Thursday, October 28, 2010

Pagans, Politics, and Parties

Another election is coming up with all of the passion and intensity that comes with it. This election season has shaped up to be a particularly vicious one with partisans on both sides of the debate accusing the other of wanting to drive America off a cliff and into oblivion. Now by no stretch of the imagination am I anything approaching an objective observer in the process. Like any politically active Heathen I have a dog in this fight. That said there are things that are more important than my dog coming out on top.

This election season, at least in my limited life experience, has evolved into one of the ugliest in recent memory. Unfortunately this is hardly an anomaly, every election since 2002 seemed to be going for the gold in gutter politics and each successive election managed to find new and interesting ways to top the last. This has had a rather nasty effect on our community by forcing all political discussion through a highly partisan filter. The ugliness of political discourse coupled with the hyperpartisan atmosphere of American politics has effectively silenced the most important political conversation we should be having:

What do we, as a community, need to achieve through the political process for the sake of our communities and community?

Listening to the punditry politics has become a life-or-death fight to the finish. The partisans on both sides have consistently painted the other as a dire threat to the American way of life and that their way is THE way to fixing what ails our country. To cross the line, or work with, the other side has become anathema and finding a reasonable compromise is now ideological treason. Even with all the lip service given to “compromise” in reality the only compromise that happens is when one side forces the other to blink. The validity of an idea, based on its merits alone, has been replaced with an obsession with ideological correctness.

This thinking should have no place in our community. We are a polytheistic, pantheistic, animistic group of people. We have room for deity in many forms, not one limited by an old, heavily edited book. Dualistic, black and white theology and cosmology are ideas with very little following in our community. This thinking, a symptom of dualistic spirituality, is one of many things that should be considered incredibly stupid by Pagans and Heathens the world over.

Unlike Christianity we do not slot the world into two broad categories of good and evil. We have many Gods with many different personalities, aspects, and motivations. Instead of leading to internal tension and conflict this multiplicity of Gods has been a uniting force. Understanding these complex cosmologies is part and parcel of modern Paganism and Heathenry as is reconciling the old practices with modern day. If we are able to work with considerable differences in spirituality without a serious problem then politics shouldn't be any less taboo. With our spiritualities we are willing to be mature and respect well-founded opinions. We shouldn't be letting mainstream toxicity do the same with political discussion. It makes no sense on one hand to be willing to take a person for who they are regardless of faith on one hand and on another to make blanket decisions and assumptions about their politics. By making partisan assumptions about fellow Pagans and politics in general we divide and weaken ourselves.

Now I'm not expecting everyone to change their voter registration to the same party and vote in bloc. The odds of that happening are only slightly better than me flapping my arms and getting to the moon. What we can do is move beyond party labels, consider ideas on their merits instead of the sticker next to them, and remember that the Pagan activist on the other side of the party line stands beside you where it matters most. Reasonable people can agree to disagree on matters of opinion. Buying in to the life and death struggle narrative in the media only sets our most passionate, capable people against each other at the expense of our community. Accepting this big lie of black and white politics ensures our community, which neither party has the time of day for, will remain fighting itself instead of standing strong. Our spiritual world is open to many possibilities, why should our political world be cluttered with dualistic baggage?

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