This election year has brought attention in ways that feel quite different from the past. There is a lot at stake in the next four years within this country. With an upside down economy, out of control unemployment rates and troops in the Middle East, the focus of this election is scattered. In thinking about this election and what it means to me I look at the potential effects from the eyes of an African American, middle class, Pagan Woman.
The descriptors used in the last sentence are my best starting point to express the cultural base of my thoughts. I am a minority in almost all senses of the word and gaze at this election from that very perspective. I am also a counselor and social worker that look at the world from the lens of the failing social structures that hamper people in their ability to thrive.
This election is about more than the economy, therefore I would like to look at two points; the minority voice and the disrespect of women’s rights. There appears to be a political struggle to assess and then assign value to the undervalued voices ofAmerica. I see an election that is working from a core that might just be looking at White, Christian, and upper class as the standard. I fit in none of those categories and feel a growing concern at how the minorities of this country might be lost in the rhetoric of an election that is fueled with the undertones of racism and disregard for others.
In last weeks debate the republican candidate made a comment that we all came from the same God and I thought about how presumptuous that was on his part to say that to such a diverse nation. My immediate response ended up on facebook, detailing out how our Gods were not the same because mine had a vagina. I don’t know others version of God and I felt disrespected that he assumed he knew mine. That is largely a point that I feel is getting lost in this election.
So why is this election important to Pagans? To Black Pagans? For our traditions? This election is important because Romney does not respect the views, ethics, beliefs or practices of any minority group that he is not a card carrying member of. His simplistic views that we are all of the “same God” are equivalent to saying that my Gods don’t exist. Saying that the answer to assault weapons and violence is somehow related to single parent homes is the same as saying that single parents struggle because they don’t hold his religious values and are a source of pain in this country. Believing that your religious beliefs are more important than my rights to my own body is the same as condemning me legally on behalf of your personal religion. There is so much at stake.
This election is about more than the economy; it is about freedom of choice, religious diversity, racial equality and a social movement for the needs of ALL people to thrive. When we come from the perspective that we have the answers to replace another culture’s choices and rights, we are heading down a path of familiarity for this country. This country has too much experience in making assumptions that result in the removal of rights and freedoms of an entire group of people, also resulting in discrimination and death.
The attack against women from several politicians this election is another concern for polytheistic traditions. Women are the givers and takers of life and Goddess worship is one of the focal points in most Pagan traditions. An attack against the rights and needs of women feel like an attack against the Goddess and her children. The Gods transcend human reasoning. How can we dictate the rights of the very givers of life? The Goddess is in control of her own needs, body and visions. It is when we forget that the Goddess is to be worshipped that we imagine that we have rights over her body.
With that point, the women’s rights issues are not just about abortion rights but also about our right to feminine medical services and protection against rape. This campaign has brought out many harmful ideals about when a woman can be considered a victim because it is a “legitimate” rape versus one that is…. not. To legitimize any version of rape is irresponsible to the victim and negligent towards women in this country. These are civil rights issues. Equal protection under the law and freedom from discrimination are not subjected to gender differentials. Gender equality within the polarity of Wiccan beliefs is central to our practice, working together as equal yet separate yet together whole. The division of women’s rights issues puts the power of our everyday Goddess care in the hands of men who do not care nor feel a need to protect or preserve it.
I am not here to impose my personal views as a part of my religious affiliation and instead want to point out the respect that Paganism holds for personal choice is paramount to our belief systems. A system that takes that away from the people is in direct conflict with the needs and beliefs of the vast diversity within our traditions.
There is often a sentiment in minority groups that once we allow rights to be taken away from one group, who will be next? Defending our country from attack includes a defensive stance to protect the rights we need as minority practitioners and minority communities within theUnited States.
In December of 2007 Romney said in a speech “Freedom requires religion, just as religion requires freedom”. In a later interview for Meet the Press, Romney referred to this statement by saying that it was important for us to have a recognition of our religious base in order to continue to be a great nation and went on to talk about our moral code between right and wrong. He used the same statement in 2008 about being from the same God as he did in the 2012 debate.
Not only are such statements inaccurate but they are also insensitive to the many people who practice different religions and spiritualities in the United States. The laws that govern this nation protect Pagan beliefs and allow us the freedom to worship the Gods in all their splendor. Any assumptions from politicians that include us all as one religious body or under the umbrella of one specific God are a threat to Pagans, and all other minority religions.
So while I watch the world vote on everything from race to economics, I often wonder if I am the only person worried about religious respect, personal freedom and the rights of women. The attacks and complete disregard for values I hold dear in my professional and spiritual life solidify a vote for a man that understands the needs of diverse communities, respects the differences in others and does not assume that his God is better than my Goddess.
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