Dear Friends and Pagani,
Like so many of you, I am following the news posts at the Wild Hunt pagan news blog, and at the Pagans at the Parliament site, about the participation of many members of the Pagan Movement in the Parliament of the Worlds Religions (here, and here , and here, for information).
And, of course, as they invariably feel that they must, some folks have posted messages around the internet to the effect of…
“Well who elected THEM to represent us?! Nyah-nyah!! Who says they get to speak for us?! Whine, whine!!”
… insert an assortment of snide and snotty commentary and observations and opinions about the Paganfolk who have gone to the Parliament here… Ed Hubbard of Witch School, had a very polite response in one of the Wild Hunt comment streams…
“Actually the Parliament believes in self-representation, meaning that each individual chooses to attend, either through their own means or their community support. This is not a popularity contest, and those who make it to be speaker or volunteer or trustee do so because of merit shown to the Parliament. Each tradition could send someone, or no one at all. No one can or does claim to represent all of anyone. Certainly not the Pagans, who have many trads present, and many organizations.”
Polite, and well spoken. Which is part of why Mr. Hubbard is where he is in our movement.
I am not nearly the luminary he is, and am feeling much less polite…
“And where in the ~BLEEP~ did you get the idea that Paganism is a Democracy?!?”
(clears his throat and takes a deep and calming breath…)
Now certainly the democratic process is used in many of the Traditions and Organizations within the Pagan Movement, among a number of other organizational/power distribution structures, cause lets face it some paths are VERY Hierarchical and some groups strive for Consensus. Quite frankly and honestly, Virginia, Paganism is NOT a democracy!
I can tell you from years of participation and observations that the Pagan Movement is, over all and in the long term, what is called a Meritocracy.
Say it with me know… “Mare-it-ok-russ-eee”… VERY GOOD!!
What does that mean? Well in the case of the Pagan Movement it means that…
It is those individuals who are willing to shut up, stand up, and do the work; the people who lead rituals, organize groups, who seriously study,who willingly teach, those who give of their time and energy NOT for “fame” or attention (certainly NOT for money) but for their Gods, and quite simply because they see a need and sincerely believe they can fulfill it – and who do so, and do so well over time; THOSE are the leaders, the powerful, the respected in our Pagan Movement.
Unfortunately this doesn’t sit well with the folks who envy the popularity and ability of our movements Elders and Leaders. All too often voices of pettiness, jealousy, insecurity, and fear will clamor to obscure the good work being done by folks in our communities.
Well I say ENOUGH!
If you don’t like what your local leaders or groups are doing. Instead of trying to tear them or their efforts down, get off your butt and DO SOMETHING USEFUL OR CONSTRUCTIVE!! Run for Board President or volunteer to steer a committee, or start your own project and do it better! Stop whining and stop trying to tear others down!
NOT that the envious and insecure are the only ones whom, I believe, need a loving “SNAP OUT OF IT!!” slapping. On one of the lists I am on I saw in an exchange between two Pagans whom I respect and admire for their schollarship and experience. A couple of good folks who are respected within their Traditions, and in the course of a larger discussion there was an exchange along the lines of the following…
Respected Pagan A: “As for my local community, I find that what passes for the the general level of social skills and emotional maturity is at the level of high school on a good day…”
Respected Pagan B: “… Sigh, yeah. That is why I finally decided to back out of being involved here!”
NO, NO, NO!!! Naughty respected Pagans!!!
Not that I haven’t felt the same way in the past. But I am realizing that it is Adults, of both body AND mind, who are supposed to model correct and mature behavior for Children.
It is not easy, nor is it fun, but I truly believe that if we are best to serve our Goddesses and Gods and our many Pagan Paths, that we must be willing to participate in our local and regional Pagan communities. It doesn’t matter how many books you’ve written or how much you’ve done for the movement if you aren’t involved in community; not just your coven or grove or kindred, not just you and some of your fellow Pagan friends hanging out socially, active involvement in your local community Pagan and otherwise.
and you want to know a secret?!
All of our most respected Elders and Leaders, the people who are referenced in our own conversations about the Pagan Movement, folks like those who have chosen to attend the Parliament of World Religions; they are the ones who NOT only have decided to stand up and do the work, they also have worked hard to surround themselves with a beloved community of friends and teachers and students and co-conspirators, and they continue to be willing to engage their local Pagan communities as well as engaging the larger community.
Stand up or shut up folks!