One of the more interesting, and frustrating, things I see online is how people react to another person’s choices, especially when those choices seem to be directly opposite their own. Not just in the Pagan, Polytheist and related communities – but in a million different communities.
Homeschooling perhaps provides the easiest example that I can quickly give of what I mean (but don’t worry, this is a Pagan post). I homeschool, and occasionally I wax lyrical about how awesome homeschooling is. Sometimes I may even mention that one of the many reasons I homeschool is because I don’t like the public school system all that much. Many homeschoolers do this. And many people who send their kids to public (or even private) school seem to take such comments as a direct attack on their parenting choices and abilities.
They seem to think that because we think homeschooling is better (for us) then we must also think every parent who doesn’t homeschool is a bad, lazy, worthless, parent. To the point where we even apparently insinuate that non-homeschoolers don’t love their kids. But this is all far from the truth.
The same sort of thing happens in Paganism and the related communities – online for the most part, but offline too. Someone will talk about how they do ritual, or how the rules of their tradition state you can’t do this thing here, or must do this thing there, and suddenly the world explodes. Don’t tell me what to do! You’re not better than me! How dare you think you know everything!?!
Blah. Blah. Blah.
I love to read other Pagan and related blogs. One of the things that I enjoy most is coming across posts that make me say to myself, “Ha! No way am I ever doing that!”
Reading that, you may think I am laughing at the person who wrote the post I am reading, but I am not. I am actually laughing at the idea of me doing those things. I imagine myself doing things as they do, just for a brief moment I imagine it, and the image is ludicrous.
But just because the image of me doing it is laughable and ludicrous, doesn’t mean the image of someone else doing it is the same. Indeed, for the most part, the descriptions people share of their practices conjure up images that I find somewhat awe inspiring. Why else would I spend even a second imagining myself doing what they do, if I didn’t find it worthy of doing?
An example. I was reading a post by Galina Krasskova the other day, she was speaking of how she wants to get to a place in her practice that might include praying or doing rituals to the Gods for several hours each day. I read that and imagined myself doing that and… immediately felt exhausted. I couldn’t do it. Not that, no way. It’s too much.For me. Because I know myself. I am able to recognise, usually, what my limits are – my strengths and weaknesses. I can imagine myself doing what Galina wants to do, I can imagine how amazing her goal is and I can recognise that if I were to try it – it wouldn’t be so amazing, because I would be doing it. It would not be amazing because I know, at some point, I would feel more obligated and less awed by it. It would begin to feel like a chore, that I might come to hate. For me, that level of devotion would be bad. I could wish otherwise – but I know the truth of myself.
But none of those thoughts and realisations had anything to do with Galina or my opinion of her or her practice. Because actually, I also thought, at the same time, how full on is that? The level of devotion and discipline that would require. It’s really quite amazing to imagine. Something to admire in my opinion. And if I were capable of doing that, I would certainly aspire to it.
One of my favourite little sayings in Paganism and in homeschooling is the simple, “What is good for one person is not necessarily good for another. And vice versa, what is bad for one person is not always bad for someone else.”
It’s a simple one, you have probably read it many times by Pagans and by others as well. But I wonder how many stop to really think about these words and recognise the truth in them. Not as many as could, that’s for sure. But hopefully more than my cynicism lets me believe.
If you haven’t thought about it, I hope you do now. Because it is truth at its most simple and plain. It’s good for me, doesn’t mean I am saying it must be good for you. It’s bad for me, doesn’t mean I am saying it must be bad for you.
Opposite doesn’t always equal in opposition.
Remember that, and it will make things a lot easier when listening to or reading the opinions of others.