Man, has this been a fucked up couple of years in politics. I never thought I would see the day when I’m embarrassed to be an American. We still have much better lives than developing countries, sure, like clean water (except for Flint) and places to live (except the 0.5% of the US population that doesn’t). However, our political stage is a shitshow and we are the laughing-stock-quickly-turning-grim on the world stage of other First World countries. We are pulling out of agreements, treaties, councils, etc. left and right. Our President is a confirmed sexual abuser who mocks disabled people and is horrifically bigoted and racist. He has actually talked about pardoning himself of crimes, while in office.
I would like to say that all pagans are on the same page, but that’s just not true. First, we have our own racism problem with people co-opting the messages of the Nordic traditions for their own White Power crap. Second, fluffy bunnies. Third, many many MANY organizations aren’t taking official stances because they’re afraid to lose their conservative membership.
That last one blew my mind. If a conservative member doesn’t like the politics that are shared by the leadership of a group or organization, and especially the majority of the membership, then shouldn’t we want them to hit the road? I’m not advocating kick them out. I am saying if we make a strong statement in support of basic human rights such as “We believe families belong together at the border”, and if someone has a problem with that basic human right, then let them leave. I personally don’t want to share energy, safe, OR brave space with them. I need to know that the people I’m engaging with feel the same way about humanity and basic rights as I do or it’s utterly disingenuous to say that we meet in “Perfect Love and Perfect Trust”.
I’ve heard the argument that we want our spiritual spaces to be free from the negativity of the political sphere, that we must create safe spaces, etc. I think the time for Safe Space is over, at least insofar as current US politics goes, and we should really be concentrating on Brave Spaces – where we can have civil, controversial discussions. Brave Space is MUCH more complicated, because it requires moderation, guidelines, agreements, and staying centered/grounded. Safe Space, in this instance, is a place to stick your head in the sand and we “just don’t talk about it because it’s uncomfortable”. Not at all saying Safe Spaces shouldn’t exist for those being abused. They serve a necessary purpose there. However, in a meeting of two equals who have different political opinions but are in the same spiritual group – unless we talk about it, nothing will ever change and nothing will ever get better.
Saying you want to have a space separate from politics seems very privileged, to me. There are people in the US that simply don’t have that luxury, because their lives ARE the politics. Why do you/we/us get a pass because we’ve decided we want to separate our spiritual lives from the politics of our country? If we’re on the field of battle, protesting, etc. isn’t that our spirituality? What about if we’re working on social justice issues? There is so much healing that needs to be done around all of this stuff, and who would argue that isn’t spiritual in nature also? I’m just saying, it feels wrong to think we can separate politics from our spiritual spaces.
Now, there is something to be said for resting. You take a few hours or days from social media, or the news, and that’s simply self-care. You return feeling stronger, more able to address it. But you know what? You could also choose to not engage in the political discussions or spaces that are being held for processing in your spiritual groups as well. Come back to it when you’re ready. I don’t suspect we would see knock-down-drag-out fights in our spiritual groups like we do on Facebook or Twitter, anyway, because we do have that basis of relationship with each other that should temper the responses somewhat. What I would expect is supporting each other in our fear, frustration, anxiety, and perhaps offer resources or let people know how this is informing your spiritual practice.
Going back to the second point really quickly: fluffy bunnies have been a problem for decades. I think it’s mostly a backlash against media painting pagans as evil, so we’re trying to prove to them we’re ULTRA nice and ULTRA good and all sweetness and light. Ugh. Excuse me while I throw up in my mouth a little. The time for that has to be past, right? There is so much actual evil in the world, are we really concerned with PR anymore? That some bigoted individual thinks a protection rune is the work of Satan…?
And then back to the first point, admittedly the one I have the least direct experience with but am the second most concerned with, is that of racism in the Asatru and Odinist communities. I won’t even take a stab at re-hashing this topic, because this article on Vice is very thorough. I highly recommend the additional read. This has been building for YEARS, but it was subtle and we weren’t paying attention. Especially within the prison systems and somewhat in the military, this has become insidious. They’re hiding in plain sight.
We are fighting the battle on two fronts here, guys. Externally against the shitshow that 45 has lit on fire and internally within paganism. I don’t have the answers, but I do know that compartmentalizing politics isn’t working.
We must acknowledge that politics are intertwined with our spirituality.
We must acknowledge that politics are intertwined with our spirituality, so we can address the fact that folks are twisting spiritual ideas to meet their own racist agendas.
We must acknowledge that politics are intertwined with our spirituality, so we can provide support to our brethren who are fighting the fight.
We must acknowledge that politics are intertwined with our spirituality, so we use all of our tools to fight against the creeping darkness of hate and toxic bigotry.
We must acknowledge that politics are intertwined with our spirituality, because we are whole beings – as above so below.
We simply must.