Yesterday, I attended another meeting of the DFW Pagan Pride Day coordinating committee. There were lots of comments, ideas, and suggestions tossed around the room — but walking away from all that and coming back to the house….it struck me that we all treated one another with respect and admiration. At the end of the meeting, we all stuck around and did a short interview with St. Cloud Pagan Radio which was a lot of fun. During the meeting, we laughed, we had serious discussions, we laughed a lot more, one of the folks there even sang a little bit (what an awesome voice)…we acted like a community. A small slice of it. But it was a definite thing.
People have asked me before what I am seeking from a Pagan community event like Pagan Pride Day. If I could bottle all that happened yesterday and let you drink the result to see what it tasted like – I certainly would. Because that was IT. People talking, sharing, laughing, problem-solving, discussing, telling stories…and not worried one bit if they were sitting among a group of Druids, Wiccans, hedge-Witches, Ceremonial Magicians, Christians, Hindus, Muslims, or what have you. Community – at least for me – is about connecting with people. And really connecting – not just nodding, tossing out proposals for business related concepts…that’s not what I see community as being all about. Community is for sharing, story-telling, getting past our differences and celebrating not only those differences, but also our similarities. But its about so much more than this as well…
Harmony — People will disagree on many points and topics. Some folks wear that disagree as if it were a personal insult. “Good thinking people will think EXACTLY as I do. Anyone that disagrees is personally insulting me.” I’ve been on both sides of that coin, folks. When someone disagrees with you – they disagree. It doesn’t mean they HATE you and are out to ruin your reputation. Granted, there really are people like that in the world. But those folks are so few and far between, that your chances of meeting them are slim to none. Discussion is about talking and sharing ideas. It can also bring elements of story-telling into the mix as well. And there are PLENTY of stories I can tell about the various Information Technology goof-ups that I have done over the years. As I tell my students in the classroom – if there’s a way to do it wrong, I’ve likely done it. But just because discussion and story-telling don’t need to focus on issues and problems – that doesn’t mean that stuff like that needs to be left out of a community’s thinking.
Problem-Solving — Discussion will lead to differences of opinion, as well as the lamentation over an individual’s (or even a group’s) problems. This is where problem-solving comes in. Ok, I’m a Libra – and damn biased on this. I’m definitely one of those “peace-maker” types. I also have years of experience tinkering with things and trying to figure out how to fix them. The stuff is in my blood. But I also believe that a Community can have some of that same DNA. For instance, someone needs to move from one apartment to another – but their “friends” bail on them. They could appeal their need to the community at large. Not every person will have the time or energy available to help out, but those that can and have the ambition should. And those that do help out, should not be looked at as “go-to” people – they just happened to be free during that time. A community helps one another out of a sense of being helpful…not out of a sense of “what can you do for me afterwards?” And yes, I’ve seen that happen far too often. I offer myself as free technical support to people I know. My skills aren’t what they used to be – I can’t troubleshoot Windows 8 issues to save my life – but I will certainly try when asked. And I don’t expect anything beyond a “thank you” when I’m finished. If someone feels moved to provide me with a lunch/dinner somewhere…that’s their choice. I wasn’t expecting. Why do I do that? Because I am part of my community. And if we all jump up and down and say “Yah” when things have been solved/resolved…
Celebration — …then we celebrate! We celebrate aspects of the Wheel of the Year. No matter what faith you are, even Christians, we all celebrate some aspect of the year as we move along. We have holidays built into the year to celebrate other parts of our lives – Fourth of July (here in the States), Thanksgiving (predominantly here in the States), New Year’s Eve/Day (for the turning of the Julian calendar)…we get together to celebrate making it to another point in the turn of that Wheel. We celebrate the people who have passed beyond the veil. Well, Pagan Pride Day is about celebrating “us” as a “community”. We celebrate what makes us the Pagans that we are and the commonalities that we have. We celebrate the fact that there are differences amongst us – that we all come to the fire from different positions around it, and yet still enjoy its warmth and those that have gathered around it with us.
For the Future — Holding a Pagan Pride Day in the community isn’t just about showing that you are proud to be a Pagan. Its not just about building up our community for today. Its also about making the community better and stronger going forward for the future generation of Pagans that come after us. Most of us that are my age (30ish, 40-ish), we are the second generation of Pagans coming through (and I know that’s a perspective that can be argued until we all go blue in the face and become smurfs) in what I describe as the “modern age”. Forget the terminology that I am using – those are just descriptives to get to this point: there are younger Pagans coming onto the Path. If we want a sense of “Community” to be a part of what we teach to them – and I certainly do – then we need to build its foundations here and now. They will be the ones that add the walls, the doorways, the ceilings, the electrical wiring (to borrow some house-building terminology). After them, the generation behind them will add the furniture, make the improvements on the structure so that it works for them…and so on. Personally, I want to see Paganism – the wider arching concept of Paganism, not any singular aspect of it – take its rightfully place as one of the dominant belief systems in our Humanity. I not only see a lot of need for it in the world, but I also believe that Paganism will continue to grow and expand as it learns from these other cultural/societal belief systems. As “white-lighter” as it sounds – I can see Paganism providing the bridge for these other belief systems to learn to coexist with one another. Its not going to happen in my current lifetime…and it may not happen for a long, long time.
But I do believe it can…and all because of five Pagans – sitting in a living room discussing what needed to be done for an upcoming Pagan Pride Day event. To quote from the movie Prometheus: “Big things have small beginnings.”