I intended yesterday’s post on the perspective of the gods to be about the importance of taking a longer range view of things, but it ended up going in a slightly different direction. So today I want to come back to the topic of time and the rate of change. What I have to say can be summed up fairly simply:
Big changes happen slowly. Work diligently.
Evolution is perhaps the most obvious example. After the giant reptiles were killed off, it took 60 million years for the first human-like creature to evolve. After that it took another four million years for the first humans who were more or less like us to appear.
Slavery was legal in this country for over 200 years. It took a war to end it, and it took another 100 years for civil rights to be extended to the descendants of former slaves. Almost 50 years after that we still don’t have true racial equality. The campaigns for justice for other oppressed people have similar stories.
I could go on and talk about medical improvements, technological advances, changes in religious beliefs and practices and such, but the point is the same – big changes happen slowly. They happen slowly because they are complicated and because they are hard. They happen slowly because all of us get comfortable in our habits and we don’t want to change.
But there are a lot of changes I’d like to see, some very personal and some involving the whole world.
I want to see the expansion of Nature religion. I want to see it expressed both theistically and non-theistically, and I want to see those two branches working together based on their common interests and not fighting based on their disagreements. I want to see the same mutual respect and cooperation between the monotheists and the polytheists, and between polytheists of the soft and hard varieties.
I want to see Western culture shift its emphasis on “more” to an emphasis on “enough.” And then from “enough for me” to “enough for all.”
I want to experience more and learn more about my gods and goddesses. I’m in no great hurry to take up residence in the Otherworld, but I want to understand it better than I do now. I want to know!
None of these changes are small. The societal changes will take decades, maybe centuries. The personal changes are in process, but they won’t be as far as I’d like them to be – much less anything resembling “complete” – in this life. But these are things I feel called to do.
Nothing big happens quickly. I keep hearing people talk about “the shift” – how good things are going to be when humanity makes the big shift in consciousness that’s just around the corner.
When has humanity ever made a big, sudden shift in consciousness? “The shift” is another form of apocalyptic thinking, and apocalyptic prophecies are always wrong. Always.
Much of ancient paganism was focused on the family and the tribe. Our society focuses almost entirely on the individual. This is one of the hard changes we need to make. We who are fortunate to be part of the early stages of modern Pagan religion (or religions, if you prefer) have an obligation to build on the foundation that was laid by those who came before us and to create lasting structures, institutions and practices that will allow future generations to thrive.
We who are fortunate enough to live in this time and place of plenty have an obligation make sure there are wild places, diverse species and a hospitable climate for those who come after us. “Enough” means enough for all.
These are the things I believe my goddesses and gods are calling me to do, to work toward making real.
Are you hearing this call? Or one like it?
These things are hard and they are slow, but the perspective of the gods is longer than your lifetime. Do what you’re called to do, even if you can’t see the end from where you are now. As Isaac Bonewits used to say, the change will come “as fast as a speeding oak.”