Intolerance: A Curable Disease
Author: Kestryl Angell
For some years now, I have been in solitary practice and have purposely placed myself in a position that allows me to observe the growth of the modern Pagan movement in the United States. One very significant thing has come to bother me through those observations. One that leaves me, to say the least, perturbed with my fellow human beings of every belief system, but assuredly of some that call themselves Pagan, as well.
Now, I realize that everyone on this planet is here for his or her own reasons, as well as for cosmic ones. I also realize that everyone grows, physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually at his/her own individual pace. But some things, to my mind, are basic points of human respect and are sadly and sorely missing from a society that is supposed to be “the most advanced society history has ever known, ” as some would phrase it.
Though there are many points of human weakness that are causing overall weakening ripples throughout the newer generations when it comes to ethics, I feel that there are a few that are particularly problematic and need to be addressed at every opportunity. I hope to write about several of these in the coming weeks, as I feel that discourse is where all solutions may be found. With that in mind, I’d like to begin with a personal favorite.
Let’s begin with intolerance.
What, really, is the point of going through a life-changing, spiritual awakening, a “rebirth” as many coming to their Paganism as adults from other more mainstream backgrounds often state they go through, if all they come to be is not Pagan at all, but really could be better characterized as “anti-Christian?”
Coming to a new spiritual path does not automatically make the one you came from innately “wrong.” It simply makes it wrong for you.
Perhaps you did have experiences with the darker side of human nature packaged as harmful behavior, selfishness, egotistical preaching, the use of fear as a control and all the bad things that are written about in the news every day. That does not automatically make every single person that practices that belief system wrong, evil, awful, stupid or deluded.
Therefore, it is just as wrong to condemn others in a blanket fashion as it was for them to condemn the various Pagan paths throughout the course of history. In other words, coming to Paganism just so you can feel justified in Christian- (or other belief systems including alternate paths of Paganism from your own) -bashing is as hypocritical as the day is long! Get real and lose the excuses!
Allowing something to exist and realizing it is different from yourself doesn’t give you the right to pass judgment on it’s correctness for another soul’s growth or it’s validity in the Universal scheme of things! You are not their Creator/Creatrix. You are not here to live their path. In fact, you have no idea what is going on in their karmic path, in their personal development that might be assisting them to be learning lessons you don’t even have the strength to recognize, much less deal with yourself.
If you consider those who follow “younger” faiths than your own to be “deluded, ” it is you that does not understand the growth of the soul. It is you that is still struggling with the idea that the Universe has bigger plans than your little human eyes and mind can fully comprehend and it is you that is making a fool of yourself by stomping your proverbial feet and saying you KNOW better!
For yourself, yes – you may know that what you left behind isn’t what you need. For others? That is theirs to choose and theirs to choose free from your judgment and condemnation of that choice – just as your choice to become Pagan was your own and was equally as worthy of not being judged negatively by their fears or ignorance.
Just because you yourself happen to be in “spiritual middle school” doesn’t mean you have the right to pick on the “spiritual kindergartners.”
Furthermore, spiritual middle-schoolers don’t have anything on the spiritual college students and PhD s, but nearly every single time you will see them shining loudly in their personal struggle with their own ego by the way they attempt to play children’s one-upsmanship-games with their Elders, while showing glaring examples of their own ignorance by their complete lack of basic respect for the efforts, knowledge base and wisdom of the Elders they’ve been honored to come to know and learn from.
They would rather argue entomology of a specific word of a specific dialect than seek out the fullness of all meanings of the given word to more fully explore its meanings before making a decision as it applies to their own cause.
They would rather see other’s ignorance as “proof” of their own self-proclaimed greatness while never realizing that those things greatest in this world don’t need human declarations to make them great.
It was said by the writer, John G. Neihardt, “Humility is bowing before Truth. Humiliation is bowing before people.” Humility, Tolerance and Compassion are the internal partnership that should come to a truly spiritually awakened being – not their old set of personal and world grievances packaged in a new dogmatic format.
There are those under the Pagan umbrella who will say, “Well, I don’t believe in karma like that.” or “Respect is earned, not just given willy-nilly.” or “Well, in my belief system the world runs on the eye for an eye principle so if someone screws me over or makes me feel stupid, I can do whatever it takes to level that playing field.”
You don’t have to believe in karma to understand that what goes around comes around.
Universal principles exist and show themselves, with or without your belief in them or your petty arguments on terminology for said events. The seasons, the life/death cycle, “acts of God” weather and other Universal events will soon show you differently if you truly feel you’re the one in control of the entire world’s development!
The only thing that glaringly, embarrassingly shows, like a run in your brand new stockings, is your own overblown ego if you refuse to understand there are forces larger than yourself at work in the Universe as a whole.
Respect should indeed be earned within specific arenas such as professions and education, to name but a few. However, there should also be a basic, human respect of one living being to another, without the need to prove anything other than that they too are a person living on this planet with the same basic needs and desires as every other human being on the planet – good, nutritional food, clean water, community, family and the like. Even if their needs and desires don’t immediately meet or match your own doesn’t make yours or theirs any more or less vital or valid than the other.
As for the “eye for an eye” folks, all that happens when you take out the eye of another based on that principle is that you end up going blind, in one way or another, yourself.
I am not saying forgiveness is always the answer or that “turn the other cheek” is the answer in all situations either. But more often than not, when a human being thinks his or her own bruised ego, knee-jerk, forceful, violent ways are the answer; it is the opposite answer that is usually the one that would actually solve the problem for good.
Differences in personal dogma have been call and cause for the culling of our world populations for centuries, since the beginning of known, current history. Do we really need to continue to prove to ourselves that human beings can find constantly new and more awful ways to be horrendous to one another?
Furthermore, why are we still actually entertained by such violence or allow something as petty as big business concerns to be the reason our fellow human beings proudly go off to die by the hundreds of thousands in service to their country – with a very few that make it home alive only to find that they have no home to come back to?
This is not to say that I am all the “Light, Love and Happiness, Rainbows and Pretty Unicorns All Day Every Day!” kind of dreamer. I simply feel that the Universe itself already has chaos and death and violence in its own makeup without human beings adding to the mix out of basic ignorance, ego, selfishness and intolerance.
Mother Nature has that whole destruction thing down pat, people! She doesn’t need our scum covered little human toddler hands muddling up the works by trying to “help!”
Like kids in the playground sandbox, we’re still caught up, after all these centuries in basic Intolerance-based border skirmishes! Pagan communities are just as guilty of this issue as many Christian organizations and many of the “problems” that I hear bantered about in mainstream organizations are just as rampant in Pagan ones because we still aren’t addressing Intolerance actively as individuals, much less as a community! You cannot claim to be better than the thing you abhor and left behind if you’re guilty of the same crimes against humanity after you change sides.
Border skirmishes based on differences of dogma were a good portion of the basis of the Middle Eastern conflict since long before the US ever became interested enough in the business aspects that finally rooted our entry into the wars in the Middle East.
Border skirmishes based on intolerance, racial differences, religious differences are at the root basis of much of the gang violence rampant in Los Angeles and many other parts of the US and have even gone so far as to spawn their own subculture out of the necessities of their living circumstances rather than strengthening as a community to truly fight the issues that took them to that point of de-evolution that effects gang neighborhoods.
Border skirmishes based on Intolerance, lies and violence were what displaced every Native American in this country when the English, French, Spanish and others all came to a land the Natives had already figured out how to live harmoniously upon.
Did those people who were new here listen to those that had lived there for generations?
Oh no, they were seen as “ignorant savages” who knew nothing of community elderly and child care, community health care, balanced inter-tribal politics and trade or even the simplest necessities for making it through the winter alive.
Yet, here we are still stuck in wars where body counts, gun counts, missile counts and cash numbers, advertising and fear tactics, biological and chemical weapons of mass destruction threaten the supposedly “enlightened” peoples of this day and age? Seriously?
Can’t we just get out of the sand box, stop fighting over who brought the coolest toys or who can do the most damage and have some dang milk and cookies like good little spiritual brothers and sisters here?
Intolerance should have no place in the modern human mind.
Look to the simpler, tribal times of our ancient ancestors and to those who are still living in those harmonious ways in many places in the world today that we spoiled Americans call “third world, undeveloped” countries. Perhaps they don’t have our amenities in their homes, our advertising and fast and un-nutritious foods on every corner of their city streets or even have motorized vehicles.
But when women group together to gather the water for entire streets and neighborhoods while singing, serving more than just their own family’s needs every single day, it is we who could learn something from their joyful song and service.
When villages in South America that have disagreed for generations can work together to build pipelines for water for both villages’ benefit, we have something to learn from those “savages.”
When doctors and shamans in Tibet still ride donkeys or walk, sometimes for days, to treat the ill in body, mind and spirit and the community comes together to see to the needs of that doctor if the patient cannot pay for services themselves, it is our “modern physicians” and spiritual healers that could learn something about true caring compassionate healing for a patient and our community’s selfishly spoiled upper crust could learn what it means to make sure that all are cared for instead of arguing over whether or not our individual choices can remain as cushy as we’re selfishly accustomed to as we begin to explore a National Health care system in the US.
Get a clue, people! In the United States, our biggest sign of malnutrition is the over 65% of our citizens suffering from obesity! There are currently over 154, 000 US veterans – those that fought for our right to be this freely spoiled rotten – living on the streets, homeless!
Our ignorance, gluttony and selfishness is written all over us in our own fat flesh and high blood pressure ratings while these other “uncivilized” peoples starve from lack of food and clean water, but have us completely beaten on how to treat each other as human beings!
How can that be acceptable to educated, aware, community members? ANY community, much less ones who supposedly WORSHIP Nature’s balance and bounty?
Let’s also be keeping in mind that most of the other major countries of the world have already gotten some of these questions, such as National Health care, answered successfully decades ago and it is the US that is catching up and griping all the way about rises in taxes to help the overall common good of all Americans, top to bottom of the food chain.
Canadians are thrilled to only be paying 10% taxes right now, down from the 18-20% its been in the past to help pay for their health care system and other social amenities currently underdeveloped and desperately needed in the US.
Those in the UK have paid the English equivalent of anywhere from $10-20 per gallon for gasoline for years and yet Americans were having fits over gas hitting $4 per gallon within the last year? Who is it really that needs to get real, learn some Tolerance for people and for change and learn to attune as citizens of the world’s needs instead of for their own selfish, individualized gains and stunted, silent caste systems of bigoted intolerance so obviously still active in many places in our country?
How can it not be seen that intolerance is at the root of all of these issues…and that it is a curable state of being that, if taken on by the whole of a community, doesn’t really weigh all that hard on the individual?
As a student of the Universe, I do not look for a time when all people will “believe as one.” I do not believe that Harmony requires everything be alike, as that in itself would also be an imbalance. Diversity is a necessity of life. If sameness were the truth of how things should be, music wouldn’t have different notes that make up the chords that sing the songs of the Universe through orchestrations. Harmony is created when notes co-exist on different lines for their own sake and in their own timing to a rhythm that is greater than each individual note.
Therefore, what I look forward to is the day when individuals can learn from and about other’s beliefs without their own being threatened in any way, without fear or disgust. I look forward to the day when those that do not believe the same way can simply agree to disagree and still work for the common good of all living beings on the planet. I look forward to the time when tolerance and compassion is as common a pair of qualities in human beings as ego, laziness, selfishness and desire.
I look forward to the awakening of human beings to the idea that tolerance is not acceptance nor is it automatically an admission of support of the differing idea or practice presented. I look forward to the day humans sing in beautiful, diversified harmony, the song of the planet’s common good.
Tolerance is simply the ability to allow all things to exist, as the Universe would have them, not as you would have them. Tolerance means allowing even those things that you do not agree with personally to exist for those who do believe in them.
Tolerance is difficult, however, as it requires a type of fearful and fearless faith in the patterns of the Universe to be “correct, ” whether we human beings see that correctness, the fullness of the pattern or not. This is not a concept that many human beings find easy to comprehend, much less practice inside themselves or in their daily lives. However, if goals such as this were easy, there would be no need for the inner battles that make each of us better people.
I believe Tolerance is a worthy and attainable goal for every individual that can have the bettering ripple effect of creating a harmony as yet unseen by modern history.
Care to join the experiment?