(No burning issues on my mind this week, other than being happy to see buds on the trees around my house, but I didn’t think I could get a whole article out of that. Well, not an article that would be even moderately interesting to read. >8) Here’s an article I wrote for Shining Lakes News back in 2000. The IRC chats are gone (as far as I know anyway) but I think the rest of it is still relevant.)
On Sunday nights, I often participate in ADF’s online chat session on IRC (Internet Relay Chat). This gives various folks from all around the world, ADF members and non-members alike, a chance to get together and discuss various issues. A few weeks ago, one fellow wanted to ask some questions about the event that he’ll be hosting for Pagan Pride Day this year. He has never hosted a public event before. I suppose I would have expected his first question to be about finding a site, how to advertise the event, coming up with good programming, having a charity drive tied into the event, something like that. Instead, his first question for the group was, “How do I deal with the protestors?” I thought, “Protestors? With everything else he needs to get done, he’s worried about protestors?”
Last year, there was a “Blessed Be and Meet Me in DC” mirror event held in the Detroit area. This event which had gotten front page coverage in the Detroit Free Press, and been advertised in local newspapers and magazines, in a metropolitan area with a population of over 4.5 million. And the sum total of protestors consisted of two small groups putting fliers on people’s windshields in the parking lot.
I find myself both surprised and saddened by the number of pagans I see who seem tormented by the possible interference of a group of people who may or may not exist. Sure, there are lots of people out there who don’t agree with our beliefs. Unless you’re a hermit living in a cave, you probably interact with non-pagans every day. But ask yourself, how many of those people are really concerned about what you do in your private life? And of those people, how many of them are actually going to devote their time and energy to stopping you, or even trying to dissuade you? In my own workplace, several of my coworkers know that I’m a Druid, many of those folks are practicing Christians, and none of them has ever been hostile toward me. Their reactions have ranged from “oh, okay” to “neat, tell me more about that!”
Indeed, some of the best conversations I’ve had about ADF and SLG have been with a former coworker who was a Charismatic Christian. Apart from the obvious differences in our religious beliefs, we actually had a good deal in common! Both of us were active in small (less than 100 member) congregations, both of our groups had trouble raising money, both of our groups had interpersonal issues which affected the whole congregation, and so on. And we both respected each other’s beliefs, and we never got hostile with each other.
In the original text of the ADF Dedicant Program, Ian Corrigan wrote: “Although there are circumstances beyond your control that can stand in your way or harm you and yours, you need not be at the mercy of those forces. Our modern word ‘Ethics’ comes directly from the Greek ethikos. For all of the Greek philosophers, ethikos was about achieving eudaimonia, literally ‘good fate,’ or ‘with the favor of the gods.’ Eudaimonia is usually translated as ‘fulfillment,’ or ‘leading a flourishing life.’ For the ancients, ethics was about having as much control as possible over one’s well-being. Although some aspects of eudaimonia are external to the individual, like having sufficient food, warmth, friends and loved ones with whom to interact, most of the elements of a flourishing life are internal goods which are within our control, or at least influence.”
Among the nine virtues listed in the DP text, we find:
* Courage: The ability to act appropriately in the face of danger
* Integrity: Honor; being trustworthy to oneself and to others, involving oath-keeping, honesty, fairness, respect, self-confidence…
* Perseverance: Drive; the motivation to pursue goals even when that pursuit becomes difficult
I would ask everyone who reads this, whether you’re an ADF member or not, to remember these virtues, and to try to exemplify them in your own lives. None of us is perfect, of course, but even if you falter, you should keep on trying. That’s what perseverance is all about. >8)
I believe that if you try to live your life as best you can, taking care of yourself, helping those in need, and honoring the Kindreds, then the Kindreds and your fellow humans will help you in your times of need. Even if there really are a bunch of deranged fundamentalists who are determined to ruin your next ritual. (Which there probably aren’t.)
(now Rev.) Rob Henderson
Senior Druid, Shining Lakes Grove, ADF