I've started this post over approximately seven times now, because I don't want to piss anybody off or downplay centuries of persecution or be a hypocrite as I rearrange the dustbunnies in my broom closet, but I can't find a way to say it that is smart or gentle or thoughtful, so I'm just going to come right out and say it:
I'm sick of Paganism being a reactionary movement.
It seems like every time I turn around, I'm reading an article about what those crazy (awful, evil, misguided, ignorant, insert your own ugly term here) Christians are doing to screw up the world and then reading a laundry list of comments that bring up Bible verses and religious teachings to really pound into the heads of everybody around that Christians are NOT DOING THEIR RELIGION RIGHT, y'all, and isn't it darkly humorous?
Or I'm reading an article about how an atheist is protesting something the crazy (awful, evil, misguided, et cetera) Christians are doing and how Pagans should totally stage another protest alongside the atheist, because we have to fight the Christian domination.
Or I'm reading the results of a poll that show that Pagans don't want to have a central, organizing body, we just want to be left alone to worship as we will, nor do we want spokespeople to carry our concerns to the legislators. Comments seem to revolve around how Pagans do their own thing, contribute to society as individuals, and don't care to emulate the actions of groups they find deplorable.
On a certain level, I understand and agree with many of the sentiments I find in these articles and polls. I live Under the Buckle of the Bible Belt, y'all, and it is generally one long parade of violations of the separation of church and state and wading through Christian hypocrisy. It is scream-inducing, to say the least.
And to be frank, Christianity is the base-level religion in our country. We can argue against it all we want, but the very concept of the separation of Church and State comes from a reaction in the Christian (or Deist, for a few) Founders to the bloodbath that was the Plymouth colony and the dream of William Penn's democratic utopia. Thomas Jefferson might have believed that a religious state was wrong, but this belief came from the cultural background of failed Christian statehood.
Finally, you can't ignore the ingrained belief in the most vocal of Christians that Pagans are going to hell, that ANYBODY not Christian is going to hell and that somehow, this should be the basis of a government, complete with the military might to do away with anything not Christian. Ugh.
But...you know, you can't ignore something else. Christians are NOT reactionary. They are actionary (ooh, look, I invented a word.) They DO things in the name of their faith (sometimes AWFUL things, granted.) They come together in groups not just to protest other faiths, but to do good works: they say, "We are a Christian group and we are going to feed these children, rebuild this town, clean up this street." And then they do it. And it occurs to me that perhaps this is why Christianity has been so successful. It is based on organization, numbers, and ACTION.
As bizarre as it sounds, maybe this is what Pagans should start thinking about as our numbers surge. What would be wrong with a Pagan Council with representatives from various faith families? What would be wrong with a clearing house website of sorts, built and maintained by this council with information about the various faith paths, so that folks who are questioning the Pagan path can find this information easily? What would be wrong with this Council sponsoring or helping to organize charities that are specifically funded? Honestly, I want to know.
Are we afraid of infighting? Honey, please. Every other week there's a new "witch war" that breaks out on the interwebs, often over the use of the word "pagan" or "magic(k)" or...catch my drift?
Are we afraid of losing the safety of the status quo? Do no harm is the creed many of us follow, but doing no harm also seems--at least to many of us, myself included--to have become "do nothing."
It's weird, isn't it? A couple of weeks ago, we saw Pagans from all walks of life band together to support a handful of Pagan mothers who blog. This was a concerted effort, with leaders and spokespeople that enacted change. WE CHANGED THE WORLD. Yes, it was a tiny corner of the interwebs, but we changed that tiny corner. We changed the minds of people. We made friends with and educated people we wouldn't have normally even glanced at.
So...why can't we apply that to the real world? Why can't we get organized to enact change and educate others?
What is it, really, that prevents us from taking action?