“Let us remember that the arc of a moral universe is long
but it bends toward justice.”
~Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. 1962
In this season when so many of us will be remembering our own Ancestors and a variety of Honored and Beloved Dead, casting Circles, dancing in Spirals; it is both funny and synchronous I now find myself contemplating an Arc.
It started as I was surfing through FaceBook the other day, and someone had posted about how they couldn’t believe that they were seeing GLBT folks being added to Federal Hate Crimes legislation here in the U.S. They were surprised, and amazed and overjoyed, to see it happening in their lifetime. I am glad for them, and a little saddened that it should come as such a surprise to folks.
I am really not all that shocked or surprised at this development. As a Pagan and a Gay man I have seen a lot of changes already in my lifetime. I was born in March of 1972. Later that year the American Psychological Association removed homosexuality from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, its authoritative list of mental disorders and illnesses.
Surprised? No. Gladdened, yes; and heartened, and inspired to pick up some torches I had dropped recently, but not surprised. I AM surprised that it took so many average people of conscience so long to see the rightness of equal rights and human rights, but we humans can be pretty dense sometimes. I am something of an idealist, or so I have been told, and I have every expectation that I will see true GLBT equality, and Gay Marriage, in my lifetime; because these are right and true causes rooted in morality, honor, love, and justice.
As the example of Dr. King, and the U.S. Civil Rights Movement of the 1960’s shows, when people of conscience and faith gather around shared values they can change the world for the better. We can change the world for the better. So now, in this season of Samhain, when I remember and seek ways to honor the memories and spirits of my Beloved and Honored Dead; I find my mind turning to those causes of equality and justice and rights that some of them lived and died to help bring about. I find myself wondering…
“What can I do? What can we in the Pagan community do?”
(And YES, as a matter of fact I did go there, I DID say that oh SO scandalous “C”-word!)
I have said here before, among other places, that Paganism is a religious, spiritual, and social movement made up of several overlapping and intertwined religious and regional communities. Recently I am debating about that definition with myself. Juniper from Walking the Hedge made some excellent points in An Open Letter to the Pagan Community that, Yes, we are a community actually and could we please stop arguing that point and look at how we could be a better and more functioning one please?
Yewtree over at the dance of the elements bog, in her post on Community among Pagans and Unitarians, makes the point about how Unitarians (British cousins to the Unitarian Universalists) who, like U.U.’s are of many faiths, gather around and covenant within and are unified into beloved community by shared values and principles and moral beliefs. I know that part of why I have become a Unitarian Universalist is that going to Services and seeking to covenant around the Principles of Unitarian Universalism allows me to better act upon and live the virtues and values I have embraced as a Witch. These facts and this ability of U.U.’s to covenant and create beloved community based on shared values was, I now realize, part of what inspired the 2009 IPVBM.
We are a Community and we share similar and interwoven and interconnected values. We do not all share the exact same list, nor should we, but our lists and their key points have enough in common that I think we could engage in a little forgiveness about past infighting and Pagan drama and work together in service of our many Gods, living our values and faiths, and stand up for what is right and honorable and true and loving and good; so, inspired by the example of some of the Honored Dead, what should we do?
Beth Owl’s Daughter reminds us that Freedom of Religion is one of those Rights that is not simply handed to us, we must be willing to stand up and invoke and protect our rights. Even with legal protections in place we can face hardship and injustice simply for our faiths.
In a similar vein, T. Thorn Coyle in her blog post for IPVBM 2009, observed that we in the U.S. have let much of our public policy debates fall to the arguments of (predominantly) Christian Conservatives and Secular Liberals. Where is the diversity of voices one would expect in the Great American Melting Pot?
Here in the U.S. 1 in every 8 people is going hungry, and across the U.S. and the world, poverty and the recession are hitting folks harder and harder.
Then too, there are those who seek to line their pockets and fill their pews while stepping over the blood and bones of children and helpless old women.
What would our Ancestors think of thse things? What DO our many Goddesses and Gods think of that? Do such things serve the All That Is? Most importantly, what are WE as people of conscience, and values, and many faiths; what shall we do about these things?