One Mage’s Opinion: If You Complain About It They Will Come.
Pagan’s have an uphill battle when it comes to being understood and respected by the mainstream. Because there aren’t really a single set of tenets that all Pagan’s agree upon it can be tough from the outset to get people to understand what we are about. The tendency of the media to focus only on the most surface of images of Paganism usually not caring to let anything as petty as fairness or dare I say research get in the way, gives us an additional hurdle to clear. Add other factors like the tendency of many to equate Magick with delusional thinking, and the fact that in the United States at least discrimination against us tends to be fairly subtle and low key and awfully tough to prove, and it can sometimes seem like a pretty to road to walk.
But unfortunately all of that is starting to seem to be the least troubling of the problems we face. After all to an extent this is nothing new, and most of us are fairly used to it. But now we have a growing problem from within our own ranks. A phenomenon that lacking a better term I have come to call Self Hating Pagans.
If you read Pagan themed blogs, or listen to Pagan themed podcasts you most likely have seen an example of the work of a self hating Pagan. Basically it seems that lately any time that there is something that troubles Pagans, whether it’s discrimination, or hateful images, or harassment, or any of the other many things that some Pagans have had to deal with at some point in their lives, and an individual or a group speaks out against that troubling thing, there will be someone or several someone’s to tell them they are making a big deal out of nothing.
Now I’m not going to deny that sometimes my fellow Pagan’s can get good and het up over things that maybe aren’t that big of a deal, and maybe sometimes it’s not that the issue isn’t worth being upset over, but that the approach to talking about the upset is out of proportion to the offense. But some times there are things that need addressed. When there are portrayals of Pagans and Paganism that are unbalanced, or just plain wrong, there is a need for voices speaking up, saying “That’s not us”. When imagery of hate crimes committed against people accused of Witchcraft in the past is used to sell products, there is a need for voices speaking up saying “I do not appreciate you using that image on your product, or in your adverstising.” When someone encounters discrimination whether it’s from an employer, or from a city’s government there is a need for voices saying, “You do not have the right to discriminate against anyone because of their religion, and when you do and attempt to cover it up with a lot of hot air we will call you on it.” When someone running for office makes denigrating and marginalizing Pagans part of her ad campaign, there is a need for voices speaking up and saying, “We are here, and we are every bit as much a part of this society as anyone else.”
Pagans are really no different from Christians, or Jews, or Atheists. We all want to have our beliefs treated respectfully. We all want to see images in entertainment and culture that we can identify with. We all want to be able to believe and worship as we see fit and not have to worry about whether our lives are going to be negatively impacted by bigotry. We all want not to have images related to wrongs done our community used to sell products. In short we all want to be treated with dignity and respect.
Telling us to sit down and be quiet and not make a fuss does nothing to help us achieve these goals. It is only by refusing to be ashamed of who and what we are and speaking out against those things we consider wrong can we hope to ensure a free fair future for Pagans, and Paganism. Of course that’s just one Mage’s opinion.