Letters from Midgard
There are the waste-my-time links: "Share this with your friends if you love sesame bagels, and receive cosmic blessings." (Who makes this stuff up?) There are political links from all over the spectrum. A fair amount of current biochemistry comes my way through Facebook. Don't forget all the family and "real" friend news. And there are posts and links about Asatru/Heathen issues. Lots of those.
I sometimes receive messages from friends through Facebook, informing me that some other friend or friends of mine are known 1488ers, and why I am still friends with them? Some such messages tell me flatly to unfriend so-and-so, or lose the friend who is making the demand.
The friends who send me such messages want to rid the world of one of its evils. The intent is easy to appreciate, although the methods are sometimes a little odd. They create their own Facebook groups, where all racists are banned, I tell you, banned. I'm not sure what good this does, as most of the Nazitru faithful only want to hang out with other Hitler Youth anyway.
Some of the people who are fingered in this way are a surprise. One such is a pretty blonde girl with very white skin, who, I was assured, is not really a person at all, but the invention of some guy who acquired photos of a young woman and then built a racist personality around the pictures. I guess the idea would be to interest young men in Nazitru heathenry by this ruse. Is it true? I don't know. She/He/It posts convincing young woman chatter about friends and shoes and such, mixed in with the occasional racist bombast. I do know that I wouldn't want to be the fraudster when the probably-tough young men he hoped to rope in found out who the object of their online affection really was.
In any case, I rarely unfriend anyone, even people I probably wouldn't have accepted as friends if I had known more about them at the time. Listening to what others think is important. It is especially important to listen to those I disagree with.
I may never change anyone's mind, but if I do, it won't be because I lectured and harangued and imposed my infallible logic on them, Bub-style. I'm all in favor of infallible logic, but have you noticed that people rarely change their minds because of it? Neither will it be because I excluded them from my list of Facebook friends and made them sad. (Oh, the horror!) Changing minds doesn't usually happen by telling people they are wrong. But it never happens when you aren't in some position to communicate with them. Sometimes it happens by listening to people you think are wrong and understanding how they are right. Let them know there may be another solution to the problem that annoys them. Then get on with your own life and don't expect much from them. It's their mind. Ultimately, they have to change it themselves. Or not.
Steven Thor Abell is a storyteller and the author of Days in Midgard: A Thousand Years On, a collection of original modern stories based on Heathen myths. As of 2013, he is also Steersman of the High Rede of The Troth.
Abell's column, "Letters from Midgard," is published on occasional Thursdays on the Pagan channel. Subscribe via email or RSS.