dynamic is the current editorial in Witches & Pagans magazine. Individuals are threatening to discontinue their long-standing subscriptions to the publication due to an editorial, expressing a personal view.
Instead of taking the opportunity to openly enter into discourse of the presented topic a few in the community jump at the opportunity to take offence, make threats and “other” the author.
The communities acceptance of such behavior has the consequence of encouraging those who write to avoid any topic that could stir controversy, which if given credence will result in a “Pagan lite” approach that will leave us with nothing more than a new age, white washed writing ethic that will feature “goodness and light”.
Those individuals willing to tackle topics that call the community to introspection deserve not only our support but deep gratitude for providing us an opportunity to process important trends, develop deeper understanding of issues and acknowledge the importance of free and open discourse.
As part of my personal practice I hold those opinions and individuals with whom I disagree in what I call “Sacred Regard”. They provide me the opportunity to dig deeper, develop compassion and understanding, acknowledge the diversity in community and more clearly define my own understanding of the nature of the divine and my relationship to the Goddess.
Today I am calling for the community to stand for reasonable and respectful discourse. Engage in debates with a clear focus on the spark of the divine that exists within those with whom we debate. Confront those that engage in name-calling or threats. Most of all to relinquish the tendency to take offence in recognition that such behaviors have negative consequences for our community.
My experience is that those with whom I disagree are some of my most valued teachers, friends and guides. Blessings upon all those who are willing state their truth in a respectful manor.
It is those who are willing to stand at the center of controversy and debate whom I most respect and whom manifest the most positive change in our community.