Sunday, October 17, 2010

Tolerance...

It greatly disturbs me that we, as a society, seem to be leaning towards a more homogeneous society.  If we aren't all worshiping the same god or behaving the same way then those who don't are the enemy.  This country in particular was founded on the differences we have.  We wanted to be able to believe differently.  People fled the sameness in Europe and Britain to come here for religious freedom.  It didn't matter what the beliefs were, here people were free to believe as they chose to. 

Now, however, that isn't the case.  We (again as a society) seem to expect everyone to think alike and behave alike.  Women behave a particular way - they must like shopping and fashion.  Men must behave a particular way too - they  must like sports and so on. 

The sad thing about this homogeny is that it removes any chances for stellar people to stand out.  Where would we be if Henry Ford had become a Buggy builder instead of innovating the car?  Or where would we be if Thomas Edison hadn't created the light bulb? 

These people thought outside the box and believed they were capable of creating something better.  The religious and spiritual beliefs are the same.  If you look at the core beliefs of most religions you will find similar concepts.  Muslims, Buddhists, Christians, and Pagans all essentially have the same core beliefs.  Yet this seems to be a point of contention in our world.  We go back to the idea that all must believe the way I do (and you fill in the religion) or you are evil.  When will we outgrow this hateful and hurtful idea?

Most people know my mom is Methodist and my husband is Lutheran.  I took my daughters to the Methodist church so they would have an understanding of what organized religion was.  All the while I sat in church I hated it.  These are not my beliefs. 

Some who know me, know that I have chosen a different path.  Most who know me haven't a clue what my beliefs are.  I've guarded them.  I have told myself that it is because I don't want to embarrass or cause problems for my husband or my daughters.  I've skirted the issue many times in order to have some sense of normalness in life. 

These are the lies I've told myself.  In reality, I didn't want to face being different.  I've been different all my life and it is tiresome to always go against the flow.  If I'm going to tout tolerance for different beliefs then I need to be brave enough to stand up and say - I have different beliefs.  I am not a Christian like my mother or husband.  I am an eclectic witch who is seeking. 

Take a deep breath everyone - yes I used the witch word and it isn't a euphemism for bitch.  Before anyone jumps to conclusions here are my general beliefs.  I believe in a divine being.  I don't believe it is male or female.  I believe that it appears to people in those forms because we understand them but in reality the divine force is everything from the animals, plants, people, and even the earth itself.  It is everything and everywhere. 

I believe your actions and choices determine the type of life you have.  I believe in karma but again I think it is much more complicated than the simple you did bad so something bad will happen to you or you did good so something good will happen to you.  Life is a bunch of checks and balances.  Our choices determine what checks and balances happen to us.

Let me also state that while I may have these alternative beliefs from most people in society, I still go to work and pay my bills.  I don't sacrifice animals or children.  I don't worship a devil (don't believe in one).  I'm not having sex with goats or other farm animals.  These are all misconceptions about the Pagan beliefs.

I came to my beliefs later in life.  My sister Teri introduced me to some of the ideas and I've taught myself the rest in discovering who I am.  I am grateful Ken and the girls accepted my growth in this area. 

When I say we need to have tolerance for different beliefs and lifestyles I am not asking you to accept some strange far out beliefs.  I'm asking you to accept and understand me.

6 comments:

  1. Thank you for that. Recently, the Goddess has been doing some amazing things in my life that I won't go into here, but a theme has been emerging and that is one of pagans begging for acceptance. I have never been much of a writer or particularly gifted in any way, but I am hoping that a new path for my life is emerging and perhaps it has something to do with promoting understanding as well as showing the great love for life and the earth that we have. Thank you for your gifts of expression. I am usually very quiet, but do not think I am not paying attention.

    Peace and wonder,
    Katlaya

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  2. I wish I had done something like this on my blog, but I didn't. The closest I've come is a smart-mouthed journal entry in which I 'fess up. I love your courage and clarity about the subject.

    I've hesitated to do the same because I've worried about the possible effects on my son; we live in a small, very red town, where the virtues of conformity in matters of religion are strictly enforced. It's okay to be mainstream, or nothing at all, but Gods help you if are actively pursuing an alternate path. My son is in school; I have little doubt that some of his friends would be banned from our house if I came out of the broom closet.

    And yet, as you say, my fundamental beliefs are actually not that different from the fundamental beliefs of those around me.

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  3. Kat.. thank you. This path has brought me so much joy. I finally feel like I understand what my beliefs are and that they aren't so different. The one downfall is that most people just don't understand what the term witch or pagan is. Because they don't understand they react poorly. I'm in a place where I feel secure enough that I can say I am different in some ways but in more ways I am just like my neighbor, co-worker, and friends...

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  4. Bodie.. When the time is right for you and your son, then you will come out of the broom closet too. It is a long process and I used my family as a reason to be more reserved.. but it is time for me to be honest with myself and with the world. This aspect of me doesn't change all the others... I still go to work, have a strong midwestern work ethic.. I still have strong morals.. It is difficult for people to see past the label and our society is definitely into labeling people. Thank you for your support...

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  5. It's interesting...last night I watched a movie that had me thinking about this topic...about intolerance and Christianity (Catholicism in particular) and oppression (of woman). I have always questioned religious zealotry, even as a kid. I found it unacceptably contradicting that some religions teach of love and forgiveness while at the same time condemning and hating. However, I believe so firmly in a person's right to believe whatever feels right to him/her, I have a hard time doing to them what they so proudly do to others: condemn and hate them for their beliefs - however wrong and misguided and harmful they may be. :) I, personally, welcome differences and the opportunity to grow!

    It's hard in this society to be anything that isn't mainstream; growing up mixed in an all-white neighborhood, being raised by a single mother (twice divorced, yet) in a nuclear neighborhood, I knew what it was like to be different. It's sad that our society is such that we even notice these things, much less that we are made to feel less or bad for our differences...whatever they may be. It seems to go against everything this country was supposedly built on - or is it exactly what this country was built on?

    We still have a long way to go to be the kind of free country we claim to be, but we are at least to the point where folks can talk about things without being burned alive...for now.

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  6. Exactly - everyone is different in some way. This is the thing I don't get. Each of us is unique but somehow the vast majority of society expects all to be exact carbon copies of some ideal that they hold up. The problem is no one actually fits that mold. So everyone who doesn't which is all of us really gets blamed and then in some way destroyed. Look at how we treat gays and lesbians, non-white people, non-christian people.

    I certainly would not want to live in Iraq or most middle eastern countries but our country still has a long way to go before we can hold our society up as an example to live by.

    Beneath all of our differences there are similarities... love of family, friends, and even love of country... We need to embrace our differences and see our similarities...

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