Several times over the last six to nine months I have been attacked because I have strong views on acceptable behavior.
Over the years I've noticed that my attitudes have changed. In the 80's I was active in animal rights and ending starvation groups. In the 90's my focus was on women's rights, children's rights and the environment. But I've come to realize that it is not about equality, but rather about equity. We live in a world in which the uneven distribution of power, resources, and freedom is inequitable.
The headlines of today's New York Times reads:
Dozens Slain as Lebanese Army Fights Islamists
So far 17 militants and 22 soldiers are dead. It is unknown how many innocents in the refugee camp are dead or injured because no one can get in there to verify the information.
The Islamic militants are using the refugee camp as a base and as a shield.
"What began as a raid on several homes in Tripoli in pursuit of suspected bank robbers connected to Fatah al-Islam quickly escalated into an open confrontation with the group at their stronghold in the camp."
Lebanese hate the Palestinians in the camps because they blame them for the civil war. The Palestinians have lived in these camps for years, they lost everything in the civil war. Mind this is not a simple problem. The last census cited that the country was predominately Christian, in 1932. But that really isn't the case. The Muslim's who live in Lebanon want another census, and a restructure of the government to reflect the changed population.
Isreal and the Christian government don't want that. Because they don't want another Muslim foothold in the Middle East. Of course, this is a very simplified view of a very complex political, social, cultural and religious problem.
My point to all of this, HATE is a horrible feeling. If we cannnot as humans find common ground with which to settle our differences then we all are in for more of what has occurred and is continuing to occur in Lebanon.
So many times I see pagans ranting about christians. Newsflash, one day, we could be the folk in the refugee camps.
We need to find better ways to settle our differences. We need to watch our own, and make sure that when they step over that line into inappropriate behavior, that we as a community do not sanction crappy behavior with the idiotic "well Wicca is whatever you want it to be so if it feels right to you then it is right" arguement.
No one in the pagan community wants to step up and create a set of standards for minimum acceptable behavior. Oh, they don't mind whining, ranting, and bitching about the "teh evul xtians" who abuse, rape, discriminate, fire, evict, etc etc etc. But push those same expectations on a pagan? No way, don't you know that is in violation of everything we believe in?
One of those most common refrain's I've heard is "Who are you to judge the actions of others?" or "You're just a bully trying to force your brand of pagan fundamentalism"
WOW, really? Let's look at what I actually have repeatedly stated as my expectations.
1. Do not teach minors without parental notification and permission.
2. Responsibility in teaching, the same kind of expectations as to training, education, and background one would expect of someone teaching your child, is the same expectations we should have for our teachers of the Craft.
3. Contradictions, Historical revision, and blatant hypocrisy. Self appointed leaders have these things pointed out to them dozens of times, with no change, no growth, no acceptance of personal responsiblity.
Then yes, I do believe that as a community that values spiritual enlightenment, and as a member of this community, I have the right, no, I have the duty and responsibility to point out and ask for public denial and censure of these kinds of people.
Every single religion has them. We are not unique. What we are unique in, is our complete disregard for ethics, truth, honesty, and a refusal to hold our leaders, both chosen and self-appointed to higher expectations.
At some point we will have no choice but to take a stand. My fear is that by the time the general pagan population is finally ready, we will have already lost to much ground and too many innocent people.