Respectfully Demanding Tolerance

“It demands great spiritual resilience not to hate the hater whose foot is on your neck, and an even greater miracle of perception and charity not to teach your child to hate.”” – James Arthur Baldwin.

I have avoided writing about my position on the Z Budapest conflicts that continue to infiltrate the web throughout the last two years.  In trying to hold respect for an elder of the path that has contributed so much, I have held my tongue when I really wanted to speak.  This week I was priviledged to participate in one of the Pagan Hangouts that are being coordinated by Star Foster and the topic was active tolerance.  I made some statements on the hangout that referred to our responsibility to actively work towards tolerance in the Pagan community by not accepting the “okie doke” and allowing our differences to respectfully be seen and heard.  Turning our heads and neglecting to be a part of demanding respectful engagement is not acceptable; we are all responsible for the idea of having a tolerant community.


And with that, my next thought is “oh boy…. why did I say that?  Here we go…”.


Here we are again with another series of statements made by Z Budapest where the use of really derogatory words are being used, such as trannie, and it has pushed me to speak.  I don’t want to jump on any bandwagon and my soapbox is somewhere in the garage, so instead I will try to practice what I preach by talking about one of the unsettling moments where respect and tolerance is not being extended and I am not willing to walk away from the values I hold for my community.

There was a time, not so long ago, where Black people, ethnic people, gay people or even women were denied chances to actively participate in the wider community.  Many people have fought against  social injustice and supported the equal rights for people regardless of what category someone might fall into.  The disparities among different classes of people have been apparent throughout time and the struggle for fair rights continue on today.  We are actively fighting against prejudice today, as we should.

It has never, in my opinion, been justified or acceptable to judge someone based on race, gender, sex, nationality or socioeconomic status.  Everyone should have equal rights and opportunities under the law.

I wonder how it becomes ok to display overt acts of harmful hate speech while claiming to fight for the rights of women, or anyone for that matter.  We cannot repeat the same acts that we are fighting against in order to demand different treatment.  This is so confusing to me.

When hate becomes justified we are opening doors for all kinds of hatred, regardless of the circumstances.  If the Pagan community endorses the use of words like trannie or referring to transgendered as “marines in lipstick”, it is equivalent to endorsing the use of fag, nigger or any other word that is meant to degrade a group of people as if they were less than human, less than a living God or Goddess.  The last time I looked I did not see one characteristic of my being that justified treatment that was any less respectful than another.  My race nor my sex is an acceptable excuse to willfully discriminate or use verbal hate.

Today I stand up within the walls of my living room and to this spiritual community, to say there is no room for this in the Pagan community.  There is no room for this in the world but that is another subject for another time.

My mother would tell me stories of segregation and what it was like to be in the south during a time when her skin dictated her worth to the world.  She told me about being bussed to another school or restricted by others due to their ideals of her as a Black girl.  I don’t know if it makes me angrier to know that my mother had to live through that version of the world or that I do today in my own spiritual community.

We have to understand that we do not receive rights by taking others away.  We cannot expect respect until we learn to give it.  We cannot demand tolerance and understanding if we actively work to take it away from others.  Hate sets a standard that equals hate; we mirror for others how to operate in the world and within ours.  When we lump together a group of people and make an assessment of their right to love and fair treatment, we are discriminating and it is an act of prejudice.  When we polarize an issue we create a winner and a loser.  We have to ask ourselves what it means if one part of our community loses and if “they” lose then how can anyone win?

Within each of us we possess the essence of the earth, air, fire, water, and the male/female essence of divinity.  Not only do we possess each piece of the universe within our bodies, the work that it takes to balance all the varying parts require respect for the roles each part plays.  To deny a part of ourselves is to deny the self.

I realize without a shadow of a doubt that I am strong because I am Woman and my very being was made by a guy named Marvin and a woman named Cora.  My mother is not responsible for creating me alone and therefore I extend respect to all as I am a product of the duality of human nature.  The sense of self loathing that is ever present in discrimination shows that we have a lot of work to do in our ability to accept the self so that we can accept others.

Tolerance is not passive, it is something we decide on, focus on, embrace, practice and demand.  Today it is time to say we are no longer allowing a false sense of tolerance in the Pagan community to mask our own version of the microcosm of the greater society that we fight against.  We create what we say we hate instead of love what we want to be loved for.

In my day job I work with some of the most incredible yet impoverished kids and we work to identify who they are and who they want to be.  Then they work hard to identify how to work within their own integrity, a sense of being able to match their insides with their outsides.  Any journey to wholeness starts inside and we move to bring it outward to create the very world we want to live in.

Maybe we need to start from scratch.  In order to truly embrace tolerance and acceptance everyone should dig inside of the self and identify those things that are divine.  Then look at the very people whom walk the halls of the next Pagan convention, stand across from you in the next open circle or post something ridiculous on the internet and find those same qualities inside of each of them.  Don’t stop looking until you find what you are looking for.  And just maybe then we will have a harder time listening to or calling someone a “trannie” (or insert your own version of intolerance here).



Note:  This blog is not meant to open the doors to defending intolerance.  This blog is not meant to disrespect any one person but an acceptance of intolerance among our own.  Please be respectful in your displays of community if you wish to comment.  I do not plan to accept verbal discrimination or hate towards anyone in the comments as a result to this piece.


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