BOOM! and a familiar pattern emerges in our collective community; months ago in a piece titled “Confronting The New Right” Rhyd Wildermuth warned of the creeping influence of Fascism in Polytheist communities. Of course he was attacked, demonized, and painted as a Pariah in many polytheist circles. Frankly he did a great Job.
It is an unfortunate reality that those confronting injustice in our communities are subject to the ridicule by those seeking to lay the cornerstones of theological groups. Time and again in our broader society we have seen this pattern.
We know that figures like Martin Luther King Jr. were metaphorically crucified by the establishment for daring to upset the apple cart. Years later, his strength of character is celebrated by the very establishment that sought to discredit him.
New ideas and challenges to authority have always gotten this response. It is almost as if the pattern of confrontation with radical truth inevitably leads to massive demonization, a period of silence and then gradual acceptance of the inherent truth. Unfortunately, it is the truth teller who is sacrificed at the alter of progress.
As another example of this process, consider the Occupy movement, demonized by the public as violent and extremist, their principles were loudly proclaimed by the recent campaign of the Senator from Vermont. What is radical becomes common belief with time; the Pariahs’ are vindicated.
Within our own Pagan communities this same dynamic has a long and disturbing history. When this writer confronted racism within the Covenant of the Goddess, a couple of years ago, the attacks were vicious, a new organizational Pariah was crowned. Less than a year later the organization elected its first Person of Color as its national leader. The organization was forever changed for the better. Progress is painful, yet it is the Pariah’s that lead our community to growth, insight and a broader sense of social justice in our theological maturity.
Of course, this process will continue, those attempting to lay cornerstones of infrastructure will resist because they don’t understand that the establishment of institutions inevitably leads to a creeping ethic of institutional self interest taking precedence over individual needs for ethical engagement in the world.
My heroes are the Pariah’s of our community. When they dare to state that the ‘Emperor has no clothes’ they do so at great personal risk, yet they place fairness, compassion and justice above their own reputations. Of the many brave people who fit into this category I most admire:
These are my fellow Pariah’s who have also experienced having their words twisted, their actions questioned and reputations attacked. Yet, at the end of the day, their positions reflect truths that the community has had to grapple with. Just as we are witnessing the truth of the warning from Rhyd manifested, we can look back and realize the contributions of his fellow Pariah’s to our community and our nation at large.
Collectively, maybe we can attempt to manifest a community that is able to reflect on why radical ideas and thoughts trigger resistance and demagoguery. It is time for our community to put a capital P on the word Pariah. With a historical eye, we can see that these so maligned members of our community are often those whose service so enriches our community.
As to our most recent experience of the Pariah being vindicated, it is clearly time that we abandon the idea of the Pagan umbrella; to often it gives care, comfort and platform to individuals who are toxic to our community. Lets tear asunder the Pagan umbrella and recognize that Paganism needs re-wilding; we belong in the glorious rain, soaked in multiple manifestations of divine inspiration, not cowering from the elements, embracing people of toxic influence to gain shelter.
Those who confront Fascism, Transphobia, and Racism are branded Pariahs. They also deserve to embrace the title as a badge of honor; they are truly our most insightful and compassionate servants.
A Pagan Pariah