I rarely write about politics or social issues on Raise the Horns. For the most part this is a Pagan blog about Pagan things, and that’s what I try to focus on here. In my personal life I’m very active when it comes to social issues and and political ones, but if I can’t work the words “Pagan” or “Witch” into an article here I usually abstain from writing it. In addition there are literally thousands of other blogs and websites out there that deal with the things I’m not writing about, and to be honest, they are often simply going to be better than anything I can come up with. Sometimes though an issue becomes such a part of the public sphere that it reverberates through my Pagan practice, that’s where I find myself today.
As a Pagan I believe that everything in this universe is connected in some way. There are threads between the gods, the cosmos, the Earth, and us; but it’s even more than that. Just as we are connected to the gods and the Earth we are all connected to nature and each other. It’s easy to feel a connection to your neighbor, or someone who simply believes the same way you do, but our connections are deeper than that. Sure, we all mostly keep to ourselves and our communities, but that doesn’t change the inter-connectedness we all share.
The English poet John Donne once wrote: “No man is an island, entire of itself. Every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main . . . . Any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind.” Since first being introduced to those words back in high school I have lived with them daily. “No man is an island, Any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind.” It can be hard to apply those words to everyone, but I feel as if they certainly apply to most people. Donne’s words resonate so strongly with me because they speak to that interconnectedness that I think is a part of my spirituality. When a large part of society ignores the threads that tie us all together they are mocking my faith, and they are mocking Donne’s faith (he was a cleric in the Church of England), and they are mocking my gods who have built threads between us all.
I’m sure you’ve seen the hashtag #BlackLivesMatter on the news and in social media, but it’s more than just a meme or throw away quote, it’s a reality. I live in a country where millions of people and our criminal justice system believe that the lives of African-American males don’t matter. Black men are often treated like islands with no respect for the threads that connect them to this world and everyone and everything in it. When someone’s life is taken prematurely without reason or justification we are all diminished in some way. Black Lives Matter because no man is an island and any man’s death diminishes me because I am involved in mankind.
No man is an island,
Entire of itself,
Every man is a piece of the continent,
A part of the main.
If a clod be washed away by the sea,
Europe is the less.
As well as if a promontory were.
As well as if a manor of thy friend’s
Or of thine own were:
Any man’s death diminishes me,
Because I am involved in mankind,
And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls;
It tolls for thee.