Living Intentionally Within the Storm

Mar 18th, 2018 | By | Category: Articles
Dark and difficult times lie ahead. Soon we must all face the choice between what is right and what is easy.  Albus Dumbledore, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
TommyElf aka Tommy Van Hook

TommyElf aka Tommy Van Hook

Indeed. This is a quote from a work of fiction, but even fiction holds parallels of truth to our everyday world. For a long period of time, many folks that I know and trust have discussed the whispers of a coming storm, one that threatens to engulf all. Right around fourteen months ago, the whisper changed. The underlying entreaties of getting ready, gathering together, preparing to weather the storm as connected as possible altered to one statement of finality: the storm is here. Many equated this with the election of Donald Trump as President, and the open, brazen emergence of race-based terrorism. Many others have noted the rise of movements seeking equality and balance between those and other issues. The reality is that all of that – and even more – are merely symptoms of a rising current.

Many Polytheist friends I know are being called to banners of war and battle, as defenses are strengthened and more robustly defined. Even Monotheist friends are trying to find ways that they can be shelters and of greater assistance to racial, gender and religious populations that cannot properly defend themselves in the boiling, seething cauldron of anger and hate that resides in what I can only describe as a grab at societal power.I am a self-identified neutral, trying to stay out of the reach of all of this, which is no longer possible for me. I am not a front-line warrior, but I am a defender – protector. My position is as a last line of defense. Not as a first-strike option. So, I am finding ways to integrate myself into places where I can fulfill my role.
What I have noticed; however, is a rising mistrust of “others” – or to put it in a different angle: a mistrust of this who are not us. And in some quarters this has turned into a manner of aggression towards those who are not Polytheists or outwardly Pagan-friendly. And in that process, to some degree, we have turned into that which we fear and seek to defend ourselves from: fundamentalists.
Dictionary.com defines a fundamentalist as “an adherent of a religious movement characterized by a strict belief in the literal interpretation of religious texts, and then denotes these as ‘radical fundamentalist.’ (http://www.dictionary.com/browse/fundamentalist) I tend to agree, but add to this definition with the following: “These adherents believe that their interpretation is the only correct one for all members of the human race.” It is this addition that I am trying to distinguish from between those who seek to be protectors of others, and those who comprise the rising tide of the storm we see.
As noted before, the storm is not non-Pagans and non-Polytheists. In fact, the storm is composed of some Polytheists and Pagans who believe that the whole world should only see their perspective. The same holds true within the political realms throughout the world as well. Unbending, unbroken, strict adherence to a particular set of views only lead to one thing: a “Us v Them” mentality, with the “Us” component always smaller than the “Them” component. Furthermore, the “Them” component must be wiped away from society because of non-conforming points of view cause strife and confusion. When all members of a society all think the same way, a utopia can be found. An entire society of individuals all thinking the same way, approaching topics the same way, worshipping and believing the same way makes for a more behaved, better-adjusted society. Yeah, no thanks.
I would rather have a society where a wider base of topics can be discussed, where approaches can be debated to the relevance of the individual, and where diversity is celebrated. The world becomes a place of new experiences to explore, a place where people can dare to be different, and not have to fear some kind of reprisal against that difference because someone fears some aspect of the unknown. Where differences can be celebrated, discussed, explored, and given the proper deference. I shouldn’t fear someone who is different from me, nor should I fear to offend them because I do something that doesn’t follow some custom within their life. But that brings another factor that seems to have arisen from the tide of the storm – our quick embrace of being offended. Many people who have found out that I am a Polytheist, as well as an Animist have made snide and crass remarks about my belief that everything has a soul and consciousness. I have had people throw stones into a pond and ask me if the stones were offended at being thrown around with the purpose of trying to purposefully anger me.
Over the past fifteen years, I have watched a rising tide of resentment towards the Christian belief systems which hold power within today’s American society. Simply put, Christian belief systems hold the majority of adherents in this country, and thus have the bully pulpit to make their presence far more known without worrying about societal rejection. At one time in world history, that pendulum was started at a spectrum point complete opposite of today. But I would hold that it is not really Christianity – in any of its various sects – that is the “enemy” that the storm has become. Rather, it is the seductive nature of power over others, created through a strict adherence to an understanding that fundamental, rigid principles are more appropriate than following your own beliefs and having a wider acceptance of the differences held by others. After all, being able to control someone else is quite a powerful aphrodisiac, particularly for those who have had their necks stepped on by those in power in the past.
What does this say about us? As Polytheists? As Pagans? As individuals following a minority belief system? As people? I cannot really say for anyone else. After all, one of the fundamental aspects of what I believe is that each individual has to answer for their own actions. We all make our own choices. And we all reap the consequences of those actions and choices at some point in our lives – this one or the next. But I would hope that others seek to stem the tide of this storm as I do – by continuing to be the kind of Pagan, Polytheist and Druid that I strive to be: kind and considerate to others, truthful in interactions with others and myself, and willing to lend a hand in whatever manner I can for others. Without having to check their identity cards to make sure that helping them won’t put me in bad standing with those in power. Because the only standing I need to truly follow is my own perception of who I find myself to be and what I need to try to do to be better. For me, I call that living intentionally – and that is how I plan to fight to defend myself and others.
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