Tragedy in Arizona: Pagan Perspective on Political Violence

Like the rest of you, I’m glued to the breaking news regarding the shooting of Gabrielle Giffords and several others at a public event in Arizona. I’m sad, I’m angry and I’m bewildered and I don’t even know anyone in Arizona. My grief is that of an American and cannot compare to the grief of the families and friends of both the victims and the shooter. I cannot imagine what they must be going through and I’m sure the media and speculation only makes this worse for them.

Most forms of Paganism do not prohibit violence. There are Pagan pacifists and of course Wiccans follow the Rede, although it’s interpretation varies. In fact, ancient Pagans were a more violent people than we are today. It was part of life to engage in defensive and offensive violence to protect your tribe. However, then, as now, there were rules about violence. If you had to engage in violence you wanted to do so in an above-board way so as to bring honor to your people. From wrestling and games to war, ancient Pagans created rules of engagement we still use today.

Assassination was not well-regarded. Do you know the names of those who jumped Ceasar on the Ides of March? You’re lucky if you can recall Marcus Brutus, and that’s only through the phenomenon of Shakespeare and his penchant for memorable one-liners. In a Republic that valued the political process and considered it sacred, political assassination was a cowardly act.

As Americans we have inherited the democracy of Greece and Rome, and we value the political process. We value the idea that the people elect people to represent them, that we choose our avatars to work for us at every level of government. Political assassination is not only cowardly, but it is sacrilegious. It violates that which we hold sacred. It brings dishonor upon us all.

Part of democracy is the very Pagan tradition of talking smack and rooting for our “own team”. It is good to take pride in your party and be loyal to their ideals. Yet I hope that at this moment we recognize that even as we engage in speculation and political gossip that this is an act that goes against the core of what we all hold sacred. Our battles take place at the voting booth and we all respect the score and hold the scorekeeper to a high standard. To attempt to “change the score” by an act of violence because you disagree with a representative’s views on politics or religion is shameful.

My heart goes out to the victims, their families and friends. May they receive the healing and support they need and the time they need to re-inhabit their lives after this tragedy. My heart goes out to the families of those who perpetrated this violent act, for the shame and heartache they must bear. My heart goes out to all who are frightened and disturbed by this violent attack on our political process, which we hold to be holy and sacred.

My prayers go to Nemesis. My call is for justice. There is a great debt to be paid for the suffering and loss in Arizona today. As a nation our Ma’at is askew. May Themis bring us back into right relation with each other and may Reason take her rightful place in our government. May the power and place of violence be respected.

The Managing Editor of our Catholic portal, Elizabeth Scalia, is also keeping tabs on the tragedy over on her blog: The Anchoress.

About Star Foster

Polytheistic Wiccan initiated into the Ravenwood tradition, she has many opinions. Some of them are actually useful.

  • http://www.patheos.com Star Foster

    I think Nemesis is difficult to embrace, because she wields inexorable justice for all. That includes ourselves.

  • http://www.patheos.com/ Star Foster

    I think Nemesis is difficult to embrace, because she wields inexorable justice for all. That includes ourselves.

  • http://twitter.com/glendanowakowsk Glenda Nowakowski

    Yet having the ways in which we are unjust brought to light is part of the price we must pay if we want to have any hope of eventually living in a just world.

  • glendanowakowsk

    Yet having the ways in which we are unjust brought to light is part of the price we must pay if we want to have any hope of eventually living in a just world.

  • The Norse Alchemist

    I think you’ve hit the nail on the head, without realizing it. This was a senseless act of violence. Yet the reason it occurred is, to me, because we lack acts of “senseful” violence. Our pagan ancestors lived in a violent world because the world itself is violent, but they found honorable ways to channel that violence and make it useful for society. Today, in this far too Christianized West, we have been shaped by the view that violence is evil and that our modern world protects us from violence, when most people can tell you, it doesn’t.

    Now, am I saying that if society was more violent it would be better? That is up for a larger debate, but in turning away from violence we have forced it out of the honorable real, leaving those who turn to it unable to act with much honor. In addition, we have in many ways forced those who feel they have no voice to act with dishonor. If we lived in a time and place where this young man whose motives are unknown (to me at least) could have honorably challenged the Congresswoman to something like a Holmgang or Duel of Honor, it is possible she would still be in her present state or worse, but I think we could have prevented the needless deaths of those innocents that died this day.

    In many ways, our leaders are too far away from us, given much power and elected by the majority of voters, and often neglect the will of those whom they represent, but hold different views. Violence may not have been the best answer to this problem, but since many people feel that violence is the only answer left within their grasp after every means deemed acceptable by society has been tried and found useless, I would rather see a way that such violence be guided and made honorable again, rather than see the loss of needless life like we have.

    These are my humble thoughts.

    The Norse Alchemist

  • The Norse Alchemist

    I think you’ve hit the nail on the head, without realizing it. This was a senseless act of violence. Yet the reason it occurred is, to me, because we lack acts of “senseful” violence. Our pagan ancestors lived in a violent world because the world itself is violent, but they found honorable ways to channel that violence and make it useful for society. Today, in this far too Christianized West, we have been shaped by the view that violence is evil and that our modern world protects us from violence, when most people can tell you, it doesn’t.

    Now, am I saying that if society was more violent it would be better? That is up for a larger debate, but in turning away from violence we have forced it out of the honorable real, leaving those who turn to it unable to act with much honor. In addition, we have in many ways forced those who feel they have no voice to act with dishonor. If we lived in a time and place where this young man whose motives are unknown (to me at least) could have honorably challenged the Congresswoman to something like a Holmgang or Duel of Honor, it is possible she would still be in her present state or worse, but I think we could have prevented the needless deaths of those innocents that died this day.

    In many ways, our leaders are too far away from us, given much power and elected by the majority of voters, and often neglect the will of those whom they represent, but hold different views. Violence may not have been the best answer to this problem, but since many people feel that violence is the only answer left within their grasp after every means deemed acceptable by society has been tried and found useless, I would rather see a way that such violence be guided and made honorable again, rather than see the loss of needless life like we have.

    These are my humble thoughts.

    The Norse Alchemist

  • Ananta Androscoggin

    Those who hold to the purest ideology of the far right in this country have no honor left to them. Honor is irreconcilable to the aims of these traitors to our species.

    • The Norse Alchemist

      And I suppose you would hold that those with the purest ideology of the far left are the most honorable and righteous of all?

      • Ananta Androscoggin

        Hardly.

        And if Faux Noise Corruptthenation is truly “fair and balanced,” then obviously Joe Stalin was the greatest Republican politician who ever lived.

  • Ananta Androscoggin

    Those who hold to the purest ideology of the far right in this country have no honor left to them. Honor is irreconcilable to the aims of these traitors to our species.

    • The Norse Alchemist

      And I suppose you would hold that those with the purest ideology of the far left are the most honorable and righteous of all?

      • Ananta Androscoggin

        Hardly.

        And if Faux Noise Corruptthenation is truly “fair and balanced,” then obviously Joe Stalin was the greatest Republican politician who ever lived.

  • Lizziestroebel

    Hierdie ouens besef nie dat hier meer bevoor-oordeeld-geid en haat is as wat ek ooit in SANC beleef het nie

  • Lizziestroebel

    Hierdie ouens besef nie dat hier meer bevoor-oordeeld-geid en haat is as wat ek ooit in SANC beleef het nie

  • Nadia

    Came across this while looking up pagan violence. and have to just mention that Brutus is remembered primarily because of his boasting far from keeping quiet he declared the ides a holiday and minted coins with a dagger and the ides ( one was just soldvat auction in london for a lot of money.) I was hoping to find  that pagans were less violent than christians but i guess not.

     

    • http://www.patheos.com Star Foster

      We haven’t started any crusades to wipe out another religion. You were looking up Pagan violence, and you found censure of a violent act. I’m not certain what your problem is here.

      • http://www.facebook.com/dashifen David Dashifen Kees

        Off topic:  I admire that you stopped by an 11 month old post to respond to a comment.  Well done :)

        • http://www.patheos.com Star Foster

          I do what i can. Like Magenta, I see all…. lol

      • Nadia

        no i don’t have a problem , i just wanted to find proof for my arguement that pagans of which i would be if i were something with a tag and i came across this thread using the ides of march aas an example of emrassed violence which it wasn’t an wan’tto corect it. sorry for mis understanding .

        • http://www.patheos.com Star Foster

          I’m sorry, this is so garbled I can’t read it. Can you try again?

          • Nadia

            Hi again .Sorry for the appalling grammar  I was just commenting on the fact that I was looking up Pagan violence in an effort to win an argument , something to support the fact that Pagan’s were less or at worse no-more violent than the organised religions that followed and the example I came across was flawed and went against my argument not saying I am right or wrong just looking .

            Love Nadia     

          • Nadia

            Hi again .Sorry for the appalling grammar  I was just commenting on the fact that I was looking up Pagan violence in an effort to win an argument , something to support the fact that Pagan’s were less or at worse no-more violent than the organised religions that followed and the example I came across was flawed and went against my argument not saying I am right or wrong just looking .

            Love Nadia     

        • Nadia

          sorry am working will write later. xx

  • Nadia

    Came across this while looking up pagan violence. and have to just mention that Brutus is remembered primarily because of his boasting far from keeping quiet he declared the ides a holiday and minted coins with a dagger and the ides ( one was just soldvat auction in london for a lot of money.) I was hoping to find  that pagans were less violent than christians but i guess not.

     

    • http://www.patheos.com/ Star Foster

      We haven’t started any crusades to wipe out another religion. You were looking up Pagan violence, and you found censure of a violent act. I’m not certain what your problem is here.

      • fffh_moderator

        Off topic:  I admire that you stopped by an 11 month old post to respond to a comment.  Well done :)

        • http://www.patheos.com/ Star Foster

          I do what i can. Like Magenta, I see all…. lol

      • Nadia

        no i don’t have a problem , i just wanted to find proof for my arguement that pagans of which i would be if i were something with a tag and i came across this thread using the ides of march aas an example of emrassed violence which it wasn’t an wan’tto corect it. sorry for mis understanding .

        • http://www.patheos.com/ Star Foster

          I’m sorry, this is so garbled I can’t read it. Can you try again?

          • Nadia

            Hi again .Sorry for the appalling grammar  I was just commenting on the fact that I was looking up Pagan violence in an effort to win an argument , something to support the fact that Pagan’s were less or at worse no-more violent than the organised religions that followed and the example I came across was flawed and went against my argument not saying I am right or wrong just looking .

            Love Nadia     

        • Nadia

          sorry am working will write later. xx

  • http://www.facebook.com/dashifen David Dashifen Kees

    Well played.

    EDIT: reply button fail.

  • fffh_moderator

    Well played.

    EDIT: reply button fail.


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